A funny typo in the Map World Forum program caught my eye in a remote sensing session that touted “High-Resolution Imagery for Mircosofts Virtual Earth.” The typo in the program was surprisingly mirrored on the first of the presenter’s slides for an overview of their Vexcel camera, right under the familiar and correct Microsoft logo.
Earlier in the day, I had attended a well-packed developer program. The sessions in this track provided the audience with a good understanding of the different geospatial development environments and developer support from Autodesk, ESRI, Erdas, Oracle and Microsoft.
The Indian that represented Microsoft in this session struck an interesting tone that immediately made me and other audience members bristle. His body language said a lot as he leaned casually back behind the podium and proceeded to pepper us with details about what made them the best option for all developer needs. He asked what he thought were leading questions, getting reluctant participation from the audience, only to brush aside an answer or two and declare what the major pain points are for geospatial developers.
He took us through lines of code, asking us to guess time and again how few commands were needed to render maps and add custom data – “just three lines of code, only two lines of code, simply a few mouse clicks.” He stated that all the Live Local data was best in class and government-approved, and that they were by far the most aggressive and complete platform for developers.
I am quite impressed with Microsoft’s commitment and the tools and data that they offer, however, the delivery and arrogance made the audience eager to pick this presentation apart. When questioned about the meaning of “government approved,” which is an eye-opening declaration in this part of the world, the presenter had to backtrack and refer any questions to NAVTEQ who are their data provider. Questions were asked about whether it was possible to style their own maps, provide their own routing priorities, and various other levels of developer control. All questions seemed to be designed to reveal the limitations of the platform, and to subtly but thoroughly dress down the presenter.
When you’re the 500-pound gorilla in the room, a certain level of humility can go a long way toward gaining interest and support. I could envision an entirely different sort of presentation that would have showcased how the platform was being impressively harnessed by a variety of successful companies. And, an up-front admission that the platform isn’t the answer for all custom geospatial applications would have graciously conceded that there was a reason that the other vendors were in the room.
Whenever this ugly head of arrogance crops up in the future, regardless of the vendor, I know that I’ll be chuckling to myself… “ah, Mircosoft.”