by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/12/17 15:01 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/12/17/505062.aspx
It is easy to have an opinion on an issue.
In fact, it is not only easy, it is pretty much an automatic that you will have an opinion on an issue if you understand any part of it (or even worse when you don't!).
But big companies have to be careful about the opinions that they have, because people (for better or worse) use that information to prove that they are right.
I mean, how easy would it be to claim that your opinion on Taiwan, or Macedonia, or Kashmir, or Pakistan was the right opinion, and cite as one of the many proofs that Windows does things a particular way that establishes the point? Entirely too easy, and it has definitely happened
Funny, I thought I was doing software, not politics!
We walk a fine line, try to avoid stepping in it, and hope that the software offering can be acceptable to everyone.
Now I'm not naive enough to believe that we are bringing people together (though there are many people in this business who are, who think of themselves as ministers of peace by giving people shared platforms!).
But I and many others in this business working in globalization are just cynical enough to realize that when we do our jobs correctly, we make it a little bit easier for people to live with their differences, to agree to disagree since no one had to lose the argument on the Windows "battlefield". This is everywhere, from the time zone map to the locale list and the language list in Regional Options to the date formats.
Ignoring for a moment the "selling software" issue, when I look at situations such as those in Taiwan or Macedionia, I can read both arguments -- the ones that focus on how things have been for thousands of years and the ones that focus on how things are now. The rhetoric that proves one point of view or the other. It never reads as an unreasonable view point if you came to it without an opinion, because it is entirely possible and in many cases probable to hav two entirely reasonable but also entirely conflicting viewpoints. A simple web search can find entire sites devoted to different points of view -- and plenty of it is careful and well-reasoned.
Who is served by Windows, or Microsoft, or indeed any company making one side lose face, or look bad in the eyes of the other? Why make anyone unhappy just to prove a point that was not our point anyway, but theirs?
Perhaps a random Linux distro can use ROC dates to be an apple in Taiwan's eye while being a villian banned in China, since that particular distro was not going to sell to China anyway. But Windows has to ship both places and we honestly do not want to offnd anyone, so we have to be acceptable in both markets. And so on down the line in all of the different places where people have opinions. Rather than focusing on how one person's side is "proven" we try to show how both sides can avoid rejecting the platform.
Is that a strength of Linux? I don't think so. I am sure some others disagree, but from a technical point of view I'd rather solve the technical issue and allow it to work everywhere than take sides in the software.
Does that make us cowardly? Perhaps. But choosing sides means choosing the market that will accept you and the one that will reject you. And why would any software company want to engineer limits into their plans?
This post brought to you by "☯" (U+262f, a.k.a. YIN YANG)
# Nick Lamb on 18 Dec 2005 9:06 AM:
# Michael S. Kaplan on 18 Dec 2005 9:28 AM:
2011/06/08 Wait til you see my Õ (Ō), Latvian edition
2010/08/28 And here comes Macedonian!
2009/05/26 The Whey doesn't get a locale, either
2006/11/06 Who owns English, exactly?
2006/02/05 Keyboards: Monolingual or Multilingual?
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