I am getting extremely sick of the patent awe in recent videos (esp. since Rory came along).
This memo shows the real purpose behind all of those patent cubes vis a vis the technical merits of the "inventor."
I think someone has patent envy.
Interesting, but I think you missed the mark a _little_ bit. The problem with patents lies on the industry as a whole. Software patents SUCK. Algorithms should NOT be able to be patended (in my opinion). Donald Knuth (yes, that Knuth) had an excellent post on this topic recently.
The problem isn't with Microsoft, it's with the patent system as a whole. We are forced to get patents to defend our IP because that's the way the industry works. It's legal, it's messy, and it sucks.
Now, that memo from Bill is another story altogether (not really having to do with Patents I believe). I think it is an excellent example of some of the "bad things" that Microsoft has done in the past (note, the email is from 1999). I would like to say that it was the "Old Microsoft" but I simply don't have enough visibility at that high level to know whether that's the case or not (and I would rather not say we've changed and ultimately proved ignorant in the future).
I sincerely think that Ray Ozzie was a GREAT hire. With what I've heard from him lately, I think he has good ideas about where Microsoft needs to go. And we need to get a lot more agile going there. The times are changing, and we need to adjust.