Residents and IT workers in the western NSW hub of Dubbo are delighted by a promised visit from Microsoft Australia managing director Steve Vamos this week; however, many doubt it is the technological evangelism that has attracted the software giant's chief to their community.
Many locals felt spurned by the international software vendor which, in a state-wide print advertising campaign, recently depicted Dubbo as a technological backwater.
However, the promise of Vamos' attendance at a business expo scheduled for the Dubbo showground this Friday seems to have ironed out any and all concerns Dubbo IT workers and those on the city's council have had with the way Dubbo is perceived by Microsoft.
Peter Vane, managing director of Dubbo IT shop IT West, said the problem was the way the latest Microsoft campaign (the one with the Dinosaur heads) depicted Dubbo as a technological backwater.
"The ad said 'there is no way to contact Dave, because he is in Dubbo', but we have Blackberrys, information technology and the Internet in Dubbo is no different here than in the suburbs of Sydney," Vane said.
"I do not know if the uproar over the ad was the reason Vamos is visiting, but I would imagine there would be millions of Microsoft products being sold in Dubbo and the surrounding regions; while it may have taken this to attract his attention, there is still commercial impetus in coming to Dubbo.
"I think it is a great thing Vamos is coming to Dubbo, [because] you certainly would not see someone of that calibre just visiting regional locations.
However, the point has been made and Dubbo is no different to other locations in metropolitan areas; residents are as connected as everyone and it is a nonsense to say otherwise."
Vanes said the general consensus in Dubbo is that everyone is happy that Vamos will visit, adding that there is no bad blood between the city and the vendor, because Microsoft had pulled the ad after they complained.
According to a Microsoft spokesperson, the visit by Steve Vamos to Dubbo had been planned for about six months and is to congratulate a Microsoft Partner for attaining Gold Certified Partner Status. As for the advertisement, according to Microsoft, it points out that with technology, organizations that can't stay in touch with employees interstate or at other locations are behind the times.
"The dinosaurs in the ad are a creative representation of being behind the times and in no way suggest Dubbo is behind the times, but rather that a hypothetical member of staff portrayed in the ad, is in Dubbo," the spokesperson said.
Tina Reynolds, Dubbo Chamber of Commerce president, who has already received an apology from Microsoft over the advertisement, has well and truly buried the hatchet. Reynolds said Vamos has done the right thing in pulling the ads, making an apology and taking the time out to visit Dubbo.
"To me he has done the right thing; he heard our complaints, withdrew the ad and made an apology. It is all very positive," Reynolds said.
Steve Vamos is scheduled to attend the Dubbo Business Expo on Friday, December 2.