Microsoft Employee wears a RedHat t-shirt on campus following LINUX User Group Challenge at LUGRadio

Redhat provided every delegate to LUGRadioLive with either a track suit top or t-shirt hence many people were sporting RedHat attire both at dinner on Saturday evening and on Sunday. In my earlier post about LUGRadioLive I mentioned that I'd accepted a was for me to wear a RedHat t-shirt at the Microsoft office in Reading and to provide photographic evidence. In return I challenged Jon Fautley agreed to wear a Microsoft t-shirt at his office at Redhat.

It wasn't a big deal.

I did get some funny looks as I wandered around the campus though few people even commented. I wore the t-shirt all day long. I'm sure that Jon will get on perfectly well at his office wearing the Microsoft TechNet shirt that I've put in the post for him. Many members of the open source community at LUGRadioLive seemed to think that I'd get fired for wearing a competitor's t-shirt to the office and also that I'd receive a thorough de-brief upon return to the campus - hence the reason for posting this and to provide evidence that I'd gone ahead.

Much is made of the rivalry between major competitors and sure on a business level that's appropriate. It's easy to forget the companies are made up of real people. James wrote about an experience of an American Microsoft employee who registered for a Google event who received an email including the text "Because you work for a competitor, we politely ask you not to attend." 

I recently went to a GirlGeek dinner hosted by Google (making it clear I was a Microsoft employee) and found them to be very friendly courteous hosts - a company full of passionate individuals who believed in their products. James' post goes on to mention another case as follows:

"We had a booth with Port25 next to the Google booth. I was handing out a lot of t-shirts and I asked the google guys if they wanted one.
"We are not allowed to wear any t-shirts from a competitor" 🙂 very amusing, I asked a google t-shirt just for fun 🙂 "

This seems a strange response and I doubt it's representative of a corporate policy across Google. If someone at Google sends me a small/medium Google t-shirt then I'll wear that to the office too and send them a Microsoft one in return!

Microsoft products compete on their technical merit. I believe that we do our best to build excellent products, help our customers get the most from them and where we get it wrong we listen to feedback and act on it to our best ability - that's why I work at Microsoft. Wearing a rival's t-shirt doesn't mean my views have changed. I'm just challenging the tribal view that some people have.

Here are the pictures showing me going to work @ Microsoft Campus in Reading on Monday 9th July in my RedHat t-shirt...

Here's a close up on the logo:

And here's a picture of the LUGRadioLive organisers kicking off day two (Sunday):


Comments (3)

  1. Conor McDermottroe says:

    I saw you at LugRadio Live 2006 and 2007. Thanks for coming along, you really does make a difference to the show. It can’t be easy being such an obvious target for cheap shots from all sides. (Good talk at LRL06 too!)

    I’m surprised that anyone would think that you’d be fired for wearing a RedHat t-shirt at Microsoft. Your bosses would have to be seriously lacking in a sense of humour to do something like that. That said, if I was meeting Steve Ballmer I’d duck to avoid any potential flying chairs. 😉

    What prompted me to comment was when you said “Microsoft products compete on their technical merit”. IMO, that’s not the whole story. Something like this might be more accurate: “Microsoft products compete on their technical merit, inertia in the marketplace and a well-honed FUD machine”. The competing on technical merit is good, the inertia in the market is a fact of life but it’s the FUD/dirty tricks that bug me. A good example on this is the “Linux infringes 200+ MSFT patents” claim. It’s clearly FUD, if it wasn’t then Microsoft would simply publish a list of the patents it holds which it thinks Linux infringes and the Linux community would rectify it by rewriting or removing infringing code (or possibly even with a licensing deal if it was possible). It would all be resolved quickly and amicably. The reason these tactics bug me is that Microsoft /doesn’t need to do it/. You guys have a lot of talent and a dominant market position (and as far as I can tell ALL the money :-)) so you’re well ahead of the game already. Straight competition based on all parties focussing on delivering the best technology to the end user will benefit everybody in the long run. Not just that, Microsoft would probably still end up being the dominant force in the industry.

    Of course there’s FUD going in the opposite direction too. The “Windows is less secure than Linux” red herring for example. Almost every argument I’ve seen on that topic from both sides has been bullshit.

    Anyway, thanks for coming to LRL, hope to see you there again next year.

  2. stodge says:

    I’d send you a NAV CANADA t-shirt but I don’t have any and they don’t give them out for free. Ah well, the downside of working for a not for profit organisation. I see you’re still a fine figure of a man, though I’m not convinced your hair is still real. 😉

    Just kidding! It’s good to see an open attitude and friendly competition with a touch of humour. Now where do I sign up to submit feedback. 🙂

  3. Jon Fautley says:

    Hey Steve!

    Nice to see you’ve not been fired 😉

    As soon as I get my shirt, I’ll provide photographic evidence of me wearing it around the Red Hat offices in the UK.

    Funnily enough, I did get a salesman half-jokingly asking why I was wearing a Debian T-Shirt while walking around the customer training center the other day… lets see how he reacts to the MS shirt! 🙂



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