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"I think we just don't care that much [about Microsoft] anymore," Zemlin said. "They used to be our big rival, but now it's kind of like kicking a puppy."

I'm just curious, how to correctly translate that? Does that mean that Microsoft is now "kicking like a puppy" on the market but can do nothing anyway or it is Zemlin, who kicks Microsoft like a puppy on the market?

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Don't kick puppies. Every time you do, God kills a kitten. – F'x Apr 7 '11 at 11:08
up vote 17 down vote accepted

The phrase "kicking a puppy" means that the action would be picking on/bullying a weaker target.

So in this case, Zemlin does not care about Microsoft because to them Microsoft is a very weak and easy target and to harm them (kick them) would be like "kicking a puppy" i.e. picking on something that cannot defend itself.

Basically it's an insult, they are implying that Microsoft is so small and helpless that it's beneath them to even bother with them.

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+1; Good explanation. The phrase also implies that it would be unsporting to target Microsoft. As in, anyone going after Microsoft is probably doing it for vengeance or just because they can. There isn't much strategic advantage to picking on Microsoft anymore. Going out of your way to deal with them is just rude. – MrHen Apr 7 '11 at 16:06

I think an adequate simile would be "like taking candy from a baby", if you're more familiar with that.

Something which is 'easy' (physically if not emotionally), implicitly mean or unfair to the subject.

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Hmm, I think "taking candy from a baby" has less of an emotional connotation and just focuses on the ease of the task, whereas "kicking a puppy" is more akin to bullying. – billynomates Apr 7 '11 at 14:56

Microsoft is not the one kicking puppies here; it is (being reduced to) a puppy itself. It used to be a serious rival, but no longer is, so attacking it is like kicking a puppy.

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