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The curious silence of the IE team – Microsoft needs to rediscover blogging

There are huge numbers of Microsoft bloggers; yet in some important areas Microsoft seems happy to let its opponents make all the noise.

Internet Explorer is an obvious example. There is an official IE Blog, but you won’t find anything there about IE8, just occasional news of minor IE7 tweaks. The comments on the other hand are full of questions, many of them good ones that deserve an answer, or at least an acknowledgement that someone is listening.

I spoke to Microsoft’s Chris Wilson at the Future of Web Apps conference back in February, noting that he gave a “good bridge-building talk”. There have been other similar talks, but little of substance since then. Anyone searching the web for news of browser development and innovation will find little from Microsoft, lots from Mozilla and others.

This is not about Microsoft bashing. Rather, it is about web developers and designers who need to make stuff work. Having some idea about where Microsoft is going with its browser helps with that.

Microsoft needs to rediscover the value of high quality blogging that engages with the community. It is not just IE. Soon after the release of Office 2007 I was among those who reported on performance problems with Outlook. This blog still receives thousands of visits from users who search for why Outlook 2007 is slow. Where were the bloggers from the Outlook team? Months later there was a tech note and patch which helps a little, but Outlook 2007 is still slow and there is no real evidence that the company cares.

What about Open Office XML, viciously attacked by IBM and other sponsors of the rival Open Document Format? Brian Jones has a good marketing blog; yet I’ve seen relatively little technical blogging from the OOXML folk at Microsoft, in response to questions raised.

See also Dave Massy’s blog.

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4 thoughts on “The curious silence of the IE team – Microsoft needs to rediscover blogging”

  1. I’m not clear what you expect to see concerning OOXML technical blogging. OOXML isn’t a product, like IE, it is a specification. There are people who talk about their adaptations of the specification and so on, and Brian Jones has addressed technical questions from time to time.

    What questions are you thinking of (the IBM cataloging of why OOXML sucks or what)? I imagine the ECMA TC45 is very busy working on responses for the Ballot Response process, but they have their own way of doing things.

    Do you have questions that are not being answered? Where are you asking them?

    [I don’t mean that to be snarky. I am trying to calibrate your assessment.]

  2. Iā€™m not clear what you expect to see concerning OOXML technical blogging.

    I think Microsoft would help its OOXML cause if it were more visible in the various online debates that I’ve seen on the subject. A lot seems to rest on Brian Jones’s blog.

    Tim

  3. Hey Tim, I get out and participate wherever I can, and I know a few other MS people who do (Stephen McGibbon being the most vocal I’d say).

    One thing that makes “discussion” a bit difficult is that there is so much nastiness coming from some who see Open XML as a dragon to be slain. For those people, technical comparisons of Open XML and other formats are about “morality” and “evil” and conspiracy theories, and they engage in constant name-calling and question the ethics and integrity of anyone who disagrees with them.

    Just look around at the longer threads on any of the blogs discussing this topic — if you were a Microsoft employee, would you wade into that tar pit of emotion and anger? I agree we need more voices involved, but I can certainly understand why some might not be comfortable with that.

    Regarding Brian’s being a “marketing” blog, you may not be aware that he has posted quite a bit of technical content in the past. But as the rhetoric has heated up from Open XML critics, Brian’s blog has often played the role of responding to those claims. I know that Brian, like myself, would rather just discuss the technical details, but at the same time we need to respond to those who misrepresent our opinions, actions, and motives.

  4. Just look around at the longer threads on any of the blogs discussing this topic ā€” if you were a Microsoft employee, would you wade into that tar pit of emotion and anger?

    I see your point, but sometimes some quietly stated corrections or context can do a lot to lower the temperature. Some are not worth bothering with, for sure.

    Thanks

    Tim

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