UPDATED: 29 Jan, 2008
Woo Hoo! Microsoft has begun to produce some compelling material and media designed to educate business owners about the risks inherent to the use of illegal software. They have produced from very slick and informative animations designed to present different scenarios that regretfully, some businesses may find all too familiar.
My favorite so far is called: "Genuine Fact Files: Questionable Consultation"
Quoted from the "Know The Facts" site is a descripton for the animation alerting businesses about deals that are "too good to be true..." I found it especially relevant to many situations we have to compete against. I am really glad to see this kind of marterial out there - it is tough enough competing and impossible to compete with thieves where so many decisions are based upon price.
"Questionable Consultation illustrates the importance of understanding how your business can be adversely impacted by the questionable practices of outside consultants acting on your behalf. If a consultant’s solution sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be duped by bad advice – be sure you understand the appropriate software and licensing solutions for your business."
It's about time Microsoft did this and helped all of us explain why it is not only right and proper to "keep it legal" but how much more value businesses realize as a result of simply doing the right thing.
I know from my own experience that business owners are more than happy to work with legit service providers selling Genuine and properly licensed software. Not one of them that I have encountered was aware of what was going on and they should - it is their responsibility to know and the time for excuses is at an end.
Balance is about to be restored to the force...
For over a year now, our industry press and bloggers have been trashing Windows Vista. Some have admitted being paid well to do so, and others have alluded to the reality that they have been offered a lot of money to disparage the new operating system.
That isn't the worst of it. Microsoft Partners, mostly smaller ones - that owe their businesses and livelihoods to Microsoft and the ecosystem that it built around its operating systems and servers, have been far worse. They have been busy trashing Vista, too and some have taken the lowest of low roads and stolen from Microsoft. Some have stolen the truth as well as property. Some have been hood-winking their customers and buying cheap PC's loaded with Windows Vista Basic, or Home Premium and ripping it off and installing less than legal copies of Windows XP Professional. These same partners have then charged the customer for the work - all the while declaring that they are "XP Only" shops, because Vista is "bad."
I've seen it with my own sad, tired eyes. I've heard it with my own ears and it makes me sick. Stealing is wrong, illegal and just as bad as lying - both are acts of thievery - one steals property and the other steals the truth.
Let me say this: "where I see it - the theft - I will act according to the rule of law." So fellow partners, where I move into markets and I can prove what I have written above, count on being called on it - count in being held to account. As necessary and with my own money, I will make our new customers legal and you can bet I will show them how to make Vista and Office 2007 a perfect part of their lives and businesses.
There is change coming and it is coming from business owners and regular people
We have a wide base of professional business users and in each of them we have been deploying Windows Vista Business and Ultimate since its business and general public launch. Windows Vista has been the most reliable and enjoyable operating system we have ever used and our customers have taken delight in using it - so much so, that they, just as we do, miss Vista each time we encounter XP, or any other OS.
Recently, we have moved into new markets - physically. In these new markets we found a mess. People, businesses and systems so under-served and so badly configured and maintained that people had lost faith in computers and digital communications entirely. We found a block of users unwilling to consider what technology can do for them and it took weeks of hard work to get them to even consider the possible benefits of modern, well maintained and integrated systems and software.
We started slowly. We followed through and followed up and in a short while began the slow, methodical march toward real productivity, security and promise - the promise that all things digital can and will deliver to businesses and people.
We built on our base of understanding - the understanding that comes from years of work and participation in the BETA and testing phases attending any new technology and the all too familiar work we invested in the years leading up to the launch of Windows Vista. For us, there were few surprises and for our customers, new and old, there were none. We made everything work.
Making everything work is the key and what a "partner" is supposed to do
Yes, of course there were and are challenges. Users need to be trained. Users need to understand how things work. That is no problem, but a huge opportunity - for the partner in us to earn our pay and earn the trust and respect of the new users we are serving. We do that. We follow up - we persist - we remain available and we train, teach, coach and encourage users to explore all the new operating system can do.
Users are the drivers
Success in this business is not just about decision makers and influence-rs. Success in IT/MIS services is about helping each user - regardless of the tasks at hand. When partners work hard to support every user in a business, they earn the trust and confidence of the user base.
New users of Windows Vista are delighted. When a partner, builder and integrator works alongside the users and delivers a finished product, Vista is allowed to shine and really demonstrate how much better it is. Our users, established and new, have each responded with delight at the new features, performance and capabilities available in the new OS. While they don't see it, I am sure they are happy with the increased security - and great security is transparent in exactly that way. Well prepared and deployed Vista systems do not present User Account Control [UAC] events to users - the systems are already fully configured.
Existing users of XP have had seven years to learn the ropes - are we at all surprised that alone, and on their own, Windows Vista would be a challenge to become as familiar to them? On one's own, of course any such change would be hard. However, with a well prepared partner at the side of the user and small business, Vista and the new Office 2007 suite can quickly emerge as being the truly better versions that they are. Windows Vista in particular, has so much power and baked in features that good partners are more important than ever.
When working with new customers that have never been fully supported, I have seen how disappointed they are that the truth and real benefits of using the new Windows have been concealed from them. Some are quite angry and want to know why the new operating system has been described as it has. I work to steer away from such things, and get the users back onto more positive tracks and get into what they can now do.
Vista changes people. It changes how they think about a PC. When properly configured and supported, Vista and its users are free of a lot of the worry and concerns they once had. They stop worrying about mal-ware. They understand that "Protected Mode" in Internet Explorer and UAC will at least alert them to dangers they may encounter while working in the cloud.
A lot of partners are hit and run experts, it seems. They sell and leave. Partners need to learn how to sell and stay - how to commit to the user and how to grow with them. Microsoft Partners have to learn that their users matter more than profits and that business success is a natural by-product generated by simply delivering great services and products.
Partners needed to have done all the hard work necessary to deliver the full advantage present in Windows Vista. Many didn't. Many did what was easy. Some did and do what is unthinkable - they stole. They stole the truth - from users and themselves.
The Revenge of Vista
Make no mistake about it. Great partners - big and small, are delivering great services and products based upon the new Windows and Office. The truth and reality is spreading and fast and people and businesses are ready for change - they are ready for what is next. Vista is next and those partners that have worked hard, told the truth and played by the rules are going to be the winners - right along with the users they support.
Vista isn't just good. Vista is great. It's fast, reliable and easy to use. Vista is sharp - it is so much sharper in appearance than other versions of Windows and OS X that the differences are striking. Sit an OS X user down - sit them down side by side with Vista on one had and OS X on the other - and do a few comparisons. They and you will see how cloudy and fuzzy OS X is and how crisp and sharp Windows Vista is. Show them how much clearer and better defined Vista's fonts are and how much brighter and faster Vista screens are. You and they will be surprised. Show them how much more sense the Windows Vista Explorer is as compared to OS X's "Finder" - do the same opposite XP and you'll quickly see why Vista is so much better.
When one does these few things, and takes the time to show what Vista is all about, it takes only a few minutes and the new Vista user turns on and begins to explore the new Windows. That's all it takes - just a few moments.
So get ready. Vista users are coming and in the hundreds of millions and they are going to have some tough questions for partners and our press. They are going to ask pointed questions about why it has taken so long for partners and the press to tell the truth - they are going to ask why people lied to them.
If you are a partner, be a good one. If you are a user, finding a good partner is easy - ask them what they run - if they are running Windows Vista Ultimate on a PC they built with their own hands, then that is the partner you want to work with. If they start to trash Vista and they don't know why it is better, or recommended, then move on - find a partner with a few cuts on his fingers - they'll be there because his hands will have been in a computer, or server case in the recent past and he'll keep a few nicks on his fingers as a result.