Jim Allchin wants a Mac (and Cute Overload reloaded)

And one more thing, it's IT Blogwatch, in which Microsoft's Jim Allchin's words come back to bite him. Not to mention Cute Overload, which has has a cute redesign...

Eric Lai peeked at Allchin's email:

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 ... "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.

Dan Moren froths at the mouth:

James Edward “Jim” Allchin, co-president of the Platform Products and Services Group at Microsoft ... is one of the primary movers behind Windows Vista, although he’ll be retiring after the OS ships. But Allchin harbors a deep, dark secret. He wants a Mac. Truly, madly, deeply ... Allchin, you may recall, was proposed as a candidate for replacing Steve Jobs. I’m not sure that’s a logical decision at all, but I do think we’ll be keeping an ear to the ground after Vista ships and Allchin retires. Perhaps he’ll be singing a different tune.

Jim Allchin (for it is he) grits his teeth:

Taken out of context, this comment could be confusing. Let me set the record straight ... I was being purposefully dramatic in order to drive home a point. The point being that we needed to change and change quickly. We did ... Windows Vista has turned into a phenomenal product, better than any other OS we've ever built


The spirit of being self-critical continues to flourish at Microsoft. Within Microsoft everyone considers it their duty to always put their convictions and our product quality ahead of everything else. That was the intent of my mail to Bill and Steve, and I consider it a great example of how this company can focus and do what's right for customers.

Todd Bishop reacts:

Presumably that means the Seattle-area Apple Stores shouldn't be looking for a surprise customer anytime soon. Nevertheless, Steve Jobs suddenly has an eye-catching quote to add to his slides for next month's Macworld keynote.

George Scriban:

Here's what bugs me about this bit of backtracking, though: at some point, Jim was probably saying something similar about Windows XP—best OS ever made. Yet two years later we read him saying that he'd buy a Mac, rather than a PC with Windows XP, if it wasn't for Microsoft signing his paychecks.
Nathan Weinberg is supportive:

The fact is, Allchin shouldn’t be ashamed of that quote, he should be proud of it. Longhorn at that point was becoming a disaster, and the decision later that year to reset development was spurred on by emails like this very one, and most likely saved the company. If [Microsoft hadn't] reset Longhorn in mid-2004, there might not even be a Vista today. Right now, arguements around Vista center on design issues, battery issues, and graphics issues. If we were still dealing with the old Longhorn, the discussion would center on buggy code, incomplete and broken features, abysmal performance and awfully inconsistent interface and design issues. The only way Microsoft would have had Longhorn out when it actually got Vista out, would be by rushing it out the door, and not getting all the stabilizations and bug-fixing we’ve seen over the last year.

"I'm not Mary" Joe Wilcox asks:

The question to ask about the Windows Vista development reboot: Did Allchin build the Mac instead of buy it? Many of Windows Vista's best features bear similarity to Mac OS X: translucent windows, ubiquitous search, widgets/gadgets and granular user rights, among others. Plenty of folks, me among them, have given Microsoft a hard time over some of the Windows Vista similarities to Mac OS X. What's the saying about imitation being the best form of flattery? I can point out Windows features that later appeared in Mac OS X, so the flattery--uh, imitation--goes both ways.
Pamela Jones explains how we came by the original email:

Here's the latest report from the Iowa antitrust litigation, Comes v. Microsoft, Inc., being held in Polk County District Court ... consumers are being allowed to sue Microsoft directly under Iowa's own state Competition Law, whereas in other states only OEMs had standing to sue, and the remedy sought is money, not vouchers. We have excerpts from transcripts of Thursday's and Friday's sessions, including a 2004 email from Jim Allchin to Steve Balmer and Bill Gates in which he says Microsoft had lost sight of what customers need and that he himself would buy a Mac, if he didn't work for Microsoft.

Lead Plaintiffs' attorney Roxanne Conlin also continued with her opening statement, providing the rest of the 9 examples of anticompetitive behavior, including information this time about Microsoft's EDGI program, used to compete against Linux, and she mentioned also Red Hat's difficulty getting OEM's to preinstall Linux. She also talked about Real Networks, who will be providing an executive to testify for the Plaintiffs, and told the jury that she will be showing that the same tactics used against Netscape are being used against Real. Next, she talked about the death of the BE Operating System. And finally, she discussed the subject of spoliation of evidence. Many of you will find it interesting to learn about Microsoft's email destruction policies. It seems Gates has a technical assistant whose duties include making sure that Gates' email is destroyed weekly.

John Biggs is down with the kidz, or something:

So like Bill and Jim were emailing each other and Jim was all like “I got a new girlfriend,” and Bill is all like “No you didn’t.” And Jim was like “Yeah, it’s OS X. We were at a party and she was all over me.” And Bill is like “Listen, this is 2004 and Windows is stagnant. It’s understandable you’re looking around for something more interesting.” And Jim is all like “Nuh-uh.” And Bill is like “Whatever.”


But now Jim is getting back with his original baby mama ... Got it? Good. Now Jim can get his stock options back.

Buffer overflow:

Around the Net Around Computerworld Previously in IT Blogwatch

And finally... Cute Overload reloaded

Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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