Jon Webb's Blog

Friday, February 02, 2007

Microsoft, Google, and Control of Intellectual Property

I've noticed that I now go through this sequence when I'm trying to figure out the cause of an error reported in the EventViewer:

  1. Click on the hyperlink to the event.asp page on the Microsoft web site. This takes me to a page which says:
    We're sorry
    There is no additional information about this issue in the Error and Event Log Messages or Knowledge Base databases at this time. You can use the links in the Support area to determine whether any additional information might be available elsewhere.
  2. Go to msdn.microsoft.com and search on the event id and message content. This is tricky. Sometimes I get no results at all (too many search terms, especially when I include the complete message text). Other times I get taken to a page which doesn't tell me anything informative -- it will usually be something like a guide to the setup of whatever product I'm having the problem with, with no detail whatsoever about the particular problem I'm encountering.
  3. Type the exact content (enclosed in quotes) and the event id into the Google search bar. Click search. This always takes me to a page that tells me something useful about the error. Always! What's even more amazing is that many of these pages are on the Microsoft web site. Sometimes I can solve the problem by reading these pages and sometimes not -- but at least I start getting someplace.
The bottom line is, it appears that Google has better access to Microsoft's intellectual property, as reflected in its documentation, than Microsoft itself does. This is a truly incredible fact. And it does not bode well for Microsoft. This is a more fundamental problem, I think, than, say, IBM's giving Microsoft control of the operating system on its personal computer product. It says something is wrong about Microsoft's corporate culture: they've lost control of their intellectual property.

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