Notes from the field: The sun is shining, birds are singing, so why is everyone in a bad mood?

Notes from the field: The sun is shining, birds are singing, so why is everyone in a bad mood?

The US heatwave seems to be bringing out the worst in people. Fits of pique seem to be all the rage in the industry at the moment. American Airlines, for example, is sulking with Microsoft, according to one of my sources.

Apparently the senior management at AA doesn't like the fact that Microsoft is trying to get into the online travel business - an industry AA apparently wants to get into itself - and has decreed that no one at AA can use any Microsoft tools to develop applications.

Who knows? Maybe Microsoft will soothe AA's hurt feelings by backing off. If the appointment of Steve Ballmer as president is anything to go by, we are about to see a kinder, gentler Microsoft anyway: now that Ballmer will be busy doing all things presidential, Bob Herbold will become the point guy for Microsoft's dealings with the government and the Department of Justice. So expect less bricks and more bouquets to fly from Redmond to the Capitol.

Behind the scenes . . .

Microsoft's new, serene facade could prove to be just that, however - a facade.

Take the core team of Java badmouthers who helped Microsoft do such a bad job of stating its Java case last year.

Not only is the group no longer on campus, but they are disappearing in a manner reminiscent of Agatha Christie's novel And Then There Were None: Cornelius Willis left in March to help form a start-up, Proscenium; Tom Johnston left the company earlier this year; developer relations general manager Tod Nielsen is on sabbatical; and outspoken Charles Fitzgerald is on an "extended vacation".

Of course, this could all be coincidence, and Microsoft insists that Nielsen and Fitzgerald will return - but then they've said that about Brad Silverberg, who is still on "sabbatical", too.

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