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Microsoft's Ethical Guidelines 271

Posted by kdawson
from the oxy-meet-moron dept.
hankwang writes "Did you know that Microsoft has ethical guidelines? It's good to know that 'Microsoft did not make any payments to foreign government officials' while lobbying for OOXML, and that 'Microsoft conducts its business in compliance with laws designed to promote fair competition' every time they suppressed competitors. In their Corporate Citizenship section, they discuss how the customer-focused approach creates products that work well with those of competitors and open-source solutions. So all the reverse-engineering by Samba and OpenOffice.org developers wasn't really necessary."
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Microsoft's Ethical Guidelines

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  • by Muckluck (759718) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @05:33AM (#25366369)
    Ethics? Make your time...
  • by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@@@davidgerard...co...uk> on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @05:44AM (#25366423) Homepage

    Microsoft has really lost it when it comes to evil these days. Apple's evil is just ridiculously better [today.com]. Microsoft's evil was damn fine in the 1990s, but these days it's just ... sorta lame. I mean, Vista - what dismally poorly executed evil! And the Zune, oh dear.

    So trying to be good is all that's left to them. Can they go straight? Or will it be straight back to crime?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No kidding, since they probable followed the two they're getting called out on.

      "Microsoft did not make any payments to foreign government officials"

      Well, they were probably foreign business men, now weren't they.

      "Microsoft conducts its business in compliance with laws designed to promote fair competition"

      Of course they do. If they don't they get slapped with huge fines.

      Also: "the customer-focused approach creates products that work well with those of competitors and open-source solutions"

      Well
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @07:56AM (#25366979)
        All true, but somewhat beside the point.

        Microsoft is just misunderstood. People think that Microsoft is a software company, but it isn't. Microsoft is an abuse company that sells software as a way of delivering abuse. Microsoft's evil is not a side-effect of their management philosophy, Microsoft's evil is their business model.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mysidia (191772)

          Sounds about right.

          I heard that the next major version of windows will have a SQL-based file system.

          And General Protection Fault / Illegal operation has occured is being enhanced.

          Not only will windows now kill applications at random, but will corrupt files you were working on at random.

          And the newest enhancement is corrupting files you weren't working on at random.

          Because the documents you weren't working on will be stored on disk within the same binary blob.

          Windows explorer will transparently

        • by BCW2 (168187)
          Can we get this one carved in stone?

          Possibly the most accurate and funny comment about M$ ever made!
    • by weber (36246) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @07:27AM (#25366819)

      "You're not quite evil enough. You're semi-evil. You're quasi-evil. You're the margarine of evil. You're the Diet Coke of evil, just one calorie, not evil enough."
          -- Dr. Evil

  • by jkrise (535370) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @05:44AM (#25366425) Journal

    "....Microsoft provides a broad range of policies, programs, and products that are focused on our commitment to responsible and ethical business practices that promote user choice, industry opportunity, interoperability, and transparency....."

    Last I checked Microsoft's Exchange Server works well only with IE. Unlike Gmail or Yahoo mail. Exchange is lousy with Firefox, Opera or Safari. Where is the choice?

    And Exchange Server 2008 I belive even screws up the IMAP support, so Thunderbird users get the bird as well... So much for interoperability and transparency.

    • by dvice_null (981029) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @05:55AM (#25366463)

      > Where is the choice?

      You can pick any browser you want from these alternatives: IE6, IE7, IE8

      • by jkrise (535370) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @06:08AM (#25366515) Journal

        You can pick any browser you want from these alternatives: IE6, IE7, IE8

        Not always. You can't pick IE6 AND Vista. Many sites work well only with IE6.

        Recent versions of Exchange Server work well only with IE7 or later. So in a Corporate setting with Win2K systems running IE6 for the Corporate Intranet, things get very clunky and unmanagable. Add multiple versions of SharePoint, Office, Active Directory... and pretty soon, you realise even Microsoft's products do not work well between and amnongst themselves. Unless you upgrade all of them, all at once. Which is pretty much impractical and terribly expensive.

        • Actually I've tried firefox just yesterday on my exchange webmail account. It certainly works.

          Of course my company probably hasn't got the newest version of exchange webmail (? what's it called ?), but it works.

          The VPN is the problem, really.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by somersault (912633)

            It works, but if you tried it on IE you'd notice that you get nicer stuff like fancy context sensitive right click menus.

            It was the same with hotmail for a while. They've sorted the right click menus in Firefox now, but you still can't change the ratio of inbox to reading pane.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nmg196 (184961)

          > Many sites work well only with IE6.

          Yes, but you shouldn't use those sites as it means they're totally obsolete and haven't been updated in the last two years since IE7 was released.

        • Many sites work well only with IE6

          Not Slashdot. Not any more.

        • by omeomi (675045) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @07:28AM (#25366827) Homepage
          Not always. You can't pick IE6 AND Vista.

          Thank God.
        • by Yvanhoe (564877)
          The advice I got from someone working at MS :
          Win2K ? But we're in 2008! Your scenario is not credible. It is not healthy to stay with outdated systems!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hey! (33014)

          Ummm. To promote user choice within Microsoft's product line of course.

          Take standards. You participate in standards in order to increase the size of the market for your goods. Then you try to capture as much as that market as possible buy creating a "superior" implementation of that standard. The fact that this locks in the customer doesn't mean the customer didn't have a choice. Anybody who has thought about vendor lock in realizes that the element of buyer choice is critical in making it possible.

      • by Toreo asesino (951231) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @06:12AM (#25366523) Journal

        Actually, Exchange works just fine on any browser you want. Some features aren't supported (like sending rich-text emails), but 95% is.

        But then, there's still a bunch of stuff you can't do on web-access for any browser, so this is hardly a show-stopper. Exchange was never meant to be just a web-mail server believe it or not.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Uhm, Exchange 2003 at least certainly works with FireFox - I use it daily. It may not be as rich as the environment you get with IE, but it certainly is perfectly usable.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Uhm, Exchange 2003 at least certainly works with FireFox - I use it daily. It may not be as rich as the environment you get with IE, but it certainly is perfectly usable.

        But why? It looks like it's been specifically engineered that way, not anything technologically lacking in Firefox or Opera. Try replying to a neat HTML email in Firefox and it reverts to basic text, and looks terribly ugly. Also a simple plain vanilla email from Firefox is rendered in a miniscule size font when read with IE.

        Mere meaningl

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @06:45AM (#25366643)

          Why? How about because Firefox wasn't there when Exchange 2003 was released? Because Netscape didn't have an XMLHTTP facility; Ajax came from IE and Outlook Web access.

          But no, really it's a conspiracy that MS didn't have a soothsayer on the Exchange team so they could plan from a browser that wouldn't be created for another year, and when there wasn't a standard way of accessing what was, at the time, an IE only extension. Damn them. DAMN THEM TO HELL.

          • by somersault (912633) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @07:54AM (#25366961) Homepage Journal

            From http://msexchangeteam.com/archive/2006/09/13/428901.aspx [msexchangeteam.com]

            Why doesn't Premium work on Firefox?

            Before I wrap up, I'd like to address the question we often receive about why OWA Premium doesn't work in non IE browsers. The following is heavily plagiarized from others who have answered this question as well (thanks Kristian!), and if after reading this you are still unclear as to why Premium doesn't work on Firefox, please feel free to post your questions here and I'll do my best to answer them.

            Shockingly, the decision to make OWA Premium only work on IE6+ has nothing to do with forcing people to use other Microsoft products (sorry to have to dispel the conspiracy, and just when Oliver Stone and Kevin Costner were starting pre-production on "OWA: The Movie "). The decision was made, simply enough, due to costs, time, and customer need.

            The browser support we have for OWA Premium and OWA Light is due to usage share among our customers, and the development and test investment it takes to support additional browsers/versions. This doesn't mean the browser statistics for "browsers hitting OWA", which would be skewed based on our previous browser support. We look at the browser statistics for "browsers used on the Internet" and "browsers used within our customer organizations", as well as listening to what customers are asking for, since statistics, surveys, site logs, and research firms never tell the full story. The browser matrix of OWA is about where we allocate our investments, and the need of additional browser support as compared to the need for all the other OWA features our customers want. We have limited resources, limited time, and a very large set of potential features.

            I understand it would be a PITA for them to add in support for 'premium' features in every browser, but FireFox has shown to be pretty popular in general. It's kind of a self fulfilling prophecy to say "we don't add in these features for other browsers because nobody is using those browsers for OWA". If they added in support for those features in firefox they'd probably find the percentage of users using firefox for OWA increases a lot. I know I used to fire up IE just to use OWA.

            • by MightyYar (622222)

              All you really need for explanation is that it uses ActiveX. They'd have to do a total rewrite in order to support other browsers.

              • Well, OWA for Exchange 2003 doesn't ask to install any ActiveX components so I'm not so sure. Perhaps 2007 does use ActiveX. From later on in the same page the guy continued his excuses by talking about having lots of premium features that would need tweaked for them to work in other browsers, so I had thought it was more of a DOM issue.

    • Last I checked Microsoft's Exchange Server works well only with IE. Unlike Gmail or Yahoo mail. Exchange is lousy with Firefox, Opera or Safari. Where is the choice?

      Well that's easy, you get to choose whether or not you want it to work correctly!

      I hope that clears things up and you can see how committed Microsoft truly is!

    • by Hognoxious (631665) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @08:38AM (#25367249) Homepage Journal

      It looks like you're trying to write some ethical conduct guidelines.

      Would you prefer:

      * Vague platitudes and general statements of the obvious
      * Poetic idealism interspersed with wishful thinking
      * A statement that boils down to "We do what we can get away with, no more no less. If it was wrong it would be illegal, wouldn't it?"

    • Considering I use my work's exchange mail exclusively with FF I would say the user experience is on par with gmail. I can search, sorta, send, etc.

      The IE experience is enchanced due to active X, which I don't care for. The FF experience itself is fine though.
  • Ethics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by symes (835608) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @05:44AM (#25366427) Journal
    You know, sometimes you'll find organisations with the most detailed and extensive ethical guidelines imaginable. And in the same cupboard you'll find several inches of dust. "A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do, Nothing else" (Gandhi, M).
    • Re:Ethics (Score:5, Informative)

      by dnoyeb (547705) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @08:33AM (#25367229) Homepage Journal

      Whats funny is that at least what is posted is not MS ethics. Those are Federal laws. They can call them ethics if they want, but not paying off foreign officials is not an ethical question. Its a legal one.

      Anything to do with gaining favor from a foreign government is strictly illegal. (except for attempts to speed up what is the natural process)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      I always tell my kids the same thing about politicians. Their words mean nothing. Look to their ACTIONS to learn the real story.
  • by crispi (131688) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @05:48AM (#25366437)

    I'm sure they have some ethics around somewhere? ...somewhere... ...still looking...

    Aha! ActiveEthics(TM).

  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @05:49AM (#25366447)
    I'll point out that they've had a big anti-trust target painted on their foreheads (both in the US and the EU) for a long long time now. I'm sure they actually do spend a lot of time making sure they don't run afoul of the local regulators, watchdog groups and newspapers.

    Having said that, Microsoft?? Ethics??? hahahahaha LET THE BASHING BEGIN! Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch of assholes!
  • by golodh (893453) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @05:53AM (#25366455)
    The opening post displays a startling lack of insight as far as the purpose of having a Code of Conduct is concerned.

    There really do seem to be people who believe that a Code of Conduct is there to limit what a company can do. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    First and foremost, a Code of Conduct is an integral part of the company's PR effort. Every self-respecting company has to have one. It's cool to have one, and you look stupid and unsophisticated if you don't. Besides, there is no need to be without. There are templates with good-sounding Codes of Conduct that are guaranteed to leave everyone a comfortably free hand.

    Secondly: damage limitation. A Code of Conduct is there to be able to shield a company from legal consequences of unethical conduct by it's employees on its behalf. If an employee is caught red-handed, it really helps if a company is able to state (truthfully) that this action contravenes their official Code of Conduct. This can really limit the damage.

  • by Tuqui (96668) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @05:56AM (#25366467) Homepage

    'Microsoft did not make any payments to foreign government officials' while lobbying for OOXML

    But obviously they pay bribes to squash the Open Source Software Law in Peru [theregister.co.uk]

  • If they repeat this stuff often enough, people will get used to it. Or even believe !
  • Ethics? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @06:17AM (#25366547)

    I suspect that if I looked up Ethics in MS Encarta it would probably say

    "Ethics - A county to the east of London"

    ---------
    Essex for non-uk readers

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @06:19AM (#25366559)

    "We find the word 'no' to be a bit strong, and not in the best interest of the company or some of its stock holders. For this reason, 'some' evil is allowed if it increases long term growth or profits. Or if Steve Ballmer wishes it. Please keep this in mind in your dealings as we do not want employees to become confused that they are working for Google."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @06:20AM (#25366561)

    *** This page intentionally left blank ***

  • After the Vista debacle and how easy it was for Samba to implement the new CIFS, Microsoft has surrendered to the inevitable now.

    They've now built and operate an interoperability testing laboratory for the Samba team to use to improve integration with Samba.

  • Weasel words (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dutchd00d (823703) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @07:27AM (#25366823) Homepage
    Funny how they say "Microsoft conducts its business in compliance with laws designed to promote fair competition" instead of "Microsoft will not engage in unfair competition". Gotta keep those loopholes open!
    • by MagdJTK (1275470)

      What's more depressing is that they thought it was required to put this in their ethical guidelines.

      When you have to actively point out that your employees shouldn't knowingly break the law, something must be wrong.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ledow (319597)

      More importantly - why bother to write that you'll do something that is a legal obligation anyway (debates about whether MS broke it are irrelevant). If they wrote "Microsoft will not conduct its business in compliance with laws designed to promote fair competition", then they'd be showing intention of breaking the law - there is no other interpretation.

      So what they've stated is basically a statutory requirement of them anyway. This is the sort of things that should warn you off a company - that they "agr

    • by pubjames (468013)

      That's what struck me. Many of the items boil down to "we obey the relevant laws". That's not ethics.

  • After all microsoft is a charity organization. Its only normal that they have a corporate ethics and citizenship code ....
  • Guidelines? (Score:2, Funny)

    by DJRumpy (1345787)
    Really, their more of a suggestion...
  • Not evil (Score:5, Funny)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @07:44AM (#25366917) Homepage

    Microsoft is not evil, they have merely raised incompetence to a level that's indistinguishable from malice. Redmond is not capable of the consistency of purpose and execution that really good evil requires.

    • Microsoft is to software what the Corleone family was to olive oil imports.

      (It may be what they do, but it's not how they make their money.)

  • Ballmer's letter starts: ''Microsoft aspires to be a great company'' -- which is him really saying ''I would like Microsoft to be a great company, but ...''

    We could have told him that all along :-)

  • Ethics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @08:40AM (#25367263)
    Ethics: Things you can get fired for but Microsoft executives can't.
  • Nigeria (Score:3, Funny)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@gmai l . com> on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @09:22AM (#25367695) Homepage Journal

    Didn't the Nigerian government expose how Microsoft was bribing them to move away from Linux on Classmate PCs?

  • by dkegel (904729) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @11:45AM (#25369869) Homepage
    I've been keeping tabs on it since about 1999. See http://kegel.com/corporate_ethics.html [kegel.com]
  • so? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tom (822) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @12:04PM (#25370157) Homepage Journal

    Pretty much every big corporation has a code of ethics.

    Few abide by it.

    So what's the fuzz?

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