The Lite Side

Microsoft's "Tsunami" Memo: The Real Text

- 2002.01.21

The Lite Site has obtained the full text of the Microsoft "Tsunami" memo, in which the Software Architect describes the new strategy his company must follow in the future.

Dear Microsoft Partners and Employees,

I am writing to tell you about a some new initiatives here at Microsoft, one of which I call "Trustworthy Computing." We have a responsibility and a duty to meet the needs of our customers. As you know, we've suffered several embarrassing lapses in recent months, particularly after the rollout of Windows XP. This new initiative, which seeks to make our products secure and safe to use, will hereby become a greater priority than anything else we do - including adding new features or acquiring new products.

When we face a choice between adding features and resolving security issues, we need to choose security. Our products should emphasize security right out of the box. This initiative is more important than any other part of our work. If we don't do this, people simply won't be willing - or able - to take advantage of all the other great work we do. The events of this past year reminded every one of us how important it is to ensure the integrity and security of our critical infrastructure, whether it's the airlines or computer systems.

Users should be in control of how their data is used. It should be easy for users to specify appropriate use of their information including controlling the use of email they send.

The second new initiative I'd like to discuss is called "Homegrown Computing." What we'd like to see here is a real emphasis on developing software internally. In the past, you've been asked to pitch new software just like Hollywood pitches a new movie. Phrases like, "It's just like iMovie, only for Windows," "It's just like QuickTime with Attention Deficit Disorder," "It's like Netscape on steroids," and "They have a mouse, too, but ours has more buttons," must no longer be used in product proposals. I am expecting an entire paragraph on the unique features of each product proposed.

The third major initiative is called "Competitive Computing." In the past, we've attempted to assist many smaller, independent companies by providing funding, accounting services, leadership, shipping and receiving, and office facilities in exchange for their undivided attention. In the future, instead of these cooperative arrangements with many of our smaller brethren, the difficult financial situation we face today forces us to simply eliminate such companies from the marketplace by direct competition. We will continue our practice of absorbing nascent market share in emerging markets by integrating new concepts into our operating systems - only after such features have been fully security tested, of course. In the meantime we will agressively compete using the products we have in hand. Much like the scientific community at the end of the 19th century, we find ourselves in a quandry because everything has already been invented.

Finally, we've done an internal study on the costs of the .Net project and have decided that the accounting costs associated with repeated charges for upgrades and reactivations will not cover our expenses for accountants, and so I've decided we should also being a new push for "Low-Maintenance Cost Accounting Computing," where customers - now get this, this is really good - pay for software once. Just once. That's a new concept for us, and it'll take some getting used to. But I am sure the employees of Microsoft are up to the challenge.

Next week, senior account managers will meet with Mr. Ballmer in the theatre for more details about each of these initiatives. He promises the presentation will be "invigorating and active."

Finally, there is no truth to the scurrilous rumor that the plant in my office is an alien clone-making pod. It is merely a large South American plant someone I used to work with decided I would like to have. You can some see for yourself, any time. Just make sure you come in one at a time, as the plant doesn't like crowds.

Your friend,
William Gates

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