05 November 2008

Why is the BBC Running Microsoft Ads?

I wrote below about Microsoft's rather desperate BizSpark. It all seemed pretty transparent to me. But not to the BBC, apparently, which has fallen hook, line and sinker for the Microsoft line:

"The rising tide of people building new companies, building successful companies using our product is good for us because we share in that over time. The goal is to remove any barriers to getting going." he told BBC News.

Except, of course, there are no barriers to getting going as far as software is concerned, because the LAMP stack has always been there, always free and always excellent - as evidenced by the fact that it's currently running 99.9% of Web 2.0.

But it's obviously too much to expect a technology reporter in Silicon Valley to mention such trivia in the face of the *real* story about Microsoft's perfervid altruism.


Leslie P. Polzer said...


Excuse me for stifling your encouraging enthusiasm, but "excellent" is too exalted a label for the LAMP stack.

At least the PHP part of LAMP has *serious* shortcomings as a programming language and has been labelled aptly as "BASIC for the web".

It being open-source and easily accessible for beginners (as is BASIC) is of course a good thing and makes it already way better than proprietary solutions.

But excellent? No, not really. :)


Anonymous said...

The BBC has a history of giving companies a platform from which to make their product claims. I sent the news website (I think) an email of complaint about three or four years back after a series of infomercial-style articles had appeared on their website over the preceding year or so.

The one I complained about appeared to be a thinly-disguised re-write of an anti-virus software vendor's product news announcement (it was Symantec, I think). As I recall, there was no journalistic examination or discussion of the claims the article contained, just a series of statements of "fact" about the nature and threat that viruses posed, which had a tone typical of AV company promotional material.

I've just searched for the BBC's reply, but I'm afraid it appears to have disappeared into an email archive or delete bin some time back. I seem to recall that the line they took was that the website team possessed only limited resources and that they were therefore obliged to grab content from wherever they could find it. Moreover, this particular topic was of particular concern to readers of their technology section, hence its inclusion. I can't remember the exact wording of the message now, but I remember being less than impressed with the justification.

Glyn Moody said...

Feel free to stifle - it's good for my journalistic humility (well, it would be if I had any).

But the point is, it's not my enthusiasm that counts: it's the overwhelming enthusiasm of Web 2.0 companies that counts. I only know of one major player that *doesn't* use a LAMP stack - MySpace.

And don't forget: the "P" also refers to Perl and Python - and they can't *all* be the BASIC for the Web....

Glyn Moody said...

@roger: you would have thought they'd have learned by now....

Anonymous said...


PHP does indeed have many well-documented shortcomings (as does the QWERTY keyboard), but "being so difficult to use that that vast majority of the web isn't built with it" isn't one of those shortcomings.

Computer science/academic standards of "excellence" clearly aren't required attributes to be a successful web programming language. "The perfect is the enemy of the good", as they say.

Finally, a couple of arguments from authority, if I may:

“There are only two kinds of languages: the ones people complain about and the ones nobody uses.”


“There are more useful systems developed in languages deemed awful than in languages praised for being beautiful–many more.”

Bjarne Stroustrup


Roger (who recently traded in PHP for Python :)

Anonymous said...

The BBC has been acting as a marketing arm of Microsoft for a while now. Have a look at today's prime example:


The BBC ceased to be a reasonably independent, public service broadcaster with any integrity post Hutton.

Glyn Moody said...

Thanks for the link.

Sad, really sad.

Anonymous said...

And yet another one:


Perhaps they should have a special section on the BBC homepage:
"Today's free advert for Microsoft"

Glyn Moody said...

Great minds think alike: http://opendotdotdot.blogspot.com/2008/11/sigh-another-bbc-ad-for-microsoft.html

Anonymous said...

The BBC has been at it again:


This thinly-veiled advert for Windows 7 contains:

1. a full description of the product;
2. a direct link to where I can buy the product;
3. pricing information;
4. advertising of a time-limited discount;
5. little or no editorial content. :)

Glyn Moody said...

@jsk: thanks for pointing that out. Great headline, too...