Another couple of questions... this time with a look at a few other companies in the market...

"What are your thoughts on the Apple vs. Microsoft debate that are persistently flooding the airwaves and invading our precious commercial time? Why has Microsoft not shot back at the discouraging remarks Mac-ercials present about Windows operating system software?"

Well, I enjoy the Mac commercials, so I'm probably the wrong person to ask such a leading question such as this one (around the term "invading our precious commercial time.") It goes to show that Apple has a good agency: the commercial are memorable, maintains a similar theme, and pokes fun at computers in general. Owning computers that run the Windows OS (both XP and now Vista) as well as Apple's OS, I should also say that I have may share of issues across with Apple's products as well as our own.

As for competitors, I look for major hardware OEMs, like Dell, HP, Lenovo, Sony and Toshiba to prop up the ads...Dell had the memorable Dell-guy (busted), HP has the new "Get Personal" campaign (I like the Mark Burnett and Jay-Z ads, which are on-line), and Toshiba's Tablet PC on-line campaign is slick.

But I don't think that a rebuttal campaign works. (Here's a humourous look at the "I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC" ads, courtesy of engadget.) Perhaps we'll see more thoughtful campaigns in the future in the vein of the ones back in 1994 that asked "where do you want to go today?"

And this question on Google...

'It has been said that Google has driven many employees from Microsoft recently due to various reasons. How strict are the non-compete restrictions that you are made to pledge upon employment verification?"

Hmmm... Not sure that the implied statement in the question is true, as I don't think that any one company has driven employees from Microsoft. (And I'm not sure who has said this publicly.)

I can't represent all employees at Microsoft, but there are reasons that people may decide to join or leave a company at any time. More money, more time, greater responsibilities, better title... there are many reasons.

When I lived and worked in Silicon Valley, I found that the rule generally is that employees are employed "at-will" (read more on the wiki entry on the topic). People are tied to companies for different reasons: comp models, passion for a sector, tie to a new product launch, venerable stock option vesting periods... you name it. I know people who left their firms in SiValley and joined Google (disclaimer: a number of old friends are employees at Google), as well as any number of other start-ups, established companies or even out of the tech job market overall.

People are generally free to go where they want to go and work where they wish to work, at least until it often appears one enters the executive ranks: then you often find details of comp packages and 'golden handcuffs' documented in various SEC filings. In some cases, there may be more at stake. You might also see this miniMSFT's post on when Vic Gundotra left MSFT for Google, and was "taking a year off as part of his non-compete."

At many companies, people come and go every day, for an assortment of reasons. I suggest that you take a look at the various blogs of many employees and check on their reasons for leaving their last company.

Last, this question on Zune... in brief...

"What are your feelings on the Zune launch?" [My note: And I'll add: what about the continued pressure from the competition, like the iPod?]

IMHO, I think that the Zune launch was generally successful for a new $249 consumer electronic, especially in a highly competitve market segment. People who were eager to get one of the first ones available spoke highly of the device. And I dedicated a few posts to the Zune.

The interesting thing to see will be how the response continues, given the established competition from the iPod with several years in the market and 100 million sold thus far. I'm eager to see how the Zune team responds to the various flavours of iPods (from low cost and tiny flash-based to larger hard disc based devices), an ecommerce site with a good user experience (in iTunes) and rich ecosystem of third party partners that has sprung up around the iPod, selling everything from headphones to docks to cases and much more.

(Similarly, I look at how Sandisk responds with their media player lines, particularly with their new Sansa Connect featuring Zing technology. Disclosure again... I have a few good friends at ZING and wish them great success with their new technology and services.)

Folio Kickstand Case for Zune™I'm hopeful that we'll see similar support available for the Zune: already, I've seen a large number of accessories available on the zune accessories site (and the zune top ten list). Generally, it seems that the beachhead that the iPod has established made it easier for vendors of some iPod accessories to also move quickly in support of the Zune.

My favourite after the zune home a/v pack and dock is the belkin folio kickstand case (at right): very slick and perfect for travel as the case holds the Zune at a great angle for landscape viewing.