Don Dodge: The new anti-Microsoft evangelist

Somebody at Microsoft should be fired for laying off Don Dodge. The list of reasons why his layoff was stupid gets longer by the day. Yesterday's Dodge blog post, "From MSFT evangelist to Mac enthusiast -- the other side of the road," adds another reason. This Silicon Valley insider, who for five years evangelized Microsoft, has taken on the true tone of conversion -- a man filled with new Apple and Google religion. His conversion to the new faith is nothing short of tech evangelism disaster for Microsoft.

In my late-December post, "10 things Microsoft did wrong in 2009," "laid off Don Dodge" ranked No. 3. What seemed bad for Microsoft then is suddenly much worse.

"The move from Microsoft gave me the opportunity to try lots of new things," Dodge writes. "The move from Microsoft was complete. From Windows to Mac, from Outlook to Gmail, from Explorer to Google Chrome browser, from Office to Google Apps, from Windows Mobile phone to Android, from Zune to iPod." Whoa. "But this post is all about the move to Mac." The statement insinuates that Dodge will in the future share more about his other moves.

Dodge may be the most high-profile Mac switcher ever. His previous role as Microsoft evangelist, now Google evangelist, and geek status among the tech community makes him a formidable and believable preacher. Besides, people love turncoats. Reformers. Perhaps even the converted. Dodge's status as former Microsoft true believer makes his conversion to a new faith all the more delicious reading.

Most importantly, Dodge makes astute observations about the differences between the Microsoft religion and that of Apple or Google. All companies operate by a worldview. In December, I contrasted the Google and Microsoft worldviews. Dodge somewhat contrasts the Apple and Microsoft worldviews. He writes:

The most obvious distinction between Microsoft and Apple is design. Apple is quite simply the best hardware/software design company in the world...My Windows machine was a Lenovo X301 with Windows Vista. It was light and small for travel, but I don't think anyone would classify it as beautiful. You see the design ethic in everything Apple does.

Dodge concedes that Apple's design and functionality advantages derive from end-to-end control over software and hardware. As such, the Apple experience is "just easier and more elegant." He delights in the MacBook experience: "The first things I noticed about my Mac were: the touchpad, keyboard (backlit), the screen, battery life, start-up/shut down, power cord and appearance."

Among the Mac vs Windows PC debates I often see a common trend: Mac bashers complain that Apple's offers less features for more money. But what matters is getting features that matter to the buyer. Design is one, and Dodge extols another:

The first time I used the MacBook at night I was delighted to discover the backlit keyboard. I had no idea it was there. I guess it comes on when it detects low light conditions. The light shines through all the keys so you can type in the dark. OK, you can laugh at my backward ways, but I never had a PC with that feature. Working in low light or dark conditions is now simple. I love it.

Dodge's conversion and anti-Microsoft evangelism hits where it hurts Microsoft the most. He also astutely observes the ongoing shift from the PC platform to cloud platform:

Ten or 20 years ago users had to deal with the operating system to do anything on a PC. Today most people spend their time in the browser. From my perspective the underlying OS doesn't matter much. All my applications run in the browser. Web browsing, email, documents, spreadsheets, music, photos…everything is in the browser.

"The OS doesn't matter much?" This from someone who worked for Microsoft, which business was built on Windows -- a product still fiercely important to the company? Ouch, a statement like that has got to hurt. I've been saying that the operating system doesn't much matter for years. But I was never a high-profile Microsoft employee. Statement like this hurts Microsoft more because of who Dodge is -- emotionally for his former colleagues and logistically as anti-evangelism.

Dodge concedes that human beings are creatures of habit, that he might not have gotten this new religion if not for the layoff.  "Leaving Microsoft and joining Google gave me the perfect opportunity to change everything," he writes. Over at TechFlash, Todd Bishop rightly put this in context of Microsoft's insular culture -- that it shouldn't take going to another company to try new products. Microsofties should do that now, regularly.

In the Biblical account of early Christian evangelism, Paul was a true believer against the followers of Jesus Christ. They were enemies that should be killed. Later, after converting to Christianity, Paul turned out to be a more earnest evangelist than the men who lived with and followed Christ. A true believer can convert many, as Paul did throughout the Roman Empire. The so-called Mac Faithful are known for their passion and obsession with all things Apple. Will Don Dodge be a great crusader among them? Or among Googlers?

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