Thurrott Is Coming to a Sad Realization, Cancel or Allow?

Paul Thurrott posted an unusual piece on his Super Site for Windows, first published in an issue of Windows IT Pro UPDATE, which Thurrott calls “an email newsletter aimed at IT [read: Microsoft] Professionals.”

What makes it interesting is that Thurrott drops some pretenses he and other Microsoft fanatics have held dear. Does this mean Apple gets some well-deserved credit? No more than Thurrott ever gives. Does it mean Microsoft is being excoriated? Not really. Thurrott’s a Microsoft iShill and, as I’ve said before, knows — and in this piece admits — not only where his bread is buttered, but also where the dough is made and the loaves are baked.

This is a long article, so if you just want the short version here’s a summary of Thurrott’s piece:

  • Apple lies.
  • Microsoft’s solutions are long in the tooth and being passed by.
  • Consumers are finding alternatives to Microsoft.
  • Though other solutions exist, and consumers love them, we should only use Microsoft solutions.
  • We hate Apple.
  • We plan to beg Microsoft to do something about their solutions; using non-MS technology is not an option.
Ultimately, it shows only that no matter how impartial Thurrott claims to be, he has to stay true to the Super Site for Windows and the Windows IT Pro newsletter. That is, he must look through Microsoft-colored glasses.

Now, if you’re interested in the longer version…

“You’ve no doubt seen Apple’s infamous Switcher ads. Who hasn’t? In ad after ad, a Windows PC–played to humorous effect by affable comedian and “The Daily Show” contributor John Hodgman–is played the fool by Mac, a barely tolerable student slacker played by Justin Long (who I’m sure is a fine guy in real life).”

The first paragraph and it’s already wrong. The Switcher ads came before these ads. Apple refers to this campaign as “Get a Mac“, and some people call them “I’m a Mac” or “Mac/PC” ads. The name of the campaign isn’t relevant to the point Thurrott tries to make, but it’s relevant in the sense that he doesn’t know things on the Apple side as well as he claims.

“anyone with even a modest understanding of what’s really going on today in the PC marketplace will tell you that Apple’s claims often stretch the bounds of credibility.”

Actually, anyone with only a modest understanding probably wouldn’t hazard a guess, and anyone with a bit more understanding not only of the “PC marketplace”, but also of TV advertising, would have to conclude that Apple’s ads are either spot on or relatively tame. Still, there’s a reason Thurrott needs to discredit the ads (such as using the ridiculous headline), which we’ll get to presently.

“We can debate the chicken and the egg aspect of this equation, but my feeling is that consumer- and business-oriented technologies have been cross-pollinating since the dawn of the PC era.”

Cross pollinating implies a two-way exchange, but the Super Site’s stance has been pretty much one-way, i.e., use Windows at work, so get a Windows box (and other Microsoft solutions) at home as well. Despite the examples provided, this seeming embrace of cross pollination is new.

“So it’s not a new trend, per se. It’s just that the technologies have gotten so much better over the past 30 years.”

Technologies, sure, but all parties benefit from that. What’s really changed over the years (well, the last 10-15) is that consumers have changed: Being more tech savvy and less technophobic, with expectations raised accordingly. They won’t be led by the nose by “IT guys”, and that’s the crux of the situation Microsoft finds itself in. When consumers actually began looking, well, they found MS didn’t look so good.

“And it can be a headache for any IT admin who’s keen to keep his employer’s data from walking out the door on someone’s iPod.”

A nonsensical shot at Apple. An example of why you can ignore Thurrott’s cries that he’s not partial to MS and is “fair” to Apple. What about walking out with data on a Zune? Or using an Internet disk? Or how about any one of a million USB drives that could be brought in to the workplace? A lot smaller than a media player, that’s for sure. Thurrott isn’t worried about data walking out, he’s just getting in an unrelated “the iPod may be dangerous” dig, though it’s silly and has no bearing on the post at hand.

“But back to the Switcher [sic] ads, which are, in my mind, to computing what the “swift boat” ads were to the 2004 US presidential election.

Well, no, except to the extent that the best strategy for the DNC was to blame the Swift Boat ads instead of the candidate. So Microsoft apologists blame Apple’s ads instead of the products. Whatever. It was silly to make this comparison and, for that matter, to bring up politics at all. Let’s move on from that unnecessary paragraph.

Thurrott then spends a paragraph recounting some utopian world that existed “previously” (no definition of just how far back “previosuly” is) explaining why you should have used a Microsoft solution for your home PC, phone, gaming box and media player (the last one being especially comical). But now…

“Now, in increasing numbers, people are turning to Macs–especially mobile Macs–at home, and especially so in the US, and especially in higher education. The iPhone is the hottest smart phone of the past 12 months, and the new iPhone 3G should make even more of an impact.”

A reality Thurrott is finally admitting! When Apple supporters point out US numbers, Thurrott has always been there to claim they don’t much matter, on a global scale Apple is nothing, etc. Honest observers knew better.

As for the iPhone 3G, what’s the problem? Part of its success will be due to its tie-in to one of Microsft’s cash cows: Exchange. Further, MS gets an Active Sync license fee for each. Thurrott should be happy about this, but as we’ll see he is not.

“But a growing population of the computer-using public is using Macs and not PCs, iPods and not Windows Media devices, iPhones and not Windows Mobile devices. They’re using cloud-based email and personal information management services, not complex internally-managed systems like Exchange.”

As I said, users are more savvy now and not being led around by the nose. They try the Mac and discover what Apple supporters have said all along. It’s usually better. In many ways a lot better. How many articles in the last couple of years from Windows-to-Mac converts began by stating up front they’re not fanbois, but that the Mac really is a better OS? They’re afraid of getting labeled, and yet they’re seeing what Apple supporters have always seen.

“And when they get into the workplace, they’re going to expect access to the same trusted and beloved technologies, just as people have always done. Small businesses? Why would they set up a complex local server that requires constant attention and management when they can get Google Apps for free or next to nothing? The world is moving on.”

Absolutely! The world is moving on. Another healthy admission from Thurrott! So this is where the article suggests that IT Professionals move with it, right?



“The problem with this unfolding future is that Microsoft isn’t rising to the challenge.”

That’s only a “problem” of the future when you have to insist on using Microsoft solutions! If you’re publishing for the “IT Professional”, instead of the “Windows IT Professional”, you could suggest using the tools you just acknowledged work well and that consumers love and expect. But the reality is it’s not about the users, or the technology, or the future, it’s about Microsoft, hence Windows IT Pro.

“As for the Switcher [sic] ads, Microsoft has been notably silent, allowing Apple to control the discussion and let perception become reality. And honestly, why would Microsoft even license Exchange to Apple? Are they crazy?”

In other words, the stuff Thurrott admitted above about users and cloud-based computing and other “trusted and beloved technologies” was all a bunch of hooey. Thurrott’s true spots (not Leopard, unfortunately) are showing. Use Windows Mobile with Active Sync. Heck, even use RIM if you have to, but don’t use Apple. The Microsoft iShill bashes Apple to the last.

“What’s next? A license to run Windows applications on the Mac?”

Apple already has this, but Thurrott knew that.

Ultimately, despite the shots at Apple and the bad political comparison, what Thurrott builds here is a case to encourage IT professionals to learn new solutions. Why wouldn’t an IT professional want to learn new technologoes that people love? Haven’t they learned that using tools your users can relate to and appreciate makes them happier? Indeed, makes the support job easier?

No one says you have to throw your MS knowledge away; it’s not going anywhere, but why not broaden your horizons? If it was un-biased, an IT Professional article would have been about a different way of thinking. Instead, it’s not so much about the IT professional as it is propagating the MS hegemony. Since it can’t suggest an IT profesional gain skills in certain non-Microsoft technologies, it concludes with the following pathetic, sad plea (emphasis mine):

“And if you care about the systems you support now, your jobs, and your very livelihood, you might do [sic] demand the same from the company. All of us have backed the same horse. And from what I can tell, that horse looks like it’s’ ready for the proverbial pasture.”

Wow. Just wow.

For ages, Apple supporters and open-minded technologists have claimed that the Apple-bashing Microsoft apologists have done so because they owe their living to Microsoft. Because if Microsoft goes, so do they. These statement have been repeatedly denied at every turn and yet, now, finally Thurrott admits what we knew all along. But what’s sad is that his method to address it must be framed with the mind-set that Microsoft has to remain the solution! His publication simply has no choice.

Yes, let’s beg Microsoft to start bullying people around like they did in the 90s. Promising mounds of technology they wouldn’t deliver, and stifling innovation in the process. The problem with that plan now is that MS is currently powerless to pull those stunts. The cool new stuff is not really on the Enterprise desktop, so Microsoft’s monopoly cannot help them. They need to actually compete, and the fact is their products just aren’t that competitive. Thurrott can’t completely admit that, so he whines about Apple’s ads.

Overall, we get some good (and obvious, and long overdue) admissions from Thurrott, but it’s a pity he couldn’t have concluded the article thusly:

And if you care about the functionality you support now, your users, and your profession, you should consider looking into these alternatives to Microsoft’s somewhat outdated tools and methodoligies. MS solutions may have their place, but many times they do not, and the smarter IT Professionals will not be tied to one architecture or brand, but rather be flexible to changing new technologies and user expectations.

16 thoughts on “Thurrott Is Coming to a Sad Realization, Cancel or Allow?

  1. Man, I can go weeks without thinking of Paul Thurott and then you go and bring him up again! I try to ignore the shills, but well-meaning bloggers keep bringing them back to the fore. Just leave them lie, please…

  2. As always, nice dissection of a Thurrot article. I’m not surprised by anything he writes, but I am amused at how he tries to deny he’s a MS shill. Thanks again for the entertaining blog post.

  3. E,

    Thanks for the correction regarding the Zune. Of course, anyone walking out with corporate data has malicious intent, and would therefore have hacked the Zune accordingly.

    Still, the point is valid especially because there’s little reason to hack a Zune when there are easier ways (like a USB drive) to get the data out.

    Finally, the whole “walk out with data” comment, which was really just intended as a shot against the iPod, is only valid if you have access to critical data and your IT group has not somehow locked it down from being so easily copied in the first place. In short, much like the political comparison, the security comment had no place in Thurrott’s piece.

  4. Sorry to say guys, but while I agree with everything here, the one knock against the Zune is incorrect – the Zune is disabled as a Mass Storage device and unless you do some SERIOUS hacking you cannot store files on it other than music files through the Zune App. It is one of the many drawbacks of the Zune…

  5. I read one of his articles a week ago and he still claims that Windows is the best OS in the world. Best at what? I use one at work (for many years now) and am dumbfounded at how businesses tie their hands behind their backs by using an OS that hinders productivity.

  6. Thurrott couldn’t reason his way out of a paper bag. Most Windows loyalists seem to have this affliction.

  7. Well written and an interesting view point. Thurott’s writing has always been a mix of fact and a lot of bias, and I gave up reading his blogs. Thurott mirrors a lot of IT guys; insular, stubborn, and always thinking they know all. If Thurott was working for our organization, we would have canned his ass years ago.

  8. well, the dirty little secret that lies just beneath the surface of the IT industry is that MS/Windows has been their gravy train, requiring far more billable hours of support time due to its bloated complexity than a solid Unix based software environment – whoever’s – would need. that’s why the Mac is so threatening to them – you don’t need as many IT guys to keep it running! Thurott is saying “stop Mac. keep Windows. save your jobs!”

  9. Paul recently advised his readers that iPhone 2.0 was finally good enough for his recommendation. He actually told everyone to go out and get one as soon as they are available.

    This new article is just his way of soothing his puppet-masters hurt feelings.

  10. Given the generally poor state of affairs in Thurott’s writing these days, I’m sort of surprised he didn’t include a quote from noted analyst Rob Enderle just to ice the cake.

  11. Great article Tom!

    Things must be very serious for MSFT these days for Paul to write these kinds of comments. His article speaks volumes on everything that is wrong with MSFT. Consumers, as you say, are driving this boat, and they are much more demanding than 10-15 years ago when they were lucky to even get a PC on their desk. Couple that with the Vista debacle and the situation looks rather bleak for MSFT. The times they are a’changin!

    Great response to Paul’s admissions.

  12. “What about walking out with data on a Zune?”

    Not very likely. Nobody has one. It’s very rarity would draw unwelcome attention. ;o)

  13. Great article, except for the last couple of paragraphs. Why on earth should Thurrott advocate flexibility? That would require effort, an open mind, and consideration of user’s needs – none of which benefits the IT (Windows) professional.

    Self serving, sure – but looking out for Number One is the American way.

  14. We all know what Tourettes Syndrome is, now we know Thurotts Syndrome, a powerful and uncontrollable urge to blurt crazed non-sequitors while either talking or typing.

  15. As usual, Paul shows his colors:

    “And it can be a headache for any IT admin who’s keen to keep his employer’s data from walking out the door on someone’s iPod.”

    And your reply, rightly so:

    “A nonsensical shot at Apple. An example of why you can ignore Thurrott’s cries that he’s not partial to MS and is “fair” to Apple. What about walking out with data on a Zune?”

    Why Paul makes these foolish statements I cannot even begin to guess, but he does this time and time again. Your rebuttal to his entire drivel is spot-on, keep up the great writing.

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