This is sort of like complaining that Safeway can't make ice cream as well as Ben and Jerry's.
"What do you say we go get some sewer coffee, sewer cake, and Safeway Ice Cream?" - Futurama
I've no idea what Microsoft was like at the time, so maybe they did have such a thing, but if there was, I can't imagine it had much priority in the corporate culture.
And in fact, Safeway doesn't make ice cream as well as Ben and Jerry's. It's ice cream, not apples and oranges.
Apple is in a few markets where they serve a large majority of the market (music players being the obvious). There is probably room for Apple to improve on those products, but I suspect most rational people would not claim Apples products in those markets are as poorly made as most of Microsofts products. Effectively, it is not the unfair comparison you claim.
The distribution methods and relationships with customers differ a great deal, but both companies develop software, some of it very similar in purpose, and both also sell hardware. The problems outlined in the email were not related to problems integrating with others' hardware, so lack of ability to integrate with that isn't an excuse (this time).
I think it is the ice cream comparison that's the unfair one. Software sold in volume is a high margin business. With 80% market share there is neither the justification nor the excuse for the sort of blunders outlined in the email. Unlike ice cream, there are no physical ingredients to cut corners with. It's doubtful that things that compromised quality saved them any money at all. What resource did they lack?
It's not as if they were a hardware business operating on razor-thin margins to get market share and cutting corners to break even. They've got revenue, they've got cash, they've got many talented engineers. They spent about 9 times as much as Apple on R&D in 2007, about 7 times as much in 2009. Considering how often Apple has major OS updates, and introducing new/updated hardware designs, it seems like MS isn't producing as much fruit for the R&D money. Did I miss something?
R&D From the 10K filings with SEC
Microsoft USD 9 billion in 2009
Apple USD 1.3 billion in 2009
I suppose this is why many people prefer Ben and Jerry's ice cream to Safeway.