There seems to be a lot of blog chatter about corporate blogging at the moment; specifically how beneficial it can be. Well Microsoft has managed to make it work but I think they are in a rather unique position. Of the hundreds of Microsoft bloggers, most are blogging about new products and features. This allows them to generate interest and effectively market the new software. Their blogs are very popular and a request for feedback usually gets a number of useful suggestions.
All very good for the customer but blogs are open to the public. Anyone can read them and make use of their content. The use to customers is enormous but competitors can also read and utilise the information. Somasegar is making noises about exposing more Microsoft internals from specifications to daily builds. This must be good news for the competition or is it?
How come Microsoft can do this without giving away all their corporate secrets? I guess the answer is scale. How many developers/tester/program managers are working on a typical product - thousands by all account. Most companies can't muster a fraction of that resource so, even if they did have all the specifications of up and coming products, there is no way they could develop a better product in the same amount of time.
Think about the flip side of this discussion. My company is tiny - I can count the developers on one hand yet we produce enterprise scale applications. What if I were to blog about new features I was working on? How quickly could a larger competitor steal my ideas?
I never understood how bundling a browser with the operating system could be considered anti-competitive because as a customer I like that Windows has lots of additional features bundled and as a developer I can rely on it's presence for my own work. For the first time though I can see how a large company can on one hand be helping its customers and at the same time using that strategy to gain an advantage over it's competitors.
I don't necessarily agree that big company blogging is anti-competitive and I don't agree that small companies can't blog so in a future post I'll talk about finding the right things to blog about.