Microsoft Learns the Importance of Knowing Geography

from the Culture-101 dept

U.S. companies don’t always do so well when it comes to knowing their geography. When Delta Airlines bought Pam Am’s famous international route network in the 1990s, they had to hand out atlases so the employees and company executives would know where the airline was flying. Now comes a story in the Guardian about the costly blunders Microsoft has made through geographic ignorance. Their gaffs cover not only geography but also political and cultural sensitivity issues. While some of the errors probably couldn’t be avoided, what is surprising is that others could have and should have been caught, but Microsoft took a lackadaisical approach. Working worlds away in Redmond, the issues probably seemed trifling compared with the importance of getting the software out the door on time. Microsoft acknowledges that those errors cost real money and more importantly tarnished the company’s reputation. Given the arrogant way they acted in the past about such things, it’s almost nice to see them publicly admitting to messing up, and agreeing that they need to be more culturally sensitive (even if, yes, it should help them avoid multi-million dollar blunders involving having their own software banned or their own employees tossed in jail).

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Comments on “Microsoft Learns the Importance of Knowing Geography”

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VonSkippy (user link) says:

Boo Hoo

Yeah, like all those 3rd rate countries NEVER made any mistakes of their own. Just another case of the moron trying to play “poor me lotto” with a UberRich Company. MS should have told them what they could do with all the CD’s they found offensive. It’s a mistake, nothing but ego’s were harmed, get over it all ready.

hanzie says:

Re: Re: Boo Hoo

It’s not always about ethnic wars in 2nd or 3rd world countries, though. I don’t think Belgium falls into this category, for example, and MS made a small cultural boo-boo in their first edition of Windows 98.

You see, Belgium has two large communities: Flanders (Dutch speaking) and Wallonia (French speaking). When choosing your region, Win98 gave you two choices: Belgium (Wallonian) and Belgium (French).
(By way of comparison, imagine if residents of Miami had to designate their origin as Miami (Hispanic) or Miami (Spanish). Would certainly annoy some people, I think.)

Worse yet, one of the two would actually result in a Dutch-speaking installation, although no one seemed to know which. In the end I just gave up and selected the Netherlands as my region. Problem fixed. 🙂

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