Do you remember how frustrating trying to find anything on Microsoft.com was in the early 2000s? Bill Gates felt the same way, and let his staff know it.

An email written by Gates in 2003 surfaced on Reddit today, and it’s quite the read. In it Gates tries to download and install Microsoft Moviemaker, and it doesn’t go well. Here’s an excerpt:

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.

The first 5 times I used the site it timed out while trying to bring up the download page. Then after an 8 second delay I got it to come up.

This site is so slow it is unusable.

It wasn’t in the top 5 so I expanded the other 45. These 45 names are totally confusing. These names make stuff like: C:Documents and SettingsbillgMy DocumentsMy Pictures seem clear.

I remember doing this. It was awful. Gates’ email keeps going, and you should really read it. Eventually there’s this conclusion:

The lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences blows my mind. I thought we had reached a low with Windows Network places or the messages I get when I try to use 802.11. (don’t you just love that root certificate message?)

When I really get to use the stuff I am sure I will have more feedback.

Getting an email like that from your boss can’t be fun, but man did the team deserve it at that point. I wonder what kinds of things are triggering similar rants at Microsoft in 2018.

Justin Pot Justin Pot
Justin Pot has been writing about technology for over a decade, with work appearing in Digital Trends, The Next Web, Lifehacker, MakeUseOf, and the Zapier Blog. He also runs the Hillsboro Signal, a volunteer-driven local news outlet he founded.
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