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Microsoft: "We Were Smoked" By Apple iTunes

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 52 comments
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In light of an interesting New York Times piece by ex-Microsoft employee, Dick Brass, legal site Groklaw has dug up some pretty interesting internal Microsoft emails that were placed on the public record a few years ago.

An antitrust suit from a few years ago saw more than 3,000 internal Microsoft emails, which were made available to the public. Groklaw writes that the emails from the time of the iTunes launch are particularly interesting.

"It's Exhibit 7219 [PDF], and it's a flurry of emails from 2003, when the Microsoft top tier executives at Microsoft first heard about iTunes. Bill Gates said that Microsoft was caught "a bit flat footed again" by Steve Jobs and urged the troops to come up with something matching or better quick. Did they? Jim Allchin asked how in the world Jobs got the music companies to go along, and his assessment of the situation is short: "We were smoked."

Groklaw says that of the 3,000 emails (dating from 1988 to 2003), two are of specific interest. These are Bill Gate's response to the iTunes announcement, which amounts to, "How did they get such a good deal when the rest of us couldn't?" and former executive Jim Allchin's, "We were smoked," comment.

Check them out below.

----- Original Message -----
From: Bill Gates
Sent: Wed 4/30/2003 10:46 PM
To: Amir Majidimehr; Dave Fester
Cc: Will Poole; Christopher Payne; Yusuf Mehdi; David Cole; Hank Vigil
Subject: Apple's Jobs again.., and time to have a great Windows download service...

Steve Jobs ability to focus in on a few things that count, get people who get user interface right and market things as revolutionary are amazing things.

This time somehow he has applied his talents in getting a better Licensing deal than anyone else has gotten for music.

This is very strange to me. The music companies own operations offer a service that is truly unfriendly to the user and has been reviewed that way consistently.

Somehow they decide to give Apple the ability to do something pretty good.

I remember discussing EMusic and us saying that model was better than subscription because you would know what you are getting.

With the subscription who can promise you that the cool new stuff you want (or old stuff) will be there?

I am not saying this strangeness means we messed up - at least if we did so did Real and Pressplay and Musicnet and basically everyone else.

Now that Jobs has done it we need to move fast to get something where the UI and Rights are as good.

I am not sure whether we should do this through one of these JVs or not. I am not sure what the problems are.

However I think we need some plan to prove that even though Jobs has us a bit flat footed again we move quick and both match and do stuff better.

I'm sure people have a lot of thoughts on this. If the plan is clear no meeting is needed. I want to make sure we are coordinated between Windows DMD, MSN and other groups.

.... Original Message ....
From: Jim Allchin
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2003 4:58 PM
To: Amir Majidimehr; Chris Jones (WINDOWS); Will Poole; David Cole
Subject: Apple's music store

1. How did they get the music companies to go along?

2. We were smoked.

Jim

Read more on Groklaw.

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Top Comments
  • 24 Hide
    commandersozo , February 11, 2010 8:06 PM
    In their defense, I do like the Zune software more, especially in terms of actually playing music.
  • 23 Hide
    Corporate_goon , February 11, 2010 8:14 PM
    iTunes is awful. I loathe it with such a passion. Bloated and clunky and buggy as sin.
  • 22 Hide
    The Lady Slayer , February 11, 2010 8:03 PM
    They're only human, after all.
Other Comments
  • -6 Hide
    Anonymous , February 11, 2010 7:59 PM
    ROFL!!
  • 22 Hide
    The Lady Slayer , February 11, 2010 8:03 PM
    They're only human, after all.
  • 24 Hide
    commandersozo , February 11, 2010 8:06 PM
    In their defense, I do like the Zune software more, especially in terms of actually playing music.
  • 17 Hide
    brother shrike , February 11, 2010 8:09 PM
    commandersozoIn their defense, I do like the Zune software more, especially in terms of actually playing music.

    It isn't horribly slow, mostly. :)  It's also much more elegant and looks better.
  • 1 Hide
    Dawgsoverrebs , February 11, 2010 8:12 PM
    i Tunes has alot of cool features and the store is very well done but it is lacking in so many ways like folder monitoring for one
  • 23 Hide
    Corporate_goon , February 11, 2010 8:14 PM
    iTunes is awful. I loathe it with such a passion. Bloated and clunky and buggy as sin.
  • -4 Hide
    nforce4max , February 11, 2010 8:17 PM
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYecfV3ubP8

    Hmmmm news any one.
  • 18 Hide
    Abrahm , February 11, 2010 8:24 PM
    I can't stand iTunes. I have had a large number of issues with it. It just isn't a good piece of software. But when has mediocrity ever stopped Apple from succeeding?
  • 12 Hide
    hakesterman , February 11, 2010 8:24 PM
    I absolutly hate Itunes in it's entirety. I hate Apple for locking me into itunes for updates
    and syncing my Iphone. I want a program that will let me do what ever i want without locking
    me into their narrrow street. I absolutly hate it. Give me a program that sets me free with my
    iphone...........


  • -7 Hide
    wildwell , February 11, 2010 8:29 PM
    Wow, are Microsoft execs still kicking themselves over iTunes!?
  • 5 Hide
    rpg89 , February 11, 2010 8:39 PM
    wildwellWow, are Microsoft execs still kicking themselves over iTunes!?


    These are from 2003. They are being mentioned because they were recently dug up, as mentioned at the beginning of the article.
  • 21 Hide
    _Cubase_ , February 11, 2010 8:42 PM
    Jobs: "So record companies, got this idea called iTunes"
    Record companies: "Umm, I dunno, we've never really struck a deal like this before... not even with Bill gates."
    Jobs: "Oh, ok... just thought you guys were cool, that's all"
    Record companies: "No no, we're still cool!"
    Jobs: "Then bite my Apple! Bite it!"
  • -3 Hide
    SneakySnake , February 11, 2010 8:44 PM
    What are all the major bugs about itunes that people are talking about? I'm not saying they don't exist, I'm just curious to know what others have found. It runs just great on my PC, using about 100 MB's of RAM and 4% of my Q9450. I'm running W7 x64, and I've never come across any major issue
  • 1 Hide
    necronic , February 11, 2010 8:44 PM
    Pretty neat stuff. Anyone else notice that Bill Gates writes like a high school kid (or an internet forum poster)?
  • 2 Hide
    karenskym , February 11, 2010 8:59 PM
    necronicPretty neat stuff. Anyone else notice that Bill Gates writes like a high school kid (or an internet forum poster)?


    He never graduated from college, what do you expect?
  • 1 Hide
    doc70 , February 11, 2010 9:11 PM
    Curiously, I have never bought any music or anything else from iTunes; I guess the iTunes software was too much of a deterrent to me. I could always find the music I wanted on Amazon digital dowlnoad, and that was also at a time when Amazon kicked the loathed DRM that iTunes still embraced.
    Overall, I still believe that horrible piece of soft called iTunes was and still is the main reason for not being interested in getting my music through them.
  • 1 Hide
    doc70 , February 11, 2010 9:15 PM
    hakestermanI absolutly hate Itunes in it's entirety. I hate Apple for locking me into itunes for updatesand syncing my Iphone. I want a program that will let me do what ever i want without lockingme into their narrrow street. I absolutly hate it. Give me a program that sets me free with myiphone...........


    Have you stopped and considered getting a better phone? Maybe you are locked in a contract, but if not, there are MUCH better alternatives out there. Look up HTC or Samsung or Nokia, they all offer better, multitasking phones without a restrictive program to activate/upgrade them. As a bonus, you can get a smartphone package from the phone company that is cheaper that the equivalent pack for iPhone because they include MMS/messaging.
  • -1 Hide
    grieve , February 11, 2010 9:46 PM
    necronicPretty neat stuff. Anyone else notice that Bill Gates writes like a high school kid (or an internet forum poster)?


    Seriously, by the 3rd paragraph i was like WTF?

    One of the richest men on Earth but he can't write worth a sh*t!

    ***note***
    He can pay someone to write his thoughts for him :( 
  • 15 Hide
    chriskrum , February 11, 2010 10:18 PM
    Seriously, people are attacking the grammar in this?

    It's not an email for mass distribution; it's totally off the cuff and was clearly never reread or edited. It was sent on the fly to someone Gates was brainstorming with.

    I'm a writer. I take grammar seriously, I've even taught it, but a lot of the emails and chat exchanges I have with my writing partner are in an incoherent shorthand that makes this email look like literature.
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