OPINION: Prejudices and misconceptions about Microsoft make it hard to evalute the company's merits. The biggest myths about Microsoft are that its desktop products are overpriced, it doesn't respect its customers, and reliability and security are poor. And some think the company is downright evil.
In nearly two decades of studying Microsoft, I've been able to dig through the hype that the company generates, as well as the misconceptions its detractors create, to see more of the real company than most of you can ever experience.
It's handy to think of the other side as evil in business competition and litigation (as well as in war and religion). While this can be interesting and provide focus if you are in competition, it can also lead to costly mistakes, because you make assumptions about behavior that is based on a world that is largely fictional. I'm betting your perceptions of Microsoft are largely fictional, and while many of mine may be as well, I have spent more time than most people meeting with and drilling into the company.
What I'm going to attempt to do is provide a different perspective than the one you currently have, because I strongly believe that much of Microsoft's problem comes from a lack of effort by Microsoft in helping people get a balanced perspective. People will tolerate a lot from a company or a person that they believe is on their side. They won't tolerate even the existence of a company or person that they believe to be against them. And too many people clearly think that, whatever Microsoft is, it isn't on their side.
There are three key legs to the belief that Microsoft should be avoided: They charge too much, they don't respect their customers, and their products are unreliable and insecure. Of the three the first is, in my view, the most prevalent.