Sending a message

The pretrial proceedings of US vs Microsoft have yielded a tantalising bit of corporate intrigue: e-mail snippets from Microsoft and Netscape Communications that have been released by both parties in the case.

The documents show executives conspiring to annihilate one another with all the vindictive glee of 10-year-olds in a school yard. This corporate voyeurism has been fascinating, but it should send a chill down your spine if you are responsible for administering e-mail.

You may want to route copies of these messages to users with a Post-it note asking, "Could this be you some day?''E-mail has become part of the fabric of many corporations. At companies such as Microsoft and Netscape, it's an essential part of the culture. But as users get comfortable with zapping gossip, competitive intelligence and dirty jokes among their computers, it's easy to forget the unique power of the medium.

Messages sent on e-mail don't evaporate like chit-chat in the cafeteria. E-mail is a traceable, searchable, archival, self-documenting medium for exchanging documents. As the Microsoft discovery process shows, the e-mail note you send today may turn up in a personnel file or court proceeding some day.

A couple of years ago, I adopted a philosophy of assuming that every e-mail I send outside the company could eventually wind up in print, in a newsgroup or on somebody's Web site. The practice has served me well - especially when some of the more vitriolic e-mail I get entices me to respond in kind.

But I wish I could say the same for my electronic musings within the walls of the company. Unfortunately, I am as guilty as anyone of letting rumour, anger and sarcasm occasionally creep into messages to my colleagues. The Microsoft case has given me pause to reconsider. You might reconsider, too.

If the judge in the antitrust case allows e-mail to become an essential part of the proceedings - and that's still a big if - it should spur every corporate e-mail administrator to revisit company policies. The department drink machine is going electronic, and with that comes a host of accountability issues.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul Gillin

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?