Microsoft's worst emails of all time

Microsoft might do better to keep its thoughts to itself. Shared with the world, they don't do Microsoft any favors.

The Seattle Post Intelligencer has collected and ranked the all-time worst (read: most incriminating) Microsoft emails of all time, and a dandy list it is, too. For heavy email users like me, it's also a reminder that some things are better left unsaid...or at least unwritten.

Perhaps my favorite of the bunch is Jim Allchin's 2004 blast against Windows...and in favor of the Mac:

I am not sure how the company lost sight of what matters to our customers (both business and home) the most, but in my view we lost our way. I think our teams lost sight of what bug-free means, what resilience means, what full scenarios mean, what security means, what performance means, how important current applications are, and really understanding what the most important problems [our] customers face are. I see lots of random features and some great vision, but that doesn't translate onto great products.

I would buy a Mac today if I was not working at Microsoft.

But then there's also the internal acknowledgements of the rising threat (and validity) of open-source software:

OSS [open-source software] systems are considered credible because the source code is available from potentially millions of places and individuals. The likelihood that Apache will cease to exist is orders of magnitudes lower than the likelihood that WordPerfect, for example, will disappear. The disappearance of Apache is not tied to the disappearance of binaries (which are affected by purchasing shifts, etc.) but rather to the disappearance of source code and the knowledge base....

The project must be cool enough that the intellectual reward adequately compensates for the time invested by developers. The Linux OS [operating system] excels in this respect....

[On attacking Linux.] Linux's homebase is currently commodity network and server infrastructure. By folding extended functionality (e.g. Storage+ in file systems, DAV/POD for networking) into today's commodity services, we raise the bar & change the rules of the game.

There's much more. I encourage you to read them all. They illustrate that Microsoft has long been one of the most forward-thinking and self-aware companies in the business...but also one of the most threatened (and threatening).

Microsoft was first to spot the open-source threat. It's unfortunate that it didn't also recognize the open-source opportunity.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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