Microsoft “Convert” Nailed by Outlook 2002


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The _AuthorEmailDisplayName field was the undoing of Microsoft’s planted “Mac to PC Convert” lady, Valerie Mallinson. Now we know how it got there.

You eagle-eyed Office Watch devotees no doubt recognized one of the File | Properties entries mentioned in the preceding article.

_AuthorEmailDisplayName was the undoing of Microsoft’s planted “Mac to PC Convert” lady, Valerie Mallinson. Ted Bridis at Associated Press undoubtedly discovered her name in that File | Properties entry – and now I know how it got there.

My guess is that Valerie was using Outlook 2002, and she had no idea that she was sending a document with her name buried in the File | Properties details. You can bet that the poor Microsoft employee who saved the file didn’t know about this, uh, feature, either.

As far as I can tell, the only way you can keep a document from being “tagged” with your personal information is to make the change to Outlook noted above, or to tell Word to delete all the personal information in a document when it’s saved (Tools | Options | Security | check the box marked “Remove personal information from this file on save”).

Oh, the irony! Microsoft got nailed by its own stupid, hidden, privacy-violating feature.

Two weeks ago the Sydney Morning Herald quoted SteveB as saying: “I got a piece of mail that was vague that the assertion is some marketing person did something that was not entirely straightforward. If that’s right, I will certainly castigate the offender.” The Herald goes on to say, “Although not referring specifically to the Mallinson case, he [SteveB] added it may be necessary to “weed out” employees who did not live up to Microsoft’s code of behaviour.”

Well, Steve, now you know whom to weed. Start with the people who have the gall to think of this kind of brain-dead, hidden automatic invasion of privacy as a feature.

Trustworthy computing. Ha!

Also interesting that Microsoft now has a ‘code of behaviour’? It would be fascinating to see this code and apply it to the activities of Microsoft staff at all levels.

I pity Ms Mallinson, it looks like she’ll be made the scapegoat for that embarrassing little affair. As if she was the only one involved in the ‘promotion’. Microsoft PR staff don’t even cough in public without lots of meetings, planning and approval. Lying (either knowingly or not) is part and parcel of the PR trade.

The ‘switch’ promotion didn’t happen because of one person, it was planned and approved at many levels. Ms Mallinson (whom Peter and I have never met to our knowledge) has really broken the unwritten ‘code’ at Microsoft – she was caught with her name on the evidence. It’s a pity she’s been singled out for attention.

 

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