February 2008: Microsoft aquires Danger Inc, makers of the T-Mobile Sidekick phone. The phone is based on a NetBSD kernel with Java VM and APIs.
May 2009: Microsoft lays off most of the ex-Danger employees.
October 2009: Leaks indicate that the Danger OS is dying, with the Danger-based Project Pink phone to be replaced by Windows Mobile (of course), with some ideas from the Sidekick reimplemented and grafted on. Again we hear that most of the ex-Danger employees have been fired or have resigned.
Later in October 2009: A server crash at Microsoft wipes out the entire database of user data for T-Mobile Sidekick devices. It is rumored that a SAN upgrade was outsourced to a contractor, who decided to cut costs by not bothering with a backup, and then screwed up and lost all the data. Since all Sidekick user data is stored at the data center and there’s no way to back it up to your PC or SIM card, T-Mobile advises customers that if their Sidekick crashes or powers down for any reason, they will lose all their data.
I always thought the Sidekick looked like a great device, but the fact that the data was stored on someone else’s server with no way for me to back it up made me steer well clear — and that was even before it was bought by Microsoft.
So once again, Microsoft buys a piece of technology in order to kill it. They acquire a company, take its IP, get rid of all the employees, and spit out a worthless husk.
Update 2009-10-15: Microsoft are now confident that they’ll be able to recover the data eventually.