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Sleeping with the Enemy - page 2

Looking at the Big Picture

  • January 26, 2001
  • By Michael Hall

So my interest was piqued last week when a gentleman introduced himself to the Evolution list with this opening line:

Hi, I'm pretty excited about Evolution and wanted to do what I can to help it become a huge success....

I used to be a Program Manager on Outlook at Microsoft (please, don't throw stones). Since Evolution is trying to improve upon what Outlook is and I'd love to see a product that is what Outlook could have been, I'd be more than happy to share my knowledge about what we learned in Outlook from users, both end-users & corporate users. Hopefully, this info can help the development and prioritization of Evolution.

An introduction like that, when you're a writer deep in a winter funk and recently called on your community's occasional flights into angry vitriol, invites a sharp intake of breath and a morbid curiosity akin to walking up on a mob hit that involves an accountant and a pit full of rabid dogs. Cynicism demands a forecast that involves impending doom, hurt feelings, and some screaming. The writer had stepped up to the intersection where anti-Microsoft sentiment and mailing list culture meet. I was hoping they'd just ignore him because the alternative wasn't pleasant.

I'm going out of my way to report that I was happily, happily wrong.

Now, it's no secret that the folks at Ximian are admirers of Outlook. The most ardent fan of all things UNIX-like I know (and a full-on despiser of "desktop environments") even argues that Outlook and Eudora outclass most of what we've got in the Linux world at the moment, and that in this area a peek at the Microsoft playbook is in order from time to time if we're really about making Linux easier on the mythical "end user."

But knowing this and people wanting to hear all about it from an ex-Microsoftie are different issues, and I was expecting the usual spate of "We don't want Micro$oft crap" missives from people who have a hard time expressing themselves nicely or seeing any good in anything from "the Beast."

The response, though, was a revelation:

A relatively lengthy and respectful thread ensued. People had their disagreements, but they were thoughtful and well-reasoned. There was none of the knee-jerk rabidity you can get in more public fora -- just people talking about how to make things better, with others thanking the writer who instigated the thread and encouraging Evolution's developers.

People behaved themselves, and well enough that I'm sorry I expected any different.

I've been told since that this is the norm more often than not on KDE lists, and I've got no reason to disbelieve that. If KDE were my beat, I'd probably be telling the same story with different characters.

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