June 25, 2002, 10:44 AM — Microsoft Corp.'s sensitivity to the positive press about Linux was on display in Tauranga, New Zealand, earlier this month.
Michael Doerner, owner of BayPC Consulting, was an exhibitor at a jointly sponsored Microsoft and Telecom Business Club event in the town on June 13. He was surprised on returning to his stand in the afternoon, having set it up earlier in the day, to find that newspaper clippings relating to Linux had been removed from display.
They'd been taken down by Microsoft's small business marketer, Warwick Grey, who is helping stage the Business Club events around the country. The events are aimed at promoting networking between business operators.
Doerner says he didn't make an issue of it at the time, but is taken aback that Microsoft would view his collection of clippings so seriously as to remove them.
"We Linux people are competing on such a small level with Microsoft -- it's really a David and Goliath situation."
BayPC Consulting is a three-person business about 30 percent of whose work is Linux-related. One of its customers is the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, which organized the Business Club event.
Chamber event coordinator Hillary Hughes says Microsoft could have handled the situation better, bringing the offending clippings to her attention rather than removing them. She says she can understand sponsors' sensitivity to exhibitors displaying competitive marketing material, but that hadn't been spelt out to exhibitors.
Grey, who was a strong Linux advocate at Corel, his former employer, says the incident shouldn't have arisen.
"He (Doerner) hadn't been made aware of the nature of the exhibits. They were meant to not be competitive."
Grey describes himself as not being "overly sensitive" to Linux and "welcoming the Linux challenge," but says the nature of the clippings was inappropriate to the event.
The clippings featured headlines including "German govt adopts Linux" and "Enza says 'no' to Microsoft."