Leaked Microsoft mails provide interesting insights

[German]I wrestled with myself a bit about what to do with the material, but then decided to publish the blog post after all. An anonymous source has send me leaked data that must have come from the "Microsoft universe" (maybe have been pulled as part of the Bing BigBang incident). Snippets of communications from Microsoft's mangement provide interesting insights into how Nadella and Co. conduct themselves publicly and how they act internally.


Vulkan papers and BigBang incident

We just got our hands on the Vulcan Papers, a blueprint of Russian intelligence that outlines how the Kremlin wants to spy on Western companies and organizations. And I had reported this week about a big dog in Microsoft's Azure cloud in connection with Bing and Office 365 (see BigBang: Microsoft Azure vulnerability allows Bing search hijacking and Office 365 data theft). Called BigBang by security researchers, the configuration flaw allowed them to leverage user tokens used for bing.com search queries to also access those users' documents from Microsoft Office 365. OneDrive content, mails and so on were open to unauthorized persons with this incident.

Microsoft Leaks?

The evaluation of the leaked data is somewhat difficult, because there is no structure of the individual documents and communication threads are probably not complete. In addition, the whole thing is in English with some slang and occasional abbreviations, so that it is somewhat laborious to grasp the meaning of some words and statements (I often have to use search engines to find out what is probably being implied by one term or another).

But I have the feeling that I did get behind some interesting facts and cracked certain codes of the executives around Mr. Nadella. Some of the documents I've seen revolve around questions about how Microsoft communicates to the public, what its strategies are, and where it wants to go with its development in the future. And it's about questions about what internal information should never be leaked to the public.

Chat GPT and Cloud

Much of the information is already known from Microsoft and other sources. It has been clear for a long time that Mr. Nadella has instructed his folks to get the ChatGPT train on track and to steam towards to the cloud. It is an open secret that they want to roll up the market with Azure and the services built around it as well as upgrade Microsoft products with artificial intelligence. Observers also see that Microsoft 365 with bundling of Office, Teams, etc. is supposed to "kick out everything that is on the market" in terms of competition. Weave Edge into Windows in a way, so that nothing works without this browser, the competitors are kicked out of the boat in the area of virus protection with the Defender, the complete communication of the companies is handled via Teams and Office is anchored as an "industry standard" – everything is well known. The fact that Microsoft Products are only available via subscription is a nice side effect. The strategies can somehow be read out in internal communication, even if abbreviations and pseudonyms are often used, because Microsoft has to archive the communication so that authorities can evaluate it in case of an incident.

Regarding the statement "Cloud is nothing more than someone else's computer", an eployee asked in an internal document the question "Why don't we get the biggest piece of the pie? Why should users buy computers whose hardware we hardly earn any money on? Let's order computers cheaply from the China guy, put them in data centers and then sell them with our software as a complete package as an expensive subscription?" Of course, this is not expressed directly, but the person in question is thinking aloud "I could buy a computer from the China store around the corner, equip it with Microsoft software and rent it out to my neighbor at a very lucrative rate – he'll be happy about such an offer. That would be a cool business model, by the way, what's the current status of our cloud plans?".


Nervous about the competition authorities

However, Microsoft management seems to be getting a little worried that the competition authorities or other government agencies are taking a closer look. Especially since the marketing in the U.S. and other countries has gone a bit overboard. The constant attempts to get Edge onto Windows systems instead of Google, advertising for Microsoft products in the Windows Start menu, all this makes some heads in management a bit nervous – at least that's what I read between the lines of some of the emails that were exchanged.

Open wounds: The own products

I'm not through with sifting by a long shot, but some bizarre bits of information have already come to my attention. It was known from Vice President Joe Belfiore, who is no longer employed at Microsoft (see Joe Belfiore leaves Microsoft for "retirement"), that he did not use a Windows Phone during his sabbatical in 2016, but an iPhone from Apple. Other Microsoft ex-managers also turned away from Microsoft's products after the exit and turned to Macs or Linux or criticized the development of Windows 10 and its successor as horrible.

But it gets really bizarre when you look at the mail headers of semi-private messages from Microsoft's boss Satya Nadella and realize that they must have come from a Mac. I knew from this video that Mr. Nadella is a fan of the iPhone. Bill Gates said in a flippantly worded reply "hey Satya, tell me, why don't you compose the mails on the Surface tablet that the company provides for you". The answer was "I'll do it, when our developers finally get the handover between Windows and my iPhone right, I can try again." This is probably an open wound at Microsoft, that Apple allows its users to start a mail or other activity on the iPhone or iPad, to switch to another Apple device like the Mac during that work, and seamlessly continue working there to finish the document. Referred to as Handover.

Microsoft tries this again and again – for example, somehow with Samsung smartphones. Bill Gates is also known to use a Samsung Galaxy Fold 4. It also sounded in Mr. Nadella's answer that he is slightly annoyed (I hope I translated that correctly), because he wrote: "Bill, hand on heart, the GUI of Windows 11, which the guys and gals are doing, as well as the constant improvements to Office and Outlook are a disaster. Last week we lost tens of mails due to crashes and bugs, we have to do better, no one can seriously work with that. My wife is also constantly pulling my hair, to buy a second Mac for her. "

"Mobile first" is dead

I was also surprised when I found a note in the internal documents to please delete the "mobile first" in future communication with the outside world. Was the point if I considered whether someone fed me fake texts from ChatGPT as a joke. But a query of Google brought the Austrian news paper article Microsoft streicht "Mobile First" aus seiner Vision from its 2017 so my vision – must have missed that.

My future ist fantastic

I'll have to see if I can't get the documents into a searchable form. I would be very interested to see if there are any internals regarding Google Chromebooks and Chrome OS. This is also an open wound for Microsoft, since they can't get anything done in this regard. This week's rumors about the Core PC indicate that (see my post Windows 12? New plans for a Core OS). At the moment I (like Seymour Hersh) have the impression, that my future as a blogger is golden. I continiously stumled uppon "explosive topics", I just have to recognize them and compile as a story for my blogs.

Satya Nadella, I could kiss your feet with gratitude every day – happy "April Fools Day" …

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