Internal Microsoft email messages highlight Windows’ weaknesses, lock-in strategies

“The European Commission’s report on Microsoft sheds new light on a corporate culture and business practices that led regulators to sanction the company last month for anticompetitive practices,’ Michael Parsons reports for CNET News. “The 300-page document delves in part into internal e-mails that executives of the software maker have written in recent years, often with a strikingly blunt perspective on the weaknesses of Microsoft’s software.”

“In a section describing the way that Microsoft’s Windows operating system has become a ‘must-carry’ product for PC vendors, the Commission quotes from an internal memo drafted for Chairman Bill Gates by C++ general manager Aaron Contorer in 1997,” Parsons reports. “In the e-mail, Contorer outlines why he thinks customers have stuck with Windows despite Microsoft’s shortcomings. He attributes their loyalty to the high costs of switching away from their existing heavy investment in the Windows application programming interfaces (APIs).”

“‘The Windows API is so broad, so deep, and so functional that most ISVs would be crazy not to use it. And it is so deeply embedded in the source code of many Windows apps that there is a huge switching cost to using a different operating system instead,’ the e-mail reads. In the EU report, Contorer’s e-mail says that the API investment is what has kept customers using Microsoft’s software when alternatives were available,” Parsons reports “‘It is this switching cost that has given the customers the patience to stick with Windows through all our mistakes, our buggy drivers, our high TCO (total cost of ownership), our lack of a sexy vision at times, and many other difficulties,’ the e-mail said. ‘Customers constantly evaluate other desktop platforms, (but) it would be so much work to move over that they hope we just improve Windows rather than force them to move.'”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Perhaps never before have so many been so abusively manipulated while actually paying for the pleasure.

Related MacDailyNews article:
Defending Windows over Mac a sign of mental illness – December 20, 2003

50 Comments

  1. “In short, without this exclusive franchise called the Windows API, we would have been dead a long time ago”

    Well i am not surprised. Although I am surprised that MSFT admits this to themselves. I think Thurott is going to have an epilectic attack if he reads and understands this.
    He has been duped. Who would have thought.

  2. This should be publicized. This deserves to be publicized.
    This is so juicy…why should any of the news media shy away from this? But my bet is that we will only read this quote on this site and maybe a few others. How more obvious can anyone get for Win$in tactics?? And in the process, they even admit their shortcomings. If the media, Mac media, and Mac users need admitted juicy shortcomings from Micro$in, this is it here right in your face.

  3. “patience to stick with Windows through all our mistakes, our buggy drivers, our high TCO (total cost of ownership), our lack of a sexy vision at times, and many other difficulties”

    This MUST be plastered on every billboard, web banner and executive washroom around.

    Next time I hear a Windows puke talking to me about the high price of Macs and the Mac’s proprietary OS, I can pull this MICROSOFT quote out and shove it down their pathetic throats.

    (I feel better now)

  4. Well, Dr. Dude, I am gargling just to get ready, but the email is from 1997, when pc’s and macs were priced similarly. Since then hardware competition has made pc’s inexpensive compared to macs.

    Pulling this quote out makes as much sense as that “layfayette helped us so we should love the french” idea.

    Get current. Try to join the 21st century.

  5. Joe,

    The truth hurts. Expecially in black and white from the horse’s mouth, so to speak:

    “‘The Windows API is so broad, so deep, and so functional that most ISVs would be crazy not to use it. And it is so deeply embedded in the source code of many Windows apps that there is a huge switching cost to using a different operating system instead,’ the e-mail reads. In the EU report, Contorer’s e-mail says that the API investment is what has kept customers using Microsoft’s software when alternatives were available,” Parsons reports “‘It is this switching cost that has given the customers the patience to stick with Windows through all our mistakes, our buggy drivers, our high TCO (total cost of ownership), our lack of a sexy vision at times, and many other difficulties,’ the e-mail said. ‘Customers constantly evaluate other desktop platforms, (but) it would be so much work to move over that they hope we just improve Windows rather than force them to move.'”

    Not time-specific. Just as pertinent today. You lose. In more ways than one.

  6. If Windows users read this they really would be sick. I agree with everybody on this page, we need to distribute this to everyone who’ll listen.

    Isn’t it funny how when Apple can’t ship products because demand is so high it gets plastered everywhere, from CNN to BBC, but when M$ say something as bad as this there isn’t a word said.

    The worm is turning, REVOLUTION! DEATH TO MICROSOFT!!!

  7. Joe, how much has really changed? Obviously you know that you’d have a tough time convincing this crowd, and you’d apparently have a tough time convincing the EC as well.

  8. Try to focus guys. Dude’s point was about TCO. Mine was that the price differential between pc’s and macs has changed since 1997, making that old estimation of TCO (seven years old, several lifetimes in the industry) completely bonkers. I “win”.

    Not that it matters. As tread points out I can’t win here, and obviously that isn’t the point. When you guys get giddy and ignore the obvious, I will be here to help you regain your “credibility”.

    I am going to be busy today (sometimes I get to work), so I will put out the flames this pm…..just so you know I am not ignoring you. But please don’t take advantage of my time away to spout more specious BS.

  9. Joe,

    I have joined the 21st century by leaving behind “good enough”. By the way, how can you say that in 1997, PCs and Macs were priced similarly? I have ALWAYS heard that Macs were more expensive (aside from the TCO argument).

    I notice you had no reply to the “buggy” part of the quote. hehe

    Dude

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