25 June 2008

[tech] The Bill Gates Email? Something's Funny About That.


The now-famous billg email ... the one where MSFT's Chief Software Architect complains about how he can't download Moviemaker ... is kind of bizarre.

Just like every other tech geek on the planet, I read it with great interest when word started to go round the world about it. The PI, of course, broke it here. From there it went to BoingBoing.

Now, we'll be the first to admit that we could possibly be wrong about it. But at least one or two things just hit sour notes here. They bother us like a stone in the shoe that's not big enough to bother stopping your bike ride to get out but too big to ignore.

Early on in the email, we read this short paragraph:

I decided to download (Moviemaker) and buy the Digital Plus pack ... so I went to Microsoft.com. They have a download place so I went there.

I've known a few store owners. If they want or need something small out of their store, say a bottle of Fantastik to clean a counter with and they're out, many times they'll pull it off the shelf and make a note on the inventory. They don't necessarily belly up to the checkout stand and have someone work the register for them. They write it off as Store Use or spoilage.

Does billg really need to tell his subordinates that Microsoft.com has a download "place"? I've always assumed that his tech mojo would lead to a more jargon-y approach, if only to call it a download "site".

I've been privileged to be involved in a couple of tests of beta release software from some of the big boys, as part of my technical editing remit. They set up a site where you can download the goods without having to go to the corporate site and do the purchasing rigamarole. Major companies send out very expensive software for review on a regular basis. I have trouble believing that billg wouldn't simply be able to download and just use the software his own company produces at will. It just doesn't make sense.

Yes, I assume that billg should be able to acquire software produced by his own company simply for the asking. No, it doesn't bother me that he can.

The rest of the email hits a similarly sour note. Regardless of the quality of the software MSFT produces, one thing billg isn't is a tyro. He and Paul Allen knew enough coding to create Microsoft BASIC and to adapt QDOS into the first MSDOS. Derivative, maybe, Stupid, no. I tried convincing myself that the writer could come up with something more complex than the Hello World program ... and I just couldn't. The litany of bemusement just doesn't square with someone with as much tech savvy as billg's supposed to have.

Like I said, we could be wrong here, and wrong as 7734. But this email just don't look right, somehow.

We seriously doubt it's the real deal.

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1 comment:

Dale said...

Good sleuthing ... I agree completely. I expect to see the whole thing laid out on snopes.com any minute now, if it already hasn't been.