Skip the navigation

Windows development chief: 'I would buy a Mac if I didn't work for Microsoft'

Microsoft's James Allchin made the comment in a 2004 e-mail to colleagues

By Eric Lai
December 11, 2006 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Longtime Windows development chief James Allchin wrote in a January 2004 e-mail to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and company co-founder Bill Gates that the software vendor had "lost sight" of customers' needs and said he would buy a Mac if he wasn't working for Microsoft.

"In my view, we lost our way," Allchin, the co-president of Microsoft's platform and services division, wrote in an e-mail dated Jan. 7, 2004. The e-mail was presented as evidence late last week in the Iowa antitrust trial, Comes v. Microsoft Corp.

"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 does not translate into great products."

Allchin, who has headed various aspects of Windows development since the mid-1990s but plans to retire at the end of this year with the shipping of Windows Vista, later wrote in the same e-mail that he would buy a Mac if he was not a Microsoft employee, according to transcripts from proceedings Thursday and Friday in the class-action case obtained and posted by Groklaw.net, an open-source legal Web site.

Jim Hibbs, a spokesman for Wixted Pope Nora Thompson & Associates, a Des Moines public relations firm employed by the law firm prosecuting the case, confirmed that Allchin's quotes were read directly from his e-mails by the plaintiffs' lawyers.

The case, filed in February 2000, charges that Microsoft used its monopoly position to overcharge Iowans for its software. Held in the Polk County District Court in Des Moines, it is one of two remaining antitrust cases -- the state of Mississippi's case is the other -- brought by the U.S. government and multiple states against Microsoft starting in the late 1990s.

In 2004, Microsoft settled a class-action lawsuit accusing it of overcharging customers in California for $1.1 billion. That same year, it was also hit by a $613 million fine by the European Commission for monopolistic behavior for its free bundling of Windows Media Player with Windows. Microsoft, which has appealed the ruling, was hit by a further $356 million fine in October for failing to comply with the ruling.

Microsoft, through its public relations firm, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide Inc., was unable to comment on the Allchin e-mail immediately. Allchin has said in the past that Vista's delayed arrival -- it shipped five years after Windows XP was released -- was the result of a desire to improve its security and make it perform bug-free from the get-go. (He later responded to the controversy about the 2004 e-mail.)



Our Commenting Policies