Spotlight is Again on Allchin's Words

Just one month after a BetaNews report led retiring Windows chief Jim Allchin to explain his comments on Vista not needing antivirus software, an e-mail that is being used as evidence in one of the antitrust cases against Microsoft has him once again explaining his words. This time, it has been discovered that Allchin said […]

Just one month after a BetaNews report led retiring Windows chief Jim Allchin to explain his comments on Vista not needing antivirus software, an e-mail that is being used as evidence in one of the antitrust cases against Microsoft has him once again explaining his words.

This time, it has been discovered that Allchin said that he would buy a Macintosh computer in a January 7, 2004 e-mail to CEO Steve Ballmer and Chairman Bill Gates, had he not worked for the Redmond software maker. He lamented in the missive that Microsoft had lost its way.

 "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," he writes.

"I see lots of random features and some great vision, but that does not translate into great products ... I would buy a Mac today if I was not working at Microsoft," Allchin continued.

Although some might agree with his assessment, on Monday the embattled Windows exec began the process of explaining those earlier comments. He argued that the e-mail was "purposefully dramatic," and shortly after that e-mail Vista development was reset, and the team started nearly from scratch.

"Windows Vista has turned into a phenomenal product, better than any other OS we've ever built and far, far better than any other software available today, in my opinion," Allchin said, a far cry from his comments on Microsoft and what was then called 'Longhorn' just three years previous.

Regardless of Allchin's reasoning behind the remarks, it is the second time in a month that he has been forced to explain himself over his comments. In the previous instance, Allchin commented during a conference call about not needing antivirus software with Windows Vista in certain instances.

He said the system's new lockdown features are so capable and thorough that he was comfortable with his own seven-year-old son using Vista without antivirus software installed. Although some disputed the interpretation of his comments, it is notable that Allchin himself never denied the version of events as written by BetaNews.

Not everybody feels the Mac comments are a big deal, and some have criticized the media for making too much of Allchin's words.

"It's the holiday season. Can we please give [him] a break and not a Mac for Christmas?" Joe Wilcox wrote for Microsoft Watch. "Poor Allchin really deserves better," saying the remark was taken out of context.

Others said the comment at the time held a bigger meaning that just being read at face value. "So the challenge for Microsoft, and in some ways to an even larger extent Allchin himself personally, is to ship Vista in a state that is as bug free as the Mac," blogger and recent Mac convert Thomas Hawk wrote in his Web log on Tuesday.

"Vista is Allchin's final legacy at Microsoft. After a long successful career this is his last hurah and in order to be successful it simply must be perfect," he continued.

Allchin said in closing that the spirit of being able to be self-critical continues to flourish at the company. "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."

The existence of the Allchin e-mail was first reported on Monday by the technology law Web log Groklaw.

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Spotlight is Again on Allchin's Words