Bill Gates’ confidential email: Mac Office users were Microsoft guinea pigs

“Yet more criticism of Microsoft’s business practices has emerged in the wake of the recent Iowa anti-trust trial [Comes vs. Microsoft],” Jonny Evans reports for Macworld UK.

“Documentary evidence that Microsoft considered abandoning Office for Mac in order to cause ‘a great deal of harm’ to Apple has emerged,” Evans reports.

Evans reports, “An emailed memo from Microsoft-founder Bill Gates to then Mac Business Unit chief Ben Waldman dated June 1997 talks about morale in the Mac Office development camp. At that time Microsoft’s senior management were considering dumping Mac support.”

Evans reports, “It describes dumping development of the product as: ‘The strongest bargaining point we have, as doing so will do a great deal of harm to Apple immediately.'” The document also confirms that Microsoft at the time saw Office for the Mac as a chance to test new features in the product before they appeared in Windows, ‘because it is so much less critical to our business than Windows.'”

Link to the full document is available in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Mac users should not buy Microsoft software (or hardware) – May 16, 2003


  1. F microsoft. Their time has come… and gone. I laugh EVERY single time businesses using Windows go down due to viruses.
    I am glad I get paid to support MS at work because I ALWAYS buy Macs with that money.

  2. As part of a corporate SWOT analysis programme where I work, I’ve just been given a motivation book titled ‘Now discover your strengths’ by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton. The cover blurb states ‘The International Bestseller’.

    Flicking through it, my eye was caught by a passage on p20 which says “In a business context Bill Gates’s genius at taking innovations and transforming them into user-friendly applications is a strength, whereas his ability to maintain and build an enterprise in the face of legal and commercial assault – as compared to his partner’s, Steve Ballmer – is not.”

    This book is now in the bin.

  3. “The document also confirms that Microsoft at the time saw Office for the Mac as a chance to test new features in the product before they appeared in Windows”

    And that’s why our version of Office was so much better for a while. Entourage was far and away a better email app than Outlook. Funny how the plan kind of backfired no ya, huh Bill?
    No matter. Writing is on the wall, your days are coming to and end.


    MW: ‘living’ (though another Cuba)

  4. In 10 years Office will be Microsoft’s only product. And it probably won’t matter what platform will be running it as all apps will be web based….. The OS wars will long be over. All we will will need is for the device to get us on the web, from where we can do what ever we need to do……Bank, Email, Access, get from and add sales figures to the office, tap into the proprietary database etc.. it will all be about the security of the browser.

  5. A sad bit of (internal self-deluding) spin on Microsoft’s part. It seems the only bit of “innovation” at Microsoft is in the Mac Business Unit. So Mac BU comes up with some new features for Office, and the excuse for Mac users getting them first is so that they can “test” them out before the more “critical” Windows users get to see them. I wish all software developers used Mac customers as “guinea pigs” and let then try new features first, before the Windows customers.

    Long live the Mac BU…

  6. Haven’t used Office on Mac for years.

    We’ve had to convert PDF’s to Word for a large client who relies on Word. The PDF we converted was 52MB, the Word file SolidPDF produced from that PDF was over 500MB!

    Talk about BLOATWARE!!!!

  7. Sounds like it’s time to mail our copy of M$ software, if I had such a copy, back to Billy Boy – telling his just when he can put such a copy!

    For the life of me I can’t understand why any one inthe Mac camp would want or need anything M$ at this point in time!

  8. I remember buying a copy of Office way back in ’95 or ’96 and it ran like a dog on my Mac. I actually managed to get a refund out of the company even though I’d already loaded that sucker. Nowadays I have no Microsoft products in my computer.

  9. @ jay,

    The client needs to put amendments on their documents, and demanded Word compatibility (we produce the docs using InDesign, so PDF creation is one click). Despite informing the client you can put notes on PDF files, they only have Word on their oil platforms… so they need Word docs.

    Since it is a £2m contract, I agreed to find a solution to their Word problem SolidPDF creates Word docs from PDF files. However, the file size increases enormously!

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.