Last week, I read a post from one of my colleagues, which shared a coworker’s opinion that SQL Server isn't a "real" database system. That opinion was actually quite mild; I sometimes receive comments stating that not only is SQL Server not worthy of serious considerations for the enterprise, but also that Microsoft is pure evil. In fact, the person I know with the absolute worst opinion of Microsoft is my brother. Despite the fact that he uses Microsoft software for word processing and other daily activities, I have never heard him say a good word about Microsoft. He’s mostly opposed to what he perceives to be Microsoft’s business practices, but he has been unable to prove to me that the companies he does like are any better.

I decided to look around the Internet and see what other examples of Microsoft-bashing I could find, but when I googled the phrase “Microsoft bashing,” most of what I found was other people questioning why Microsoft should be subject to such frequent abuse. I had actually wanted to see some examples of the bad things people were saying about the world’s largest software company, but the worst I found was a Web site full of jokes about Microsoft (http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Plains/6271/microjok.html). There weren’t any actual facts explaining why Microsoft's software is so bad, just the jokes.  Some of them were actually funny, but I thought most of them were just dumb. In most cases, you could substitute any software company's name for “Microsoft” in the jokes.

Since it wasn't easy to find specific reasons as to why people bash Microsoft so much, I changed my search. I know that people bash SQL Server for not being enterprise-ready, and I know how to counter those claims. But I also know that other attacks have come in the area of SQL Server's security vulnerabilities. Because I'm not a security expert and can’t counter claims of SQL Server’s lack of security as well as I might like, I googled the phrase "security problems compare oracle and SQL server" and the first hit was the article "Which database is more secure? Oracle vs. Microsoft" (http://www.databasesecurity.com/dbsec/comparison.pdf). This article clearly indicates that Oracle has a lot more security problems than SQL Server. Of course, the anti-Microsoft factions could just say that the article was published by a Microsoft groupie and not pay any attention to the actual content, and the author admitted that might happen. But even if you don’t accept the conclusion that Oracle has more security problems than SQL Server, I think the conclusion can be drawn that it’s not only Microsoft that has problems.  As the biggest software company in the world, Microsoft is the biggest target, and the biggest target is always the easiest to hit. Because almost everyone uses at least one Microsoft product, everyone has had experiences, and they haven’t been all positive. So everyone can relate to the anti-Microsoft jokes at some level.

Yes, I do use a lot of Microsoft products because I make my living consulting and training on SQL Server. I prefer to use Microsoft products because I find them to be easy to obtain, easy to use, and well supported; however, I know they aren't perfect. Of course, I also use some non-Microsoft products regularly. I’ve already mentioned one that I use on a daily basis—Google. I use Intuit’s Quicken for my financial information. (I did try Microsoft Money, but that was after years of using Quicken, and I found that the transition was too uncomfortable and went back to what I was used to.) I use Adobe Acrobat to create my PDFs and Ipswitch’s FTP interface to maintain my Web site. And as a writer, I couldn’t live without TechSmith’s SnagIt.  Are any of these products perfect? Of course not. Do I get frustrated with their bugs and shortcomings? Frequently! I’m sure many of their users do, but the companies just aren’t big enough for someone to garner attention just by bashing them. If a product works for you (or if you have to use it to do your work), it doesn’t matter what anyone else says about it.