An internal email that found its way out of the company and into the hands of Microsoft blogger Mary-Jo Foley reveals that Microsoft will be putting a new policy in place which will prevent employees of the company’s Sales, Marketing, Services, IT, and Operations Group (SMSG) from purchasing Apple products – they specified Macs and iPads within the email – with company funds. The email was sent out by Alain Crozier, the CFO of the SMSG division, which encompasses around 46,000 employees worldwide.
In the US, they will be removing Apple products from the internal Zones Catalog by next week, and they will be taking the appropriate actions to enforce this new protocol internationally as well. But, what’s interesting is that they mentioned that purchase levels internally of Apple products (using company funds, at least) is low. So why the need for a strict policy?
Perhaps Microsoft wants to minimize this as much as possible so the guys behind sales and marketing are actually using, on a day to day basis, the very products that they need to promote for consumers. I’m uncertain of what Apple’s policy towards this is, but I’m sure that the company culture is such where most employees use and “believe” in the products. Sure, Microsoft can’t force anyone to like their products through policy like this, but at least they’re making them truly “aware” of what they’re promoting. And the people who do end up loving the products will do an even better job at selling them.
One counterargument to this, however, is that it’s good for Microsoft employees to use competitors’ products to know what they’re up against. That’s true and false; there are other teams that could draw more value from using competing products, such as actual product development teams. But, on the other hand, it’s also good for sales and marketing guys to know about the products they’re competing against so they can better sell Microsoft products.
Another possibility is that Microsoft wants to avoid as much as possible the lighthearted ridicule that happens when a Microsoft employee is spotted using a Mac. I can recall several times where people on Twitter were poking fun at a Microsoftie photographed using Apple gear, with some Microsoft PR guys displeased by the banter.
Ultimately, it’s worth noting that this isn’t a ban on using Apple products in the workplace altogether. You can still purchase and use them at work, but you would have to do so with your own cash. And is this a good or bad thing? It’s hard to say, I suppose that there are pros and cons for both arguments. But, perhaps by “forcing” SMSG employees to purchase only Microsoft products, those that do wish to use Apple products would buy it on their own dime, and still get a somewhat balanced view on it all.
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