Microsoft doesn't like to acknowledge this in public, but there is a real concern that AlphaGeeks are moving away from the Microsoft platform. There's a growing sense that Microsoft's vision is armies of Morts in command-and-control organizations. There often seems to be outright discouragement of tools to enable talented enterprise developers, or of agile development processes.
A few years ago my (limited) contacts in Redmond told me that they were seeing a real drift of technical leaders away from the Windows platform. More recently these signs seem to be increasing. Reading the 'softie part of my blogroll I got a sense of real disillusionment amongst people who have been long-time Microsoft supporters. Agile-oriented developers have been frustrated with the direction of Microsoft tools. Microsoft conferences barely mentioning agile processes, leaning much more to waterfall approaches. The tools, with their rigid role-separations, actively discourage the blurry boundaries that agilists prefer.
At RailsConf, Tim Bray contended that the key decisions on technology are made by the programming community. I partly agree with this. The reason we have so much bloatware in IT is because IT purchasing decisions are usually made on golf courses by people who have lost meaningful contact with the realities of software development. However golf-course decisions may dominate the short-term, but as time rolls on I think Tim's contention is true. So losing the alpha geeks may not matter this year or next, but will inexorably harm Microsoft over time.
Indeed it's already past next year for Microsoft. We've seen a noticeable drop-off in interest from our clients for Microsoft projects, particularly in the US. In Australia, .NET hasn't got any foothold at all amongst our clients. I'm not sure what to make of this data. We aren't so big to be a statistically valid sample on our own. But it's a useful data point nonetheless particularly since we like to think our clients are the "alpha IT shops".