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Microsoft Businesses Communications Security

What's In Steve Ballmer's Inbox? 93

Posted by timothy
from the a-lot-of-splinters dept.
Barence writes "When Microsoft last year launched Outlook.com, the company carelessly left the SteveBallmer@Outlook.com address vacant. It was snapped up by the editor of PC Pro, giving an insight into the type of emails the public sends to the Microsoft CEO. Among the messages sent to the account are complaints about the Windows 8 interface, a plea from someone who was 'literally driven crazy' by Windows Server product keys, and someone who wants Windows Phone's calendar to remind him when he's being paid. There's also a more sinister complaint from someone who claims they were the victim of racial discrimination when applying for a job at a Microsoft Store."
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What's In Steve Ballmer's Inbox?

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  • duh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 03, 2013 @09:53AM (#42461163)

    ikea adverts. He has to replace chairs.

  • Windoh's 8 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by davydagger (2566757)
    "Three out of the four genuine emails I’ve received for Mr Ballmer could be classified as complaints, or “constructive feedback” if you’re being generous. "

    Stick a fork in it, its done. The curse of the even number'ed windows version lives on.
    • I thought 98 and 2000 were decent OSes. 95, however, had some issues. Also, how do you determine if Vista, XP, Me, NT and CE are even or odd numbered? You can't go by the marketing name. And you can't go by the internal version number, as Vista and 7 are both version 6 (8 may be as well, I haven't looked).

      • by TWX (665546)
        Woosh! [wikipedia.org]
        • by Tridus (79566)

          Not really, because his whole point is that this odd/even version thing doesn't apply to Windows very well unless you use a lot of contortions to try and make it fit.

          There's good versions, and bad versions. They don't follow much of a pattern except that the good versions are usually refinements of a bad version rather than a major change.

          • There's good versions, and bad versions. They don't follow much of a pattern except that the good versions are usually refinements of a bad version rather than a major change.

            That leads to the good/bad pattern. 95 was bad, then 98 was a refinement which was good. ME was bad then XP was the refinement that was good. Vista was bad, then 7 was the refinement that was good. 8 is bad so maybe soon we'll get a refinement that is good.

            • Except that XP was a refinement of 2000, which was an iteration of NT (both of which were "good"). ME was a de-refinement of 98. And arguably...95 wasn't that bad. It was a pretty big departure from anything else, but was it really any worse than 3.1? Sure, 98 was way better, but so was everything else from that time...98 was a time of DVDs and USB and high speed internet proliferation. 95 was an OS for piles of systems with a CD-Rom, a maybe-56k modem, and a serial port.

              But yes, it still holds that

    • And every other version of Office, Visual Studio, and everything else they've ever released. We learned about the "Microsoft cycle" as a legitimate thing in college. They release something actually good, people buy it, and MS thinks they're invincible. Then they do something unpopular and experimental and think they can get away with it because their sales on the last version were unstoppable. Then it fails miserably, everyone gets fired, and they release something the customers actually want. I have a f
      • Actually, with Windows, both the even and the odd versions are bad. As are the non-numerical versions...
    • by loufoque (1400831)

      You seem to have problems with HTML entities.

  • So it's just like any other CEO's public inbox, then?
  • by Lieutenant_Dan (583843) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @10:04AM (#42461247) Homepage Journal

    I have a catch-all inbox that I use for various disposable e-mails. It's a popular domain.

    In a typical week I get:
    - 10+ people trying (and succeeding) creating FB accounts plus any updates and invites and comments and ...
    - ~5 e-mails from Gmail to activate an account
    - ~5 e-mails from Windows Live to activate an account
    - two library notifications about overdue books
    - a backup of the financial database from a company that has set the incorrect e-mail
    - Someone sending baby pictures of their newborn child to a co-worker to a similarly-named company
    - ~4 e-mails from patients for another similarly-named clinic
    - One or two e-mails from an insurance company with confidential data sent to the incorrect domain
    - LOTS of e-mails from people signing up on web sites that don't verify e-mails (horroscopes, matching sites, industrial newsletters, etc)

    Xmas was pretty busy with a lot of kids registering WIndows Live accounts for their XBOX.
    Out of courtesy I usually tell people that they have the wrong domain ...

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Some sites apparently don't know that email addresses at gmail strip dots before delivery. Some guy registered his Apple account with the dotless form of my address. Now it's my account. What's hilarious is that you can set an address as your primary without verifying it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The dots are part of the rfc, IIRC.

        Most mail systems (actually, I've only run into Exchange not conforming) allow you to receive some.body@domain.com (or s.o.m.e.body@domain.com), because the dots are not counted. You can also append a plus symbol and another string (again, not with Exchange) like som.ebody+paypal@domain.com and then perform filtering at the email reader.

        You can use these techniques to identify who sold your email address. joe+netflix@domain, joe+uhaul@domain...

        Works with gmail and other st

        • by stillnotelf (1476907) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @12:15PM (#42462865)
          I've found most of the places where I'd want to use stillnotelf+maybebadguy@gmail... don't usually accept the plus sign in the email address. I can't tell if they aren't standards-compliant because they're lazy and ignorant, or as a deliberate ploy to prevent filtering...
          • Nah. If it was a deliberate ploy they could just strip off the "+whatever" portion and send to your actual gmail account, thus defeating you in a (possibly untraceable, depending on their actions) way.
      • What's hilarious is that you can set an address as your primary without verifying it.

        I can confirm that Sony's PSN and Match.com both have the same problem. My gmail account is first-initial-last-name@gmail.com, and I have a fairly uncommon last name. That address was used to register for both; the first by somebody named Jared and the second by a mid-60's woman from North Carolina. In both cases, attempts to alert customer service just led to canned responses, though Match.com did at least give me an option to disable email communication. (Which was a Godsend after 3 days of e-flirting

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I had a catchall for a "two lettter" domain name (xy.com, for letters not x and y)
      that I got in 1993, and sold two years ago for the big bucks.

      The amount of junk mail I got was insane, roughly 100MB every two hours.
      (The time it took to fill it.) Lots and lots of junk mail. A surprising number of
      e-mails from corporate mailing lists (including internal e-mails from a major
      aerospace manufacturer). Lots and lots of 419 e-mails. Lots of e-mails
      concerning Michael Jackson (both before and after he died). A *lot* o

    • If you're using msmith@insert_your_domain.com, you're doing it wrong!

      • by omnichad (1198475)

        It seems you don't know what a catch-all inbox [yahoo.com] is.

        • msmith@insert_your_domain.com is a catch all! j/k

          In all seriousness, I don't use a catch-all. Because none of the messages bounce back as undeliverable, it just builds up a worthless legitimate list for spammers around the world. Unless things have changed and you can both receive via catch-all and forge a false undeliverable, I'd rather not pollute my domain.

          • by SgtAaron (181674)

            In all seriousness, I don't use a catch-all. Because none of the messages bounce back as undeliverable, it just builds up a worthless legitimate list for spammers around the world. Unless things have changed and you can both receive via catch-all and forge a false undeliverable, I'd rather not pollute my domain.

            I don't see that it matters. Spammers, in my experience, rarely send with a valid return address, even if it looks legit. Say, like, bounce-12345-user+domain.com@spammerdomain.com. And weeding their lists doesn't seem to be a priority. If I were to look in our mail logs right now, I'd no doubt see
            thousands of spam mails per day sent to addresses that haven't existed for YEARS. My own address was unused for more than 3 years, and after
            I activated it again (came back to work here, iow), I received new sp

            • Well yes. But once your on the shit list of many spammers, you don't get off them. So if spammers for the most part never receive NDRs, many will assume it's an active account and blow more crap your way. Filtering out this junk consumes both CPU cycles and more importantly bandwidth. If I'm going to host my own private (read small) email server, I'd rather not redirect my MX records to a 3rd party mail scrubber.

  • and inducing mammary hyperplasia should be the biggest items I'd imagine. And I'd like to believe Steve benefited from the latter category or emails...

  • Don't forget.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Striikerr (798526) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @10:10AM (#42461309)

    Lots of SPAM advertising Dancing Monkey Man brand Anti-Persperants (Zoo Strength). For those on the go who feel the need to jump around on stage like an angry gorilla but don't want to be embarrassed by sweat marks..

  • by axl917 (1542205) <axl@mail.plymouth.edu> on Thursday January 03, 2013 @10:21AM (#42461389)

    I once worked for a university IT department, where a lot of us still retained our old "not everyone needs e-mail" addresses well in to the late 90's, such as simple tom@school.edu, bob@school.edu, and so on. One day our rather red-faced director, "Steve", came out to us and said it may be time for everyone to adopt the current "jsmith" standard, and told how a young woman on campus had just sent a quite amorous e-mail to her boyfriend, also name of "Steve", but she only put his first name in the To: field.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      (In case you didn't realise, your email address is visible.)

      • by axl917 (1542205)

        I am well-aware my e-mail is visible, I have never been much into identity-shielding. A few of us reverted back to our old handles once that director left. :)

    • The policy in our university IT department was "login equals lastname" unless that one was already taken. (In that case, one or more letters of the firstname were prefixed.) Check and generation of accounts were performed by a home-brewn script. That script, however, did not check against system accounts. One day, a newly registered student, Miss Root, got a very special account ...
  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @10:24AM (#42461409)

    From: Jsvalbreijkaloua@ikea.com
    Subject: Holiday Sale - Select Chairs 75% Off

    From: amanda.good@monster.com
    Subject: Developers! Developers! Developers!

    From: rstallman@fsf.org
    Subject: RE: UEFI - See you in court.

    From: j.allen@rbc.com
    Subject: SCO still alive!?! Please wire more money!

    From: bgates@microsoft.com
    Subject: Dude, wtf windows 8? Investors want to know.

    From: Larry.Page@gmail.com
    Subject: Windows Phone LOLOLOL

    From: rvstrejklisauke@nokia.com
    Subject: RE:Meeting with Larry Page - not so good

  • Worked out for them (Score:5, Interesting)

    by T.E.D. (34228) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @10:24AM (#42461413)
    Just by getting their complaints published, emailing to the fake Ballmer was probably far more effective than emailing to the real one would have been.
    • by Keith111 (1862190)
      Particularily since only a moron would think SteveBallmer@outlook.com is his actual email address. It was left open because @outlook.com is a public email address, same as @hotmail.com. I'm sure whoever owns SteveBallmer@hotmail.com got the dumbest people around emailing them when hotmail came out too :P (this post is not the opinion of microsoft or steveballmer)
      • by mu51c10rd (187182)

        I'm sure whoever owns SteveBallmer@hotmail.com got the dumbest people around emailing them when hotmail came out too :P

        Actually, only smart people were on the internet in 1996...oh wait...AOL was much bigger back then.

      • Yeah, this e-mail sample represents only people who randomly send email to addresses they make up and hope for the best (and spend actual time doing so).

    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      After thinking about it, we should all try this. Everyone with a complaint about Microsoft, just go ahead and email it to "Fake Steve Ballmer" <SteveBallmer@Outlook.com> [mailto]

      My first complaint will be about the low-contrast microfiche-sized install keys they use on the Windows 8 install media...

  • is how the editor of PC Pro cant seem to get invited to anymore of these events.

  • People write THE HEAD HONCHO of a multinational corporation with their (in his eyes most certainly seen as) petty complaints about the OS his company makes? Do they REALLY think that he wastes a nanosecond reading them? That he himself does actually care what they think of his product?

    Is that the same kind of people who want to talk to "the manager", thinking that he gives half a shit about their ramblings?

    • by Nyder (754090)

      People write THE HEAD HONCHO of a multinational corporation with their (in his eyes most certainly seen as) petty complaints about the OS his company makes? Do they REALLY think that he wastes a nanosecond reading them? That he himself does actually care what they think of his product?

      Is that the same kind of people who want to talk to "the manager", thinking that he gives half a shit about their ramblings?

      I found via my life that people will complain about anything to someone that is in charge of whatever. They will bitch about everything. Most people seem to be whiny bitches that have to get their way with everything and don't care about others.

      Plus most the public is pretty stupid.

    • by GizmoToy (450886)

      While there may have been others before him, I suspect this is gaining in popularity because it's now pretty well-known that Steve Jobs routinely replied to emails sent to his Apple email address (either personally, our through their executive support team). Complaining to steve@apple.com got your problem at least looked at by someone with some authority. Tim Cook has continued this, though to a somewhat lesser extent.

      It's not terribly surprising that behavior is spilling over into other companies now.

    • by u38cg (607297)
      Complaining to a senior company executive can be a very effective tool. One, most people these days read their own email. Two, they have PAs who can do stuff. I've done it a couple of times when I've run out of other options, and saved a lot of bother.
  • Enlarge your penis!

  • "a great steaming load o' shite!"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I once had a problem with Cisco. I received a incomplete kit (Cisco ACE LB) from a which only ships from the USA. On the second try Cisco sent me another incomplete kit. Meanwhile this was dragging on for weeks and my local (Israel) distributor claimed he was helpless and it was in Cisco's hands.

    1) Call Cisco Israel - get automatically patched into the Cisco switchboard in Ireland and was told that they could only direct my call to a person not to the GM of Cisco Israel

    2) Google "Cisco Israel GM"

    3) Call a

    • This is a standard strategy, which I've seen referred to as "turboing", which is particularly effective when standard channels fail. The key point is that, really, you're not trying to speak to senior management, you're trying to speak to the PA of someone in senior management.

  • Didn't someone get done for some criminal charge about interception of mail intended for someone else not that long ago by registering names similar to those in a company to intercept misspelled mail addresses. Isn't what PC Pro is doing here, while amusing, the exact same crime? He has registered an address with the intention of intercepting mail incorrectly addressed to someone else?
    • by twokay (979515)
      I remember a story about a security company that did this for banks and fortune 500 companies, off the back of reports that "hackers" were using typos in email addresses to get all sorts of lovely information about the IT systems of these companies

      I don't remember whether it was criminalized, but it's certainly a good example of why you shouldn't be sending sensitive information in plain text emails...

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