March 25, 2005

The Microsoft Mindset, and what brought on the VSTS Fiasco

Well, the blogosphere has taken a breather from discussing the Visual Studio Team System pricing fiasco, but this whole experience reminds me of one of the most frustrating parts of Microsoft's development and marketing system.

You see, Microsoft doesn't create their non-entertainment products for market segments. They create them for fictional individuals. (A fixed link for the link is here.)

Now, it's one thing to target your features towards the personas. It's another thing to market your product towards the personas, and that's exactly what the Visual Studio marketing team has done here.

Microsoft has targeted Visual Studio 2005 Express and Visual Studio 2005 Standard to "Mort," the opportunistic developer. "Mort" doesn't like to think before coding, he just wants to write his little program and get it done.

Microsoft then targeted Visual Studio 2005 Professional to "Elvis," the pragmatic programmer. He makes "real" programs, not "Mort's" toy "Hello World" applications. He may not know everything, but he knows where to look to get the information.

Finally, Microsoft targeted Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition to "Einstein," the paranoid programmer. "Einstein" unit tests everything, load tests everything, essentially tries to ensure that his application will never break...ever.

These are decent personas to develop for, but horrid to try to market to. Why? Because if you market to these personas, you essentially fragment your development base.

Most of the people who have been complaining, myself included, are "Elvis" developers. "Elvis" developers have another goal that isn't included in the persona, however. The average "Elvis" developer wants to eventually be an "Einstein." Few "Mort's" aspire to become an "Elvis," but you won't find many "Elvis" devs who don't want to be an "Einstein."

The nice thing about MSDN Universal subscriptions is that they gave the "Elvis" developers the "Einstein" toolset. They may not always use everything available to them, but when they needed it, it was there. They learned how to use it when it was needed, and came one step closer to being an "Einstein."

Now, the "Elvis" developers won't be getting the "Einstein" features without spending a metric shit-ton more money. The goodwill that Microsoft's developer tools division with the "Elvis" developer has been replaced with a mental image of Steve Ballmer fucking "Elvis" up the ass while chanting "Developers! Developers! Developers!"

In this case, the personas worked against Microsoft. Will Microsoft learn its lesson? History says "No." Microsoft does a lot of things...but the one thing it never does it admit it made a mistake.

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