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Gates video – Microsoft's ‘hit team’ to get IBM into line

But Codefather III says it wasn't a big deal, really...

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Back in 1994 Bill Gates asked his staff how come IBM was helping Lotus. Senior VP Joachim Kempin wrote back recommending that something called "a WW hit team" should be sent into IBM, "whereby the OEM relationship should be used to apply some pressure." Hit teams? Bill not knowing things? Yes, it's those pesky videos again. Today's 45 minute bulletin added the novel spice of Bill sending an email where he confessed he didn't know something. "This is one topic I really want to try to get to the bottom of. Why does IBM help Lotus so much? Is there anything we can do about this? Should it become an issue in our global relationship with IBM?" We'll help him out here. It's 1994, Microsoft has been at war with IBM for the past couple of years, and IBM figures that by helping Lotus it will counter Microsoft's influence. IBM probably also believes that Microsoft's alternatives to Notes aren't entirely battle-ready. Lotus believes it should leverage as much out of IBM as it possibly can, but sneakily carries on developing for Windows. Bill's puzzlement is remarkable, under the circumstances. But Kempin takes him at face value. You'll recall Kempin as the cute operative who was so keen on switching over to a rental/annuity system for Microsoft software sales (Microsoft's plan to levy annual rental fee for Windows). He mails Bill (along with today's president, Steve Ballmer) back, saying he'll do whatever it takes to kick Lotus out of IBM, but that "[I] strongly believe we need a WW hit team to attack IBM as a large account, whereby the OEM relationship should be used to apply some pressure." Bill's video comments (remember this is his video deposition) is a lot less interesting than the Kempin email itself. Gates says a WW hit team is a salesperson, and explains that Microsoft internally might refer to someone as a "WW hit team" if "they're world-wide and they're trying to sell to someone who is a large account." That's actually quite forthcoming for Bill, but analyse what Kempin said. He expressed his belief that Microsoft needed a hit team. We do not, naturally, believe that a team is one person. But if we need a hit team, that means first that there isn't one in this case, and second that such teams are commonly-employed by Microsoft. For what? Again, back to Kempin: "To attack IBM as a large account, whereby the OEM relationship should be used to apply some pressure." Some pressure for what? To kick Lotus out of IBM? A fair-minded observer might presume that Microsoft as a matter of course formed special-purpose teams whose brief was to leverage existing relationships with major OEM customers in order to achieve other (not necessarily related) Microsoft objectives. ® Complete Register trial coverage

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