In-Depth

Top 6 Microsoft 'Mulligans': A Do-Over Wish List for Redmond

In golf terms, a mulligan is a "do-over." Hit your tee shot in the lake? Take a mulligan and pretend it never happened. Here's what we think Microsoft would love to take a mulligan on.

1. Internet Explorer 5/Windows 95 This was a marriage made in Hades. Microsoft tied Internet Explorer 5 to Windows 95 so tightly that the U.S. Department of Justice sued Microsoft for anti-competitive practices. The idea behind the integration of OS and browser, in the infamous words of former Microsoft exec Paul Maritz (now CEO of VMware Inc.), was to "cut off Netscape's air supply." Netscape, of course, was the dominant browser of the day.

The government won the monopoly case, and originally but unsuccessfully ordered Microsoft to split into two separate companies.

2. Clippy Clippy was an "assistant" introduced in Microsoft Office 97 to help you do things you're not capable of without its help -- you know, things like write a memo. One of Microsoft's most-mocked products ever, Clippy actually managed to hang around for a decade before the company put out a mob hit on it.

3. Windows Vista The first attempt to replace Windows XP, this is the OS that dare not speak its name at Microsoft HQ. Released in late 2006 to businesses, Vista required upgraded hardware to run, and its initial backward-compatibility was pitiful.

4. Kin Oh Kin, we hardly knew ye. Aimed at the 15-to-30-year-old social networking crowd, the Kin was released and then killed in record time. The big problem is that the Kin didn't allow apps or games, so it wasn't really a smartphone. But it did require a monthly data plan fee like a smartphone.

5. Bob See "Clippy," No. 2. Bob, a doofus "happy face" wearing specs, was another attempt to make computers user-friendly. Instead, it annoyed and angered those users. CEO Steve Ballmer summed up the tale of this turkey in an interview: "There's nothing that we've undertaken -- with a couple of exceptions like Microsoft Bob that I'll cop to in advance -- where we've decided that we have not succeeded and let's stop ..."

6. Windows Millenium Edition (ME) Sort of like Vista, if Vista never actually worked properly. ME, eventually dubbed "Mistake Edition," was probably the worst product Microsoft ever shipped. A successor to Windows 98, it was so buggy and crash-prone that many users never got it to work right, period. Whoever signed off on this monstrosity must have been drunk.

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