Microsoft, Sidekick, and other high-tech disasters

By Robert X. Cringely, InfoWorld |  Personal Tech, data loss, Microsoft

The Sidekick soap opera continues today, with the report that maybe Microsoft didn't lose all of the Sidekick subscribers' personal data after all. That's good news, naturally. But we're still waiting to hear the official account of what exactly went wrong at Danger Inc.

[ Also on InfoWorld: "2009: The year your data died" | Stay up to date on Robert X. Cringely's musings and observations with InfoWorld's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]

Meanwhile, I received an interesting note from a Cringester who identifies himself as an ex-Danger employee. He has the following to report (cleaned up slightly to fix typos):

I recall only too clearly the Monday morning arriving to find, 'Congratulations!, you've just been bought by M$' on the front door. As a long time Linux engineer, I knew what was coming. Still I listened politely to the cooing of, 'we bought you to learn how you do it; you are the experts, we are here to learn from you' and a mere 6 months later, the chant became, 'well, the way WE Do it is, ...'. Yeah, I got it...

Danger grew up for its 7 or so years from a startup to making a living on their own products' income and I, like many, were proud to be contributors to Danger. When I was there, the service organization that provided the back-end service was among the highest priorities in the company, a sacrosanct part that held their responsibility in a cherished embrace.

Sadly, the marauding M$ project managers soon combed though the Danger ranks, taking more and more staff for their dubious development and depleting key Danger activities.

(I've asked Microsoft for comment; I'll update this post if and when it responds.)

In other words, the culprit was not sabotage, as was widely speculated, but the usual Microsoft chuckle-headedness. The good folks in Redmond may, of course, have a different explanation.

[UPDATE: Microsoft did ultimately get back to me, via one of its not-to-be-named spokesminions. Their reaction? "No comment." Gee, that was illuminating. Thanks guys.]

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