An interesting article over at news.com.com about a Brasilian Microsoft MSN website showing several error messages. Normally this news item would put you straight to sleep as errors are all too common for Microsoft products. This one is different. See, the errors happen the be generated by PHP and MySQL. Yes, now would be a good time to pick up those false teeth you just dropped. Luckily Someone was smart enough to make a nice screenshot which is available here.
The question is off course if this screenshot is fake or real. Frankly I have a hard time believing that this screenshot is real. But if it is, there is a very nice parallel with the iPod usage at Microsoft. I quote from the entertaining Wired article:
"About 80 percent of Microsoft employees who have a portable music player have an iPod," said one source, a high-level manager who asked to remain anonymous. "It's pretty staggering."
This is already funny by itself and it became even more entertaining when even Bill Gates was asked in an interview about the iPod usage by his employees. Off course Gates denied such a blasphemous idea and responded that he did not use an iPod. He said he uses a Zen MP3 player which off course uses software from Microsoft.
Back to the screenshot and Microsoft’s seemingly usage of Open Source software for MSN which is a key company initiative. Brasil has strong roots in the Open Source community. Connectiva, which was recently bought by Mandrake, is based in Brasil and there is a very strong uptake of Linux and Open Source software by Brasilian consumers as well as Brasilian businesses and their government. Perhaps Microsoft hired a company to implement and host the MSN Brasil website without knowing that they would silently create the site with Linux, Apache, PHP and MySQL (also known as LAMP). Now there is a good joke.
Farfetched? Definitely. But speculation is half the fun even if the screenshot is a fake. But what if it is not a fake… Earlier today Microsoft Watch reported here that Marc Lucovsky, Microsoft’s Chief .Net Architect and Distinguished Engineer, has bailed Microsoft and joined Google. His reasons are unkown except for this gem in his blog. Looks to me like he has lost his faith in Microsoft to deliver the innovation required to keep it ahead of the pack.
Now add all these little things up and then look at the cracks that are starting to show in Microsoft’s foundation: their employees secretly revolting by using iPods and something else than IE, a MSN website built with competing products and a Chief .Net Architect that has lost faith and leaves the company.
Food for thought because whatever happens, Microsoft seems to be at the wrong end of the stick. When you are at the top the only way is down.