And your effect on this company is...?

25 June 2008

In 2003, Bill Gates channelled just about every user of Windows and its arcane ways in a memo dredged out of the antitrust actions by the Seattle PI. All he wanted to do was download Moviemaker but the Windows designers had other ideas:

"So I gave up and sent mail to Amir saying - where is this Moviemaker download? Does it exist?

So they told me that using the download page to download something was not something they anticipated."

It did not get better for Billg and his download past that point. However, Todd Bishop's post has a sting in the tail. He asked Gates on his departure about the email, sent almost five-and-a-half years ago:

As for the message, Gates smiled and said, "There's not a day that I don't send a piece of e-mail ... like that piece of e-mail. That's my job."

When people ask what Microsoft will be like now that Gates has left the building, this memo and the idea that Gates sent lots of them should be the clue. Nothing. Because if any of these memos had any effect, Windows would be a rather different piece of software. The structures that Microsoft built over the last 30 years effectively nullified any direct control that Gates had over software development. I'm sure people who weren't directly responsible for the problems Gates had with the download nodded and agreed with what he had to say, and they all listened intently to his speeches. But they then went on their way to product-planning meetings that not only created these hindrances but ossified them into place.