SocialText’s founder, Ross Mayfield, nails why a bunch of my friends don’t trust Microsoft and are finding what Microsoft’s Web offerings quite boring (or, even worse, worthy of derision).
As I’ve been going around the world I’ve been meeting with many people who’ve built their companies on non-Microsoft stuff. Some of whom have companies worth billions of dollars now. Some of whom you’ve never heard about unless you read TechCrunch. Here’s 12 reasons Web 2.0 entrepreneurs like Ross tell me that they aren’t using Microsoft’s stuff:
1) Startup costs. Linux is free. Ruby on Rails is free. MySQL is free.
2) Performance per dollar. They perceive that a Linux server running Apache has more performance than IIS running .NET.
3) Finding tech staff is easier. There are a whole new raft of young, highly skilled people willing to work long hours at startups who can build sites using Ruby on Rails.
4) Perception of scalability. The geeks who run these new businesses perceive that they can scale up their data centers with Linux and not with Windows (the old “Google runs on Linux” argument).
5) That Microsoft doesn’t care about small businesses. After all, Microsoft is an evil borg, but Ruby on Rails comes from a single guy: David Heinemeier Hansson. He has a blog and answers questions fast.
6) That open source makes it easier to fix problems and/or build custom solutions. A variant of the old “Google or Amazon couldn’t be built on Windows” argument.
7) On clients, they want to choose the highest-reach platforms. That doesn’t mean a Windows app. Or even an app that runs only in IE. It must run on every variant of Linux and Macintosh too.
8) They don’t want to take shit from their friends (or, even, their Venture Capitalist). Most of this is just pure cost-control. I can hear the conversation now: “OK, you wanna go with Windows as your platform, but is the extra feature worth the licensing fees for Windows?”
9) No lockin. These new businesses don’t want to be locked into a specific vendor’s problems, er products. Why? Because that way they can’t shop for the best price among tools (or move to something else if the architecture changes).
10) More security. The new businesses perceive Linux, Apache, Firefox, and other open source stuff to have higher security than stuff built on Windows.
11) More agility. I’ve had entrepreneurs tell me they need to be able to buy a server and have it totally up and running in less than 30 minutes and that they say that Linux is better at that.
12) The working set is smaller. Because Linux can be stripped down, the entrepreneurs are telling me that they can make their server-side stuff run faster and with less memory usage.
Now, why am I telling you this stuff? After all, I’ve just given you a list of perceived competitive advantages for Linux, Ruby on Rails, MySQL, and others. Isn’t this yet another example of why Scoble should be fired for being negative on his own company?
See, I don’t want uninformed customers. That doesn’t help me. It doesn’t help Microsoft. It doesn’t help the customers. I want you to ask your Microsoft salesperson the tough questions before you buy into any of our new Web stuff. And, I start with the presumption my readers are smart enough to use Google or MSN or Yahoo to find out this information anyway. If you don’t get the right answers from Microsoft when it comes time to consider new Web technologies/methodologies/tools, er, if we don’t answer these points above, then I want you to run to the competition (and I’ll help you go there, just like I did when I helped run a camera store in the 1980s). And, when we bring services out, or bring new Web strategies out, I want you to trust us because we treated you right and gave you all the information.
Thanks Ross, though, for bringing your distrust out into the open. That’s helpful cause at least we can work on it now. And deal with it openly, without FUD, is what we’re going to do. Or, we’re going to be fired. That’s my cautionary tale to everyone inside Microsoft. Pay attention to this stuff or you’ll find yourself working somewhere else cause the customers went somewhere else.
What do you think? Did I miss anything in my list of 12?