Microsoft’s Bill Hilf clarifies some of the press he got

Microsoft had a wave of blog backlash over the past week, part of it due to quotes attributed to Bill Hilf, who a General Manager of Platform Strategy at Microsoft. Today he clarified his quotes and says “I’m sure there’s also a lot of questions about the Fortune story on ‘Microsoft versus the Free world’ – more wonderful sensationalism – and I will write on that soon.”

This is a great use of blogs. I remember Dave Winer telling me it’s one of the reasons he started his blog: to talk directly to people after his words were misquoted/misconstrued/misunderstood by the press.

34 thoughts on “Microsoft’s Bill Hilf clarifies some of the press he got

  1. the microsoft people are more scared of us OSS users than we are of them, we are the ones with the power to change desktop computing, not them.
    the reply that hilf is nobody is absolutely true.

  2. the microsoft people are more scared of us OSS users than we are of them, we are the ones with the power to change desktop computing, not them.
    the reply that hilf is nobody is absolutely true.

  3. Bill Hilf is a Sad Kermit.

    I didn’t follow Microsoft’s muppets much in the past, but he seems to be a particularly unintentionally funny one: he went within a week from claiming that Linux is dead, to claiming that Ballmer and Smith are misrepresented in an article in Fortune that they solicited themselves over on InfoWorld.

    If Hilf (or Matusow, or the rest of Microsoft’s PR clowns put out there for the amusement of the open source community & press) actually had a spine, he’d have been blogging about that Fortune ‘misrepresentation’ from day one, rather than waiting for four days, until it was obvious even to the PR dummies in Redmond, that the irreversible announcement that Microsoft is leaving the software business in order to enter the patent troll business, did not receive quite the reaction they expected.

    I’d bet on Hilf and a bunch of other folks leaving Microsoft soon, to cash out as whistle blowers in the upcoming lawsuits to carve up that beached whale, that Ballmer & Smith so eloquently have shown to be very, very afraid of the things to come.

  4. Bill Hilf is a Sad Kermit.

    I didn’t follow Microsoft’s muppets much in the past, but he seems to be a particularly unintentionally funny one: he went within a week from claiming that Linux is dead, to claiming that Ballmer and Smith are misrepresented in an article in Fortune that they solicited themselves over on InfoWorld.

    If Hilf (or Matusow, or the rest of Microsoft’s PR clowns put out there for the amusement of the open source community & press) actually had a spine, he’d have been blogging about that Fortune ‘misrepresentation’ from day one, rather than waiting for four days, until it was obvious even to the PR dummies in Redmond, that the irreversible announcement that Microsoft is leaving the software business in order to enter the patent troll business, did not receive quite the reaction they expected.

    I’d bet on Hilf and a bunch of other folks leaving Microsoft soon, to cash out as whistle blowers in the upcoming lawsuits to carve up that beached whale, that Ballmer & Smith so eloquently have shown to be very, very afraid of the things to come.

  5. “Really the whole thing is a comedy of errors, and the guy who was nobody at IBM may soon find himself a former nobody at Microsoft.”

    MS really is a machine, they chew good people up and spit them out bad on the other end.

    They find people that are hard up for money:
    http://article.gmane.org/gmane.linux.gentoo.nfp/65
    Hire them to make an example of them, then leave their reputation on the cutting room floor.

    Look at what happened to Martin Taylor too. The things they had him saying over there.

    BTW: Torvalds responded to Ballmer:
    http://www.linux.com/article.pl?sid=07/05/15/1455258

    Between a genius who made his own Operating System as a very young man in school and a bump on a log who throws chairs when he gets angry and thinks that 6 + 3 = 24, I chose to believe Linus.

  6. “Really the whole thing is a comedy of errors, and the guy who was nobody at IBM may soon find himself a former nobody at Microsoft.”

    MS really is a machine, they chew good people up and spit them out bad on the other end.

    They find people that are hard up for money:
    http://article.gmane.org/gmane.linux.gentoo.nfp/65
    Hire them to make an example of them, then leave their reputation on the cutting room floor.

    Look at what happened to Martin Taylor too. The things they had him saying over there.

    BTW: Torvalds responded to Ballmer:
    http://www.linux.com/article.pl?sid=07/05/15/1455258

    Between a genius who made his own Operating System as a very young man in school and a bump on a log who throws chairs when he gets angry and thinks that 6 + 3 = 24, I chose to believe Linus.

  7. I’m wondering if the whole Port 25 thing (which I found questionable from the beginning) isn’t now blatantly redundant with the deal with Novell. Maybe he felt a need to generate some instant hype, only the hype went the wrong way (as it often does).

    Now he’s claiming that his remarks were mischaracterized. this of course always helps to make a bad situation worse (along with turning off comments to your blog all of a sudden).

    Really the whole thing is a comedy of errors, and the guy who was nobody at IBM may soon find himself a former nobody at Microsoft.

    Now if they could just get a chief lawyer who could keep his mouth shut they might be able to get a valid message out.

  8. I’m wondering if the whole Port 25 thing (which I found questionable from the beginning) isn’t now blatantly redundant with the deal with Novell. Maybe he felt a need to generate some instant hype, only the hype went the wrong way (as it often does).

    Now he’s claiming that his remarks were mischaracterized. this of course always helps to make a bad situation worse (along with turning off comments to your blog all of a sudden).

    Really the whole thing is a comedy of errors, and the guy who was nobody at IBM may soon find himself a former nobody at Microsoft.

    Now if they could just get a chief lawyer who could keep his mouth shut they might be able to get a valid message out.

  9. The Post article made Mr. Hilf look like an idiot. Somehow I’m glad to see that it isn’t the case.

    I’ve talked with developers of free software–where can you find software developers for free?

  10. The Post article made Mr. Hilf look like an idiot. Somehow I’m glad to see that it isn’t the case.

    I’ve talked with developers of free software–where can you find software developers for free?

  11. http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=M4CP1WYSQ1WXSQSNDLPSKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=197002546&subSection=

    “Kevin Johnson, now the head of Windows, wrote: “I don’t like it to be public on the doc that we sponsored it because I don’t think the outcome is as favorable as we had hoped. I just don’t like competitors using it as ammo against us. It is easier if it doesn’t mention that we sponsored it.””

    BTW, Don’t get confused, that’s an excuse not to publish it, and have a shard of legitimacy to the reason. That’s not the real reason.

  12. http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=M4CP1WYSQ1WXSQSNDLPSKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=197002546&subSection=

    “Kevin Johnson, now the head of Windows, wrote: “I don’t like it to be public on the doc that we sponsored it because I don’t think the outcome is as favorable as we had hoped. I just don’t like competitors using it as ammo against us. It is easier if it doesn’t mention that we sponsored it.””

    BTW, Don’t get confused, that’s an excuse not to publish it, and have a shard of legitimacy to the reason. That’s not the real reason.

  13. @8

    It isn’t successful. It’s a joke. A very expensive one. Another meaningless project at MS on life support.
    The original get the facts paper produced by the lab did not include the fact that it was paid for by Microsoft. People had to raise the issue to get them to disclose it and stop their dishonesty.

    http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=M4CP1WYSQ1WXSQSNDLPSKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=197002546&subSection=

    This is what Microsoft does.
    I hope the people that work at Port25 and in that division spend as much as humanly possible on personal expenses and they exploit the crap out of the meaningless project for personal gain. Otherwise all is lost on that. It has no meaning. The RH Linux and CentOS users know it’s meaningless, and they themselves know how meaningless it is. It’s pointless. They may as well enjoy it. Look at what happened to Martin Taylor. I bet he got everything he could out of that place before he got fired.

  14. @8

    It isn’t successful. It’s a joke. A very expensive one. Another meaningless project at MS on life support.
    The original get the facts paper produced by the lab did not include the fact that it was paid for by Microsoft. People had to raise the issue to get them to disclose it and stop their dishonesty.

    http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=M4CP1WYSQ1WXSQSNDLPSKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=197002546&subSection=

    This is what Microsoft does.
    I hope the people that work at Port25 and in that division spend as much as humanly possible on personal expenses and they exploit the crap out of the meaningless project for personal gain. Otherwise all is lost on that. It has no meaning. The RH Linux and CentOS users know it’s meaningless, and they themselves know how meaningless it is. It’s pointless. They may as well enjoy it. Look at what happened to Martin Taylor. I bet he got everything he could out of that place before he got fired.

  15. With the amount of PR budget Microsoft has, I would be surprised if the Fortune article is anything else than Microsoft wanted it to be.

    Mr Hilf is intelligent enough to anticipate that people will rip his statements apart if he doesn’t weigh them carefully. I can understand his points, but harm is already done in this case.

    What I’m curious about is whether they regard port25 a success, as I hardly see any comments etc. (just over 1100 members, of which approximately 100 entered in a discussion in the last 5 months..)

  16. With the amount of PR budget Microsoft has, I would be surprised if the Fortune article is anything else than Microsoft wanted it to be.

    Mr Hilf is intelligent enough to anticipate that people will rip his statements apart if he doesn’t weigh them carefully. I can understand his points, but harm is already done in this case.

    What I’m curious about is whether they regard port25 a success, as I hardly see any comments etc. (just over 1100 members, of which approximately 100 entered in a discussion in the last 5 months..)

  17. Why are the comments deactivated at Bill Hilfs Blog? MS made a business out of OSS and the idea of OSS (they started 30 years ago) and now they are slightly frightened as OSS has become a lot more famous. Soon OSS will be more famous then MS.

  18. Why are the comments deactivated at Bill Hilfs Blog? MS made a business out of OSS and the idea of OSS (they started 30 years ago) and now they are slightly frightened as OSS has become a lot more famous. Soon OSS will be more famous then MS.

  19. I’m waiting for Microsoft recent hires Jon Udell and John Lam, to comment on how proud they are to be Microsoft employees.

  20. I’m waiting for Microsoft recent hires Jon Udell and John Lam, to comment on how proud they are to be Microsoft employees.

  21. Port 25 is nothing more than a constant Microsoft PR flow, and Hilf is head of that. I stopped reading it after a year or so when I realized that I had yet to see anything that Microsoft had actually done beyond what I already new. *Channel 9* had more information than Port 25 did on the very thing that Port 25 is supposed to be all about.

    The whole purpose of the site isn’t “here’s all the software and projects from Microsoft to make working with Unix/Linux/et al easier.” Instead it’s “here’s ways to run open source software on Windows, so you can use Windows as your OS under your FOSS applications.” Not the same thing by a long shot.

    Here’s a clue for them, not that they care. Any competent sysadmin knows how to run FOSS on Windows. It’s not big news. What is the bear is getting Windows and FOSS to play nice. It’s somewhat easier on OS X because Apple has done pretty much 100% of the work. If you need better AD integration than Apple gives you, there’s always ADmit from Thursby, and a few more AD-focused products.

    There’s some solid howtos on getting various Linux distros to talk to Active Directory, Solaris does it fairly well out of the box, and getting WebSphere to play nice with Active Directory is easy thanks to IBM’s work.

    None of that comes from Microsoft. If you need solid interop information that doesn’t involve running FOSS on Windows, Port 25, and Microsoft in general are about as useful as tits on a bull.

    Hilf is nothing more than a too-thin fascia on Ballmer’s FOSS issues.

    On the legacy issues, one of the things that has caused huge problems for Windows is Microsoft’s inability to say “We are going to stop supporting X, because the work required to do so is no longer fiscally sensible, and said support is making getting new versions of Windows out orders of magnitude harder than it should be.”

    Crap like parallel ports and old shit like that makes basic QA testing a friggin’ nightmare. The customer is not in fact, always right.

  22. Port 25 is nothing more than a constant Microsoft PR flow, and Hilf is head of that. I stopped reading it after a year or so when I realized that I had yet to see anything that Microsoft had actually done beyond what I already new. *Channel 9* had more information than Port 25 did on the very thing that Port 25 is supposed to be all about.

    The whole purpose of the site isn’t “here’s all the software and projects from Microsoft to make working with Unix/Linux/et al easier.” Instead it’s “here’s ways to run open source software on Windows, so you can use Windows as your OS under your FOSS applications.” Not the same thing by a long shot.

    Here’s a clue for them, not that they care. Any competent sysadmin knows how to run FOSS on Windows. It’s not big news. What is the bear is getting Windows and FOSS to play nice. It’s somewhat easier on OS X because Apple has done pretty much 100% of the work. If you need better AD integration than Apple gives you, there’s always ADmit from Thursby, and a few more AD-focused products.

    There’s some solid howtos on getting various Linux distros to talk to Active Directory, Solaris does it fairly well out of the box, and getting WebSphere to play nice with Active Directory is easy thanks to IBM’s work.

    None of that comes from Microsoft. If you need solid interop information that doesn’t involve running FOSS on Windows, Port 25, and Microsoft in general are about as useful as tits on a bull.

    Hilf is nothing more than a too-thin fascia on Ballmer’s FOSS issues.

    On the legacy issues, one of the things that has caused huge problems for Windows is Microsoft’s inability to say “We are going to stop supporting X, because the work required to do so is no longer fiscally sensible, and said support is making getting new versions of Windows out orders of magnitude harder than it should be.”

    Crap like parallel ports and old shit like that makes basic QA testing a friggin’ nightmare. The customer is not in fact, always right.

  23. Chris,

    You are right to a point, but there has to come a day when MS gets off the legacy crap. Supporting NT and 9.x is a major reason why their OS is as bloated as it is.

    For example, something as simple as an Intel wireless driver for MS and Linux has almost 30,000 lines of code. This is outrageous and shows a lack of tight and good coding. The OpenBSD guys wrote a driver for the same card and it was a mere 3,000 lines of code. Support is support, but bloated code is nonsense.

    You see, the problem lies with developers and their hardware. Drive space is cheap and plentiful, so there is no real need to write tight code. People are always trying to put in more and more features which causes code bloat.

    Legacy support can only go so far back. MS tries to be all things to all people. This is fine, but you state Apple’s base is smaller and it’s easier. This is not completely true. Apple has, give or take about 5% of the PC market. TO put this in perspective, Saab, Mercedes, Volvo, Jaguar, Lamborghini, and Porche sell huge number of cars, but all of their sales worldwide only account for less than 1% of all car sales. Apple has a huge install base worldwide, and if they can ditch legacy, so can MS.

  24. Chris,

    You are right to a point, but there has to come a day when MS gets off the legacy crap. Supporting NT and 9.x is a major reason why their OS is as bloated as it is.

    For example, something as simple as an Intel wireless driver for MS and Linux has almost 30,000 lines of code. This is outrageous and shows a lack of tight and good coding. The OpenBSD guys wrote a driver for the same card and it was a mere 3,000 lines of code. Support is support, but bloated code is nonsense.

    You see, the problem lies with developers and their hardware. Drive space is cheap and plentiful, so there is no real need to write tight code. People are always trying to put in more and more features which causes code bloat.

    Legacy support can only go so far back. MS tries to be all things to all people. This is fine, but you state Apple’s base is smaller and it’s easier. This is not completely true. Apple has, give or take about 5% of the PC market. TO put this in perspective, Saab, Mercedes, Volvo, Jaguar, Lamborghini, and Porche sell huge number of cars, but all of their sales worldwide only account for less than 1% of all car sales. Apple has a huge install base worldwide, and if they can ditch legacy, so can MS.

  25. I don’t wish to start a “who is better war” but saying “No one needs legacy support like MS provides.” isn’t very realistic. People do want it and need it. There is a massive install base of legacy computers around the world that do require legacy support for continued functionality. This may not be the case in the Apple world where market share is significantly smaller, but it is the case in the Windows world.

    I personally would like to see MS kill off DOS support entirely – we are not only in another decade but another century – but there is a need to maintain compatibility with other applications that run under Win9x/NT and later. Alienating that install base would be very bad for business.

    Cheers…

  26. I don’t wish to start a “who is better war” but saying “No one needs legacy support like MS provides.” isn’t very realistic. People do want it and need it. There is a massive install base of legacy computers around the world that do require legacy support for continued functionality. This may not be the case in the Apple world where market share is significantly smaller, but it is the case in the Windows world.

    I personally would like to see MS kill off DOS support entirely – we are not only in another decade but another century – but there is a need to maintain compatibility with other applications that run under Win9x/NT and later. Alienating that install base would be very bad for business.

    Cheers…

  27. MS is trying to pimp Mr. Hilf up just like they did with Martin Taylor.
    Who was Bill at IBM?

    Anybody heard of him before he was hired at MS? Much like Martin Taylor that answer will overwhelmingly be no.

    I actually worked with IBM on an account up until last month, and I also talked to the

    Was Bill as important as this guy at IBM?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Ts%27o

    What did he actually do. I think he mentioned that he managed web infrastructure on the VMS etoys website after leaving there. That’s not very impressive to me when very young people regularly do that on digg and other heavy traffic sites.

    In short, as a member of FSF, and an open source advocate. I think we shouldn’t care what Bill Hilf says because Bill Hilf is nobody. And Microsoft, and their horses and cavalry can not make him somebody no matter how hard they try.

    http://interviews.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/02/15/1258244

    Taylor had a far more generic background and at least he got a Slashdot audio interview, Hilf only got a text interview.
    His site and the joint labs with Novell are a scam. Just like those paid biased white papers on the get the facts website.
    I guess Robert Love won’t be working in the joint OSDL clone labs:
    http://www.rlove.org/log/
    Nor will Jeremy Allison
    http://news.com.com/Open-source+leader+leaving+Novell+for+Google/2100-7344_3-6145615.html

    What packages does Bill Hilf author in a typical Linux distribution?
    I’m not very impressed with him.

  28. MS is trying to pimp Mr. Hilf up just like they did with Martin Taylor.
    Who was Bill at IBM?

    Anybody heard of him before he was hired at MS? Much like Martin Taylor that answer will overwhelmingly be no.

    I actually worked with IBM on an account up until last month, and I also talked to the

    Was Bill as important as this guy at IBM?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Ts%27o

    What did he actually do. I think he mentioned that he managed web infrastructure on the VMS etoys website after leaving there. That’s not very impressive to me when very young people regularly do that on digg and other heavy traffic sites.

    In short, as a member of FSF, and an open source advocate. I think we shouldn’t care what Bill Hilf says because Bill Hilf is nobody. And Microsoft, and their horses and cavalry can not make him somebody no matter how hard they try.

    http://interviews.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/02/15/1258244

    Taylor had a far more generic background and at least he got a Slashdot audio interview, Hilf only got a text interview.
    His site and the joint labs with Novell are a scam. Just like those paid biased white papers on the get the facts website.
    I guess Robert Love won’t be working in the joint OSDL clone labs:
    http://www.rlove.org/log/
    Nor will Jeremy Allison
    http://news.com.com/Open-source+leader+leaving+Novell+for+Google/2100-7344_3-6145615.html

    What packages does Bill Hilf author in a typical Linux distribution?
    I’m not very impressed with him.

  29. Whether or not Mr. Hilf was taken out of context or not, he represents the true ambition of MS, and that is domination. MS probably admits internally, and at very high levels (read management meetings), that it is becoming less and less relevant as the years pass. What with apps moving online, Linux, Mac computer sale upswings, etc., they have every right to worry. But. They need to compete on a level playing field, not a litigious one.

    I’ve read several blogs and news articles over the last couple of days which mention MS is likely not to sue since they would be starting the patent war armageddon. OIN (http://www.openinventionnetwork.com/) would retaliate and MS would have a war on their hands they would likely lose or be badly damaged from.

    Fact is, open source/free software is an unstoppable force. People who say there are not thousands of independent programmers writing oss/free software are sorely mistaken. I know plenty of them personally. They write software outside of work and for no pay. In some cases, their employers are not even aware of their contributions. OSS/free software is unstoppable primarily because it has no owners. Who do you sue? The authors? Won’t happen. Too many people live outside the US where this would be difficuly to do. Also, nothing stops these developers from simply writing their code anonymously and posting it for everyone to improve. This already happens more than people realize.

    In the end, MS is becoming less important and their business model is/has become outdated. No one can really argue the fact that MS spent an enormous amount of man hours and money on Vista, and frankly, Vista is not a good OS. Almost no one I know likes it. There is not one Vista computer at my place of work. More and more Macs, though. Linux, too.

    MS needs to focus on what users need and want. No one needs legacy support like MS provides. Apple doesn’t really care about legacy support that much. OS X was written from the ground up to escape the problems of OS 9. If Apple can do it, MS can do it. With all that money in the bank, one would think they could actually put it to use and develop something worth using the public would rave about.

  30. Whether or not Mr. Hilf was taken out of context or not, he represents the true ambition of MS, and that is domination. MS probably admits internally, and at very high levels (read management meetings), that it is becoming less and less relevant as the years pass. What with apps moving online, Linux, Mac computer sale upswings, etc., they have every right to worry. But. They need to compete on a level playing field, not a litigious one.

    I’ve read several blogs and news articles over the last couple of days which mention MS is likely not to sue since they would be starting the patent war armageddon. OIN (http://www.openinventionnetwork.com/) would retaliate and MS would have a war on their hands they would likely lose or be badly damaged from.

    Fact is, open source/free software is an unstoppable force. People who say there are not thousands of independent programmers writing oss/free software are sorely mistaken. I know plenty of them personally. They write software outside of work and for no pay. In some cases, their employers are not even aware of their contributions. OSS/free software is unstoppable primarily because it has no owners. Who do you sue? The authors? Won’t happen. Too many people live outside the US where this would be difficuly to do. Also, nothing stops these developers from simply writing their code anonymously and posting it for everyone to improve. This already happens more than people realize.

    In the end, MS is becoming less important and their business model is/has become outdated. No one can really argue the fact that MS spent an enormous amount of man hours and money on Vista, and frankly, Vista is not a good OS. Almost no one I know likes it. There is not one Vista computer at my place of work. More and more Macs, though. Linux, too.

    MS needs to focus on what users need and want. No one needs legacy support like MS provides. Apple doesn’t really care about legacy support that much. OS X was written from the ground up to escape the problems of OS 9. If Apple can do it, MS can do it. With all that money in the bank, one would think they could actually put it to use and develop something worth using the public would rave about.

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