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Microsoft's Reaction to OSS Adoption 790

inode_buddha writes "Eric S. Raymond has the eighth "Halloween" memo available here. It looks like Microsoft is really beginning to notice the national and corporate movement towards FS/OSS, and is reacting accordingly."
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Microsoft's Reaction to OSS Adoption

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  • by pgpckt ( 312866 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:32PM (#5008291) Homepage Journal
    In a recent ZDNet article, ZDNet write/predicts [] that Linux will this year or perhaps next overtake Apple's OS to become the second most common desktop OS. Microsoft simply seems to be reponding to this increasing pressure, which as the ZDNet article point out, is coming as more government's switch over to Linux.
    • I wonder who's distro is going to be the most installed? Many distros are so diverse as to be effectivly a different OS. At least that is how many clueless users may see them as. Linux is Linux but Red Hat anit SuSE.

      • Diversity is good. More colors, the merrier.

        If someone calls it Linux, it all pretty much the same glibc, filesystem, X, network, and system calls. Every distribution has systemwide configuration differences, but the libraries are called and stored the same way.
  • Is it just me... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by awx ( 169546 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:32PM (#5008292)
    ...or would everyone have preferred a version without ESR's comments and opinion, so that we could form our own?
    • Yes. Some of his comments are just childish. "We'll start by learning how to type the word "become" correctly. We promise." I mean, come on. Everyone makes mistakes.
    • by gazbo ( 517111 )
      Well, naturally he is welcome to put his own blabberings in, but it would have been more tolerable had he not felt the need to comment on fucking everything. When a perfectly reasonable and otherwise uninteresting bullet point is presented, there is no need for Eric "please believe I'm important" Raymond to try and debunk it for the sake of completeness.

      I'm going to have to stop writing now before I smash my keyboard with rage at how much I hate ESR.

    • Re:Is it just me... (Score:5, Informative)

      by br0ck ( 237309 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:49PM (#5008476)
      We've discussed this one before. He's not just doing it to be cute, he's trying to avoid--perhaps ineffectively since this is a modified copy not a derivitive work--copyright violation. From the FAQ [].

      Would you please make un-annotated versions available?

      No. As it is, my defense against a copyright-violation suit by Microsoft would have to make rather creative use of the exemptions in copyright case law relating to journalism, satire and commentary. I fear that making un-annotated copies available would place me at significant legal risk.
      • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 )
        We've discussed this one before. He's not just doing it to be cute, he's trying to avoid--perhaps ineffectively since this is a modified copy not a derivitive work--copyright violation.

        This makes no sense at all. The annotation is not going to stop Microsoft filing a suit, it might provide a defense but it certainly isn't going get the case thrown out.

        Microsoft is not going to file a case like that for damages, if they did file the case it would be to shut the squirt up. The fact they have choosen not to do this indicates that either they don't care or they realise that that type of tactic is likely to give more to feed ESR's ego.

        What it comes down to is that the comments are just another way that ESR uses the documents to feed his ego.

      • by mce ( 509 )
        That may be a valid reason, but if he cannot come up with better annotations that what he used this time, I move that the underlying memo was not worth the trouble.

        Sometimes I get the impression that ESR has painted himself into a corner with these Halloween documents. The first two were absolutely worthwhile, but as time goes on he seems to feel obliged to produce follow-ups at almost regular intervals (advance notice for the trolls: please don't take that literally), whether or not he's got something substantial to comment about. All in all, I think he is doing both himself and a lot of others a considerable disservice with that. When promoting Linux at work, for instance, I do not want to be confronted with "Look at how childish these Linux zealots are. How can we ever entrust our valuable data to software produced by such people." argumuents. Yes such arguments are silly. Yes, they can be debunked. But every minute doing the latter is a minute not spent on promoting Linux.
    • Agreed. Reading that gave me a worse perception of ESR than it did of Microsoft.
    • Re:Is it just me... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by deego ( 587575 )
      > ...or would everyone have preferred a version without ESR's comments and opinion, so that we could form our own?

      I think ESR has explained several times that he has to do that to prevent being sued by MS for leaking an "unedited" document (whatver the legal reasons are, i am not too aware). People just don't get it.

      Be thankful he not only gets the document, but also has the courage to post the document. For comparison, why don't you Try having the courage to get a document from M$ and post it on the internet and risk many years of imprisonment and many more years of not touching a computer, and then blame ESR.
  • Mindshare (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nege ( 263655 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:33PM (#5008301) Journal
    Looks to me like this has a lot to do with perception. PArt of MS' deal is that they have lots of mindshare. If the people realize that they HAVE options in terms of office and OS, then they certainly will at least explore those options. MS needs to keep people thinking that MS is the only way to get something done, so this memo is no surprise IMHO. Interesting though anyway.
  • Well (Score:3, Funny)

    by Jonny Ringo ( 444580 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:34PM (#5008315)
    That's what they get for living like assholes. Bill Gates has 7 kitchens and around 70 bathrooms! Shit, If I was a billionare I wouldn't even have 1 bathroom. I'd just be like "clean me up, come on 1,000 bucks to the first person to wipe my ass.
    • Re:Well (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:40PM (#5008382)
      but instead you'll keep working at McDonalds saving up your money to buy that perfect aluminum spoiler for your '87 civic.
    • Re:Well (Score:3, Funny)

      by sharkey ( 16670 )
      I'd just be like "clean me up, come on 1,000 bucks to the first person to wipe my ass.

      MS Depends: "You look like you just shit your pants. Would you like some help arraigning for a Smithers to clean you up?"
  • Mirror here (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:35PM (#5008321) Homepage Journal

    January 2, 2003
    From: William Gates III
    To: All Employees

    The sky is falling!

    Thank you,

    - Bill
  • Irritating (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Reality Master 101 ( 179095 ) <RealityMaster101 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:35PM (#5008322) Homepage Journal

    The memo is mildly interesting, but ESR is growing more shrill and childish with each passing year. GOOD LORD a company is exploring how to compete with other products?? ALERT THE PRESS.

    Sheesh, maybe Microsoft is good for some things, and OSS is good for other things. And to talk like Microsoft is going to "lose" with $40 billion dollars in the bank is ludicrous at best.

    Fah, ESR is not as annoying as RMS (that is, of course, impossible), but he seems to be heading down the path.

    • Re:Irritating (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Omnifarious ( 11933 )

      If they don't change something, they will lose, no matter how much money they have in the bank.

    • Re:Irritating (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bgfay ( 5362 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @04:06PM (#5008675) Homepage
      I agree that ESR sounds here like an idiot. I remember that, some time ago, during a windows refund day he dressed up as Obi Wan. What's up with that? He seems to want both to be _the_ spokesperson for Linux and a geeky idiot at the same time. The two things don't match.

      For many years, when I wasn't running Linux, I hated Microsoft, Bill Gates and the lot of them. Then I got Linux running and realized that it's much more fun for me. So now I don't boot Windows very often. All my emnity toward MS was just a waste of time, it was childish, and it did no one any good. Does MS make software that I like to use? No, not often. Are they evil? Well, probably not.

      Back to ESR. "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" whether you agree with it or not was a good piece of writing. It was well crafted and I enjoy reading it. The commentary along with this memo is ridiculously bad writing. Embarassing stuff. Were I a developer of Linux, I would be pissed that this guy was speaking for me. As a mere user, I'm embarrassed that he thinks this is helpful.

      Raymond ought to pull this version down, put up the memo and leave his commentary at the end or on an optional page. His argument would be made for him and he'd look the part of an intelligent man.
    • Re:Irritating (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @04:09PM (#5008699) Homepage
      GOOD LORD a company is exploring how to compete with other products?? ALERT THE PRESS.

      Microsoft is doing more than exploring how to compete. Microsoft does not compete. They destroy competition. They only explore how to destroy a competitor. Read one of the earlier documents Haloween III [] where ESR says...

      Yes, and it's routine and appropriate for vendors to discuss the measures they'll take against the competition. What is not quite so routine is to see the discussion imply a cold-blooded acceptance of methods including FUD tactics and dirty tricks such as ``de-commoditizing'' open standards into monopolistic lock-in devices.

      Did you follow the day-by-day testimony of the Microsoft antitrust trial? (I did.) Did you see the e-mail and other documents introduced as evidence? Discussion of how to cut off Netscape's air supply. Etc. This company does not compete. It is not merely enough for them to succeed. Everyone else MUST fail! This is a company where no low is too low. Have you somehow missed all of the things Microsoft has done? This is a company that will steal other's code (Stac Electronics). They will lie before a federal judge and show doctored videotapes as evidence. The list is long.

      A company that studies competing products in order to compete has in mind to better their own products where they might be weak against competition in order to compete more effectively. Nowhere in the Haloween documents do you see any notion of competition. Its all about how to destroy competitors, prevent their entry into the market, make sure that major accounts don't get a chance to give open source a fair hearing.

      And to talk like Microsoft is going to "lose" with $40 billion dollars in the bank is ludicrous at best.

      Microsoft as a whole is not going anywhere anytime soon, and is not going away ever.
      BR But who would have thought back in 1981 that IBM would loose control of the personal computer industry in so short a time? IBM, the big, entrenched monopolist, who controlled the industry with an iron grip, just as Microsoft does today. Things change. If Microsoft is so secure, then why do they seem to so urgently need to respond to open source in the Haloween memos? If they are so truly interested in competition, they why don't they continue to better their products and leave open source alone?
      • Re:Irritating (Score:3, Insightful)

        by InnovATIONS ( 588225 )
        If you have ever worked in a corporate sales environment none of these memos seems particularly unusual or alarming. This is standard competitive practice in sales and marketing. They tend to use dramatic language and analogies because that is the business that they are in.

        In the commentaries not only does he show him self to be shrill but also not understanding of the environment of corporate competitive marketing and public relations.

        The memo just says that they have to act calmly, coherently, and proactively when major announcements of OSS products occur. So? You expect them to act like a bunch of uncoordinated volunteers because that would be fairer?

      • Re:Irritating (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Reality Master 101 ( 179095 ) <RealityMaster101 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday January 03, 2003 @04:38PM (#5008949) Homepage Journal

        Discussion of how to cut off Netscape's air supply.

        The other replier said this as well, but sheesh how naive are you? This is the language of marketing people.

        I'm not going to particularly defend Microsoft in all aspects, but...

        It is not merely enough for them to succeed. Everyone else MUST fail!

        Big freaking deal. Guess what? I want my competitors to fail also!! OH MY GOD I am such a horrible person for wanting my products to be bought over my competitor's! Maybe I should just try and not get too many customers. I don't want to be mean to my competitors.

        And what makes this all the more laughable is when you look at many Linux advocates. They are more blood thirsty than any Microsoft exec. It's not enough for Linux to succeed, they need Microsoft's charter to be revoked.

  • they'll catch on (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sstory ( 538486 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:35PM (#5008323) Homepage
    Look for the Halloween 9 memo to have lots of phrases like "Hey Steve, make sure you study this thing carefully--we still don't have an answer as to why companies would use provably inferior and expensive linux technology instead of our cheaper, more American solution. Especially when you consider that linux makes your computer vulnerable to every hacker in the world, and sends all your emails to your boss."

    I mean, at some point, these 'leaks' are going to become a marketing tool. This Is Microsoft, you know.

  • Microsoft (Score:3, Insightful)

    by reyalsnogard ( 595701 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:35PM (#5008327)
    I find this 'fear' quite enlightening. It's about time MS felt *some* form of competition. They were getting a little too miserly and stifling innovation. (i.e. HOW long has Mozilla had tabbed browsing and ad-suppression? *When* might IE?)

    It's also nice that quite a few companies, such as, are taking a bite out of MS's Law Creation/Politician Acquisition fund by suing them over patent abuse and/or common-name copyrighting.

    Hopefully the "little people" in the market will have more of an effect on MS than the DoJ.
    • Re:Microsoft (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cbv ( 221379 )
      HOW long has Mozilla had tabbed browsing and ad-suppression? *When* might IE?

      It doesn't matter, because whenever IE WILL have tabbed browsing, Microsoft will announce it as their newly discovered revolutionary way of browsing the web - just like they did when Windows came out, regardless that Apply and DRi had "windows" for years before that...

  • We need to more effectively respond to press reports regarding Governments and other major institutions considering OSS alternatives to our products.

    Yeah, this is just what I want to do: Make a decision on IT issues and then issue a press release on it. All this will get me is Microsoft knocking on my door asking me for some of my time so that they can attempt to sell me on a product. Look, if I made my decision already to go with OS X, Linux, or whatever, I don't want somebody second guessing my decisions and trying to get me to change my mind.

  • by TheWanderingHermit ( 513872 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:37PM (#5008341)
    I don't get it.

    Is Microsoft actually dumb enough to write memo after memo about something they now have admitted is their biggest threat and allow all of these memos to leak so the opposition can read them?

    I was never sure about the first Halloween memo. The more that are "discovered" the more I wonder if these are truly from M$ (they must be released by our old friend, Mr. Source, or Reliable to those that know him well).

    More and more it reminds me of P.D.Q. Bach -- the least of all the Bachs. There's no evidence he existed except from Peter Shickele, who keeps finding more and more works composed by this supposed composer.
    • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:56PM (#5008557) Journal
      Linux is a major competitor on the server front, perhaps _the_ competitor. It might emerge as a serious competitor on the desktop. Microsoft takes it into account when strategizing.

      That's it. These aren't the plans to Death Star, and no Bothans have died so Eric Raymond could ridicule a misspelled word. Except maybe for the first one or two, they're utterly routine corporate memos.

      The fact that much of Raymond's fan base has never had a job causes them to read a memo from a sales head saying, "Go out there and fight!" and freak out. "M$ is plotting to destroy Lunix!!! To the X-wings!" There's nothing the "opposition" is going to get out of these things.

    • by JudasBlue ( 409332 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:56PM (#5008564)
      Is Microsoft actually dumb enough to write memo after memo about something they now have admitted is their biggest threat and allow all of these memos to leak so the opposition can read them?

      In short, yes, they are. Never worked at the enterprise level, have you?

      Exactly how else are you going to communicate with divisions that have over 5,000 people in them in order to set policy and implement proceedures than send out memos and other documentary evidence? Direct communication doesn't work over around 30 people in an office, that is why there are entirely different managment techniques for very small buisness situations and mid sized business scenarios.

      As for "allowing them to leak", when you have hundreds of people in on a memo, some of whom might have their own motives for wanting to see one idea/department/division spun a certain way, it is exceedingly difficult to keep that information from going public. Just ask the government, which is constantly leaking information, sometimes intentionally, but just as frequently unintentionally.

      Microsoft used to be a sure path to making millions quickly for an employee, but the stock options aren't worth what they used to be. It is not surprising to me at least that the level of employee loyalty might drop. Further, this might actually be a case of employee loyalty. If you really were devoted to your company, but were convinced it was going the wrong direction, this might be a way to help force the situation.

      I am not saying that I know that these memos are real, but thinking that Microsoft just wouldn't let this happen isn't realistic. All you need is a couple of people at the right level and it is exceedingly hard to stop this kind of thing. It can be done, but requires tight compartmentalization, which is very hard to do with large scale policies that you are implementing across entire enterprise groups.
      • No -- I haven't worked at enterprise level. I used to be a teacher and now I'm happily running my own small business (and bound and determined that no matter how well it does, that the number of employees always stays small enough that I know them all).

        Thanks for a point of view that I don't have.
  • by tps12 ( 105590 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:37PM (#5008343) Homepage Journal
    While it is a little scary to have the proverbial 10,000th pounded gorilla coming after you, I think we should be happy that we're starting to make the fat cats at Micro$oft nervous.

    In the past, Linux has been mostly ignored by Evil Bill and company. It made sense. Like *BSD these days, we had such a small install base that we didn't really pose much of a threat. But in the past year or two, Linux has really started to explode. It's popping up on servers, PDAs, hell, even cash registers. Suddenly, we're a force to be reckoned with.

    What we need to do now is strike while the iron's hot and go for the kill. We've got them running scared, and I think one final push is all it will take to bury Windows forever, another tombstone on the side of the fabled Information Superhighway. I plan to do my part by open sourcing all of my non-sensitive projects and donating a token amount to the FSF [] each year. I encourage others to do more.
    • 10,000th pounded gorilla

      Dammit, and I was pounded gorilla #8346...

    • by TheWanderingHermit ( 513872 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:54PM (#5008541)
      I'm not fond of 10,000 pound gorillas either, but RMS makes a good point with the quote from Ghandi. When M$ was ignoring Linux, it wasn't a threat. Now they're fighting. They're trying everything they can to take out Linux.

      But look at what's happening. They've tried outright FUD. They've tried new licensing (which was stupid and backfired). And now they're trying FUD again.

      It really is like the Borg. M$ has been used to just assimilating (buying out) or destroying any competition (either by pricing their products lower until the competition is bankrupt, by leveraging their monopoly to force people to use M$ standards, or by twisting arms in backroom deals). Now they don't know what to do -- instead of facing a big threat with one name, where a well aimed shot, or a massive attack could destroy any threat, they're fighting something all pervasive, like a virus.

      And the funny thing is they don't know what to od! It's got them so scared they're beginning to do stupid things and having knee-jerk reactions.

      I don't think Windows will end up burried forever, but I think if Linux distros unified and started pushing easy to use desktop systems with on them, I think we'd soon find that most companies are not focusing on JUST Word compatability anymore, but on Word and OOo.

      Linux is in a good position, and it gets better and better. M$ is fighting Linux -- but that's because it's a real threat and could even (conceivably, but unlikely) bankrupt the company. That's good, because M$ has no idea how to fight a movement. They just don't understand the structure -- by their very nature of being a cold-hearted predatory company, there is no way they ever can understand OSS.
  • perfectly healthy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fortunatus ( 445210 )
    the memo outlines perfectly healthy organizational function. it's exactly what MS should be doing. if those folks actually function that way, they've moved up a few notches in my esteem.
  • Office for Linux? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:37PM (#5008353)
    My question is, if Linux overtakes MacOS on the desktop, can Microsoft continue to justify to it's shareholders the reasons behind not making Office for Linux?

    They can't say there isn't a market if they make Office for a *less* popular OS.

    (It's not that I actually want nor need Office for Linux.. but it's something I'm curious about)
    • by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:43PM (#5008415) Homepage Journal
      My question is, if Linux overtakes MacOS on the desktop, can Microsoft continue to justify to it's shareholders the reasons behind not making Office for Linux?

      So, this is an interesting and obvious question that has been kicked around for some time. As a M$ shareholder I have made this argument before that if Microsoft would cease attempting to make everything fit within the Windows paradigm and start writing quality software that meets consumer demand, they would be a much more powerful and wealthier company. Hey, all one has to do is look at the profitability of the Macintosh Business unit at Microsoft which is doing quite nicely thank you, making software for a completely different platform than Windows. In fact, I find the Office X for OS X to be a superior product to the Windows version of Office given the tie-ins to OS X functionality and rendering.

      • If MS makes Office for Linux, it will have effect of "blessing" a particular distribution, and in turn creating its biggest competitor.

        Because each distro has its own little quirks, I can't imagine a sane company releasing something as large as Office for all distros. Even the differences between RH and Mandrake are pretty big. So they'd have to pick 1 or 2 distros and test for them.

        And at that point, those distros will become the defacto standard Linux desktop.
      • . Hey, all one has to do is look at the profitability of the Macintosh Business unit at Microsoft which is doing quite nicely thank you, making software for a completely different platform than Windows. In fact, I find the Office X for OS X to be a superior product to the Windows version of Office given the tie-ins to OS X functionality and rendering.

        Well, there are two separate issues here.

        The first is that Microsoft most likely would not rewrite Office for Linux, ever. It simply costs too much. Office X by the way has not been very profitable, in fact, it may not even have been profitable at all, I seem to remember Microsoft bitching at Apple telling them to sell more copies of a competing OS just so they could make back what they spent on it.

        It's also kind of a moot point, as Office already runs OK on Linux via Wine. If Microsoft wanted to "make" Office for Linux, all they'd need to do is ship binaries compiled with WineLib. A weeks work for one or two people, at most. Of course they'd probabably want to improve Wine if they were going to do that, which is fortunately now LGPLd.

        In short, I think it'll be a cold day in hell before Microsoft release Office for Linux, but even if they don't, it doesn't matter, because you can just buy the Windows version and use that. Office X is certainly good, but it shows what Joel Spolski has been saying for some time, namely that rewrites rarely pay off. This all assumes MS can keep their lead on Office suites of course. OpenOffice isn't as good as MS Office yet, not by a long way (he says as OO segfaults on him yet again [sigh]), but Office hasn't really changed a great deal lately. It's not inconceivable that OO could catch up.

    • The justification is that there is not now a market for it.

      There are not many apps that people pay for with regards to *nix. Its just the truth. There are but a handful of successful apps.

      What we do know is that lots of people pirate software, and lot of those people are percieved to be "hackers", and that a lot of "hackers" are percieved to be Linux users. MS knows what is obvious: they won't sell many copies of Office for Linux, that they will still be slammed in the Linux/UNIX world, and that the product will be pirated on a massive scale (or copied in an infringing manner) from the very instant it is available.
      • by swillden ( 191260 )

        the product will be pirated on a massive scale (or copied in an infringing manner) from the very instant it is available.

        And this is different from the Windows version how?

        I built a machine for my brother-in-law for Christmas and installed on it, rather than an infringing copy of Office (yes, I have a copy of Office XP, purchased for $2 by my brother in Macedonia; no, I don't use it). I pointed out that does everything he needs, can read and write MS Office files and should work just fine. He called his brother and got a copy of MS Office to install. Why? Not because he found to be inadequate -- he didn't even try it -- but because pirating MS Office was so trivially easy and such a normal thing to do that he thought the idea of even trying to use something legal was just silly.

        The fact is, home users almost invariably steal their software, and business users generally pay for it. There's no reason to suppose that the underlying operating system platform would have any effect on this state of affairs.

    • Re:Office for Linux? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:47PM (#5008460) Homepage
      My question is, if Linux overtakes MacOS on the desktop, can Microsoft continue to justify to it's shareholders the reasons behind not making Office for Linux?

      They can't say there isn't a market if they make Office for a *less* popular OS.

      They can justify it.

      They make Office for Mac as an extortion tool to force Apple into compliance with Microsoft's wishes. Hey, Apple, you better make Internet Exploder the default browser or we'll discontinue Office for the Mac. Sound crazy? The preceeding came out in the antitrust trial.

      No such extortion logic applies to Open Source. Hey, Open Source, you better do XXXX or we'll discontinue (or won't initially develop) Microsoft Office for Linux! I wonder what the open source community's reaction would be if MS threatened not to bring Office to Linux? How badly would we take it? Just how much could Microsoft force us to do using this tactic?
    • from a pure valuation standpoint, the returns that MS share holders recieve come from the monopoly tag team in both upstream and downstream markets (the OS and the application). to weaken that link would dramatically change the dynamics of the free cash flow forcasts going forward.

      that is to say nothing of the signalling effect that it would have in the market. begining to sell office for linux be taken as a very pessimistic signal about MS management's view of their relative strenth.

      the stock would take a beating and the lawsuits would fly. at this point i'm pretty sure it would do nothing if not make a train wreck of the equity value.
    • they've left it too late. Since they did not make Office available for Linux others have moved in and filled the gap already.

      Why on earth would I install MS Office on Linux when I've already replaced it, even on my Windows partition?

      Keep up, or drop out. MS dropped the ball on this one because they thought no one could catch up, let alone put *them* in the catch up position.

      They were wrong.

  • Anyone still care? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:38PM (#5008363) Journal
    A cut and paste of my LinuxToday post -- too busy arguing H1-B policy here to come up with something new...for entertainment purposes, I will throw in a link to ESR heroically facing down al-Qaeda. []

    Who cares any more? Clearly, free software has now risen to the point where competing software makers take it into account in their planning. Eric Raymond periodically gets his hands on some entirely routine memo from Microsoft and spins it into some apocalyptic confrontation between Good and Evil. He needs to lay off the Lord of the Rings, I think.

    Actually, the memo is funny in its concern. Basically, it deals with the fact that when some government considers switching a few servers to Linux, or some legislator proposes an open-source-only policy, Slashdot and the rest of the Linux media turn it into "INDIA SWITCHING TO LINUX!" AND "NORWAY SWITCHING TO LINUX!" It's not nearly as much deliberate spin as it is complete journalistic incompetence and the inability to read linked articles, but it's an effective enough fUD technique that Microsoft feels compelled to respond to it. ;-)

  • by dagg ( 153577 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:38PM (#5008366) Journal
    The commentary on the document is pretty hard-hitting:
    {We'll start by learning how to type the word "become" correctly. We promise.}

    That in reference to a misspelling in the memo. That's some pretty juicy stuff they found there.

    • Not to mention that their security 'sucks dead maggots through a straw.' Having run out of actual things to call Microsoft upon, it's nice to see the bulwarks of OSS are reduced to such as this.

      Maybe one of these days I'll try out some dead-equine-flagellation myself; it seems to be awful fun. Happens so much around here, I MUST be missing out on something....

  • Big Deal... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pdaoust ( 592115 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:41PM (#5008391)
    Miscrosoft is just behaving like any other company would when threatened by competition, be it OSS or other...
  • by DA_MAN_DA_MYTH ( 182037 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:42PM (#5008400) Homepage Journal
    ... running a normal business. Microsoft is a business that is looking to make money. Goverments and Corporations moving to Linux and Star Office means less money for them. They are trying circumvent that. Can you blame them?

    This is an unusual Halloween memorandum in that it's not particularly redolent of evil.

    Was this newsworthy? Microsoft definitely does not have a monopoly on servers. Also they are beginning to lose their grasp of a monopoly on the desktop. They realize this, why doesn't everyone else.
  • by fetta ( 141344 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:43PM (#5008413)
    I don't really see anything that sinister here. It looks like a typical memo defining a procedure for responding with "one voice" to a business challenge that Microsoft faces. Frankly, I'd be surprised if they weren't having these kind of discussions.

    Some of the comments seem unecessarily shrill to me. Example:

    Name the key contacts within the gov't
    {Translation: Who can we suborn?}

    Providing a list of people to contact does not imply suborning (from "to induce secretly to do an unlawful thing") to me. How is it unlawful to contact a customer who might be going to a competitor and trying to convince them to reconsider?

    Don't get me wrong - I'm excited to see governments looking at Linux and Open Source as an alternative. I just don't think it serves anybody's best interest to take a pretty routine memo and try to turn it into the Pentagon Papers.

  • Deliver, at minimum, guidance and messaging regarding any new instance within the same business day of your mail being received, including WW communication to prepare all subs

    Is it just me, or does this paragraph sound like something from War Games movie? Subs - submarines. Guidance and messaging. WW - World War.

    Holly shit! Is Microsoft preparing for a real war on everyone that go with OSS? I think I'll be preparing that bunker of mine that I have on the backyard just for such an occasion before they call an airstrike!
  • This sound's like Micro$oft's attempt to keep the news of OSS acceptance into the world at bay, and if not then to debunk it's worth in the eyes of the news savy readers. Joe User doesn't give a rat's @ss about this, but one day he will finally see something different of the shelves and the advertisement flyer's of CompUSA and Best Buy that wasn't there before. The readers of /. already know the benefits of OSS and Linux, but Joe User will need to be kicked and dragged to see the light, and it will burn.

    Everyone knows that OSS will be more wide accepted when the user will not have to decrypt configuration files. It might, and I repeat, MIGHT be better to go to an XML based configuration file so they could also be editable through a, dare I say it, GUI? Don't flame me, but most people, including I prefer to use GUIs since it's almost idiot proof so I don't miss-type that comma or underscore. We also know how powerful the command line is when we know what we want. Again, Joe User doesn't want to see a command line. I don't much about cars, but I can drive my truck all day long, refill with gas and continue of my way. That's the way Joe User wants it, and should be. I prefer Linux because it has many many more knobs for me to tweak to my liking.

    Anywho, let me get back to the path about MS trying to subvert the truth about OSS. OSS will be more widely accpetable when Joe Admin User can configure his machines easier with a GUI instead of configuration files and look-n-feel feels more "professional" and maybe more high-tech looking instead of the Fisher Price look-n-feel. Yes, eye candy does go a long way.

    Now... I am ready for your bashing.
  • No company would normally allow EIGHT such memos to be leaked out. There are 2 options: Either these memos are not from Microsoft, which sounds weird, because I bet they would have a press release concerning the "fake memos". This leaves us the 2nd option: They are being leaked on purpose. This all looks like some sort of clever manipulation, but I am not that interested in the subject to start doing deep analysis of all the memos trying to find specific clues.

    Anyone who is more competent than I am can probably do it.
  • These documents are NOTHING compared to some of the stuff floating about from other companies (and some of the OSS companies have documents just as bad as these eight.)

    Seriously, this really isn't anything at all. Hell, even Halloween #1 wasn't that big of a deal, but you all are taking it to the extreme. I swear, if a "leaked" memo came out that said Microsoft actually paid Torvalds to create his kernel you'd jump on that too....

    None of these are particularly newsworthy.
  • It looks like Microsoft is really beginning to notice the national and corporate movement towards FS/OSS

    I think the enthusiasm here is a bit overstated. If you count up the computer using businesses that don't heavily rely on (a) Outlook or Outlook Express, (b) Word, (c) Excel, (d) PowerPoint, then it's a _very_ short list. Yes, there are small tech-oriented businesses that don't use any of these things, but please don't kid yourself into thinking that this is the general case. That is not a flame by any means; it just doesn't do any good to overstate things.

    Personally, I've found that FS/OSS is superior in some areas (Perl, Python, Apache) and less so in other areas (Delphi vs. Free Pascal, gcc vs. compilers from Microsoft and Intel). It isn't clear cut enough to be a "movement." If anything, the really good free stuff tends to be more development oriented (e.g. SDL) than application oriented.
  • by kakos ( 610660 )
    I'm going to get modded down because I'm speaking against the almighty Linux (gasp!), but here it goes.

    Linux has no applications worth speaking of. It has some Office imitations, some other things, but that is it. The majority of applications are geared heavily towards programmers. As such, programmers are the only people right now that can effectively use it as a desktop OS.

    If anything, I think we'll see a surge of Mac OS X. They have a lot of good applications, a very nice interface, AND it is also a great platform to do programming on.
  • Because it is much more chilling without Eric's rants:

    From: Orlando Ayala

    Sent: Monday, November 25, 2002 5:22 AM

    To: GMs of Subsidiaries

    Cc: Mich Mathews; Mike Nash; Craig Mundie; Brad Smith (LCA); Pamela Passman (LCA); Vivek Varma; Orlando Ayala's Direct Reports

    Subject: OSS and Goverment

    We need to more effectively respond to press reports regarding Governments and other major institutions considering OSS alternatives to our products.We must be prepared to respond to announcements,such as this one by the Japan Government (or prior announcements in Peru, Germany etc) quickly and with facts to counter the perception that large institutions are deploying OSS or Linux, when they are only considering or just piloting the technology. Announcements by governments are reported quickly around the world and require more coordination. In several instances,our ability to communicate effectively has been hindered by a lack of integration across groups in Redmond and the subsidiaries.

    How to Escalate: Send an email immediately (same day) to the OSSI alias. This group includes members from the Security Business Unit, Server Marketing, LCA and Corporate PR who can quickly pull in additional stakeholders, influence business decisions, create and communicate PR guidance. Your mail should include the following information:

    * Designate the subsidiary owner (s) and their 24 hour contact information

    * Explain the overall validity of claim, what is being reported, what is true/false

    * Explain how and where the organization fits within govt structure (is it a small/medium/large department, how much influence does it have on other IT decisions, are their political influences at play, is there a commitment to deploy, what are the specific details of the announcement, what are the next steps)

    * Explain likely influences, bottom line reasoning on why this is happening (i.e. security, cost, politics)

    * Explain Microsoft's presence in the account

    * Name the key contacts within the gov't

    * Name available third parties/potential defenders

    * Provide detail on the writer and their media who are writing the story, i.e. are they technical, political, sensational

    The Commitment From Corporate:

    * Deliver, at minimum, guidance and messaging regarding any new instance within the same business day of your mail being received, including WW communication to prepare all subs

    * Follow up with additional guidance, messaging and content within a second business day, including customer and government communication tools

    * ecome much better in giving messaging and content proactively on OSS and Linux related issues.

    * Todd and MarkM to coordinate with SueB on Mike Nash participation in Linux business press tour


  • by Dante ( 3418 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:54PM (#5008542) Journal

    It seems to me that this memo really not worth the time it took to read. I guess that Microsofts opinion matters less and less, and thats a good thing. We (the OSS / FS people) are going are own way, less a reaction to Microsoft and more what do we think is important; openness, the art and creativity, the developers, the users, stability, speed.

    What I want is to stop: stop caring about MS, about how they are evil empire, and how to beat said empire; and start thinking about all the cool, neat, amazing solutions to problems we can solve.

    ESR has to give it up, stop reacting, stop trying to gather the limelight. I think he has lost his way, he needs start coding, doing something else, solve real problems, instead of chasing that strawman.

  • by zentec ( 204030 ) <zentec AT gmail DOT com> on Friday January 03, 2003 @04:02PM (#5008629)

    Eric S. Raymond was arrested today by the FBI for being in posession of confidential documents from Microsoft corporation. Microsoft has charged that posession is tantimount to industrial espionage and violates the DMCA.

    "I find the whole matter deeply disturbing and troubling that this confidential document ended up in the hands of this individual. Obviously, intellectual and ownership rights have no meaning to the 'Linux' crowd and it just goes to show you their true mettle", said Microsoft spokesperson Nyles Forebush in an exclusive interview to Slashdot's Cowboy Neil.

    Mr. Raymond is being held without bail at the federal penetentiary in Milan, Michigan.
  • by coupland ( 160334 ) <> on Friday January 03, 2003 @04:05PM (#5008654) Journal

    I don't see how his inline comments add anything to the memo that we wouldn't have gotten from it if he hasn't simply quoted it sans-editorial. In fact, his comments look less like clarification and commentary than simple whining. He should read "Eric Raymond's tips for effective open source advocacy" [] some time. ;-)

    I also am surprised that he acts almost insulted by the memo. What did he expect, Microsoft would support OSS? The phrase "free software" gets the same reaction from Microsoft as the phrase "free cars" would get from Ford. Don't fault the rattlesnake for biting. []

  • by thrillbert ( 146343 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @04:18PM (#5008781) Homepage
    Yes, it is true, Microsoft actually did write these memos.

    They were written by a group of individuals in the DTPOSF department (Distract Those Pesky Open Source Flunkies) and leaked to Slashdot for the purpose of slowing down progress.

    By getting all of us to stop what we're doing, comment on how stupid they are and how much they phear us, they have accomplished exactly what they were organized to do - distract us.

    So quit your gawking and get back to coding, we have an empire to destroy...

    Dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with Windows(tm).
  • by kobotronic ( 240246 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @04:40PM (#5008974)
    Funny, how internal microsoft strategy letters, with their abbreviations and paramilitary jargon and posturing, resemble internal Scientology memos.

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @05:03PM (#5009232)
    "Oh! Oh! Br'er Bear! Don't! Don't throw me in that briar patch!"

    Gee, it's convenient for a company facing a court decision on anti-trust grounds, and a decision on whether or not to be independently pursued at a state level, to have this big, scary, Linux monster under their bed. Isn't it?

    -- Terry
  • by altaic ( 559466 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @05:06PM (#5009264)
    This is the eighth leaked letter concerning reactions to OSS! If MS is not using these letters to carefully manuever the public, they have all got to be totally stupid. For us to believe that they aren't would make us even more so.

    Here is the introduction:
    Everybody remember the Gandhi quote?

    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

    Gentlemen and ladies, this newest leaked memo from Microsoft confirms that we are advancing through GandhiCon Three. As usual, highlights are in red and comments are in {green, also bracketed for the color-blind}. Also as usual, the memo is otherwise unedited and exactly as I received it, with one exception: in the text version I was sent, the last bullet item was inexplicably positioned after the sender sig "Orlando".

    Some analysis follows the memo.


    Gandhi's words *are* wise, but the problem it that we (the OSS community) are the ones who are laughing. We're so secure in the fact that OSS can't be touched in the traditional method that we're just sitting back and taking every inch of their retreat as a victory. But it's a tactical retreat! Clearly MS is doing something tricky with palladium, and the gods know what else. I'd be not so quick to dismiss the "inexplicably positioned" bullet item, nor would I say the "then we win" step is so near.

    I don't mean to sound paranoid or anything, but it's bloody foolish to be overconfident.
  • by Valar ( 167606 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @05:21PM (#5009396)
    have any of these things really been creditible after the first one? ESR is once again leading everyone around in circles. ESR wants to be king of a new world order, but his problem is that there is no new world order. So he is trying to create a us versus them world, so we will all rally behind him.
    • "ESR wants to be king of a new world order, but his problem is that there is no new world order."

      I would say that there is definitely a new world order, but it doesn't need a king.
  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @07:07PM (#5010378) Homepage
    Linux keeps getting better.
    Windows keeps getting better. (Technically, not counting the EULAs)

    Is the gap closing? I don't think so. There's still way more software and systems being created for Windows.

    But Linux is doing something else, for users that don't need any exotic software. Do you need a server? Do you need a simple browsing/e-mail/basic office pack desktop? You got it. Maybe next year I can add a couple more things to that list. Maybe a few more are good enough now already and I don't know about it or agree.

    In Windows, you choose between different software with different cost. In Linux, most of the tools people use are free, and there isn't many commercial counterparts. That means that those that *do* use Linux use it because it *already* does what the users want it to do, for free.

    That's what spooks Microsoft. It's not that people switch. It's that they don't really have anything to offer to get them back should they decide Linux is "good enough" as it is. Any business would. And should.

  • by Man_Holmes ( 519973 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @07:11PM (#5010417)
    People have overlooked one major trend and that's the rise of web native ASP's. Our company is one of hundreds out there creating vertical industry specific applications. Things like accounting, supply chain management, crm and sales force automation. Everything is available through a browser. You're not aware of it because the great majority of companies like ours may be well known in their industries but not on any national radar screen. What happens in five years time when companies realize that the only thing they use Windows for is email and MS Office? Suddenly Linux with evolution and Open Office becomes a viable alternative. If the business applications are all accessed through the browser the games over for Windows. People that's the main reason Microsoft bought Great Plains. They want all these vertical providers working on a Microsoft framework. Man Holmes
  • Sure they can hold back mass migration to linux but what does it bother us? If we keep this pace up in development of Linux Microsoft will be lagging behind real soon. The snowball is rolling and i dont think Microsoft has the capability to stop it anymore. Lets leave Microsoft behind and let them fight a ghost. Without something to hit they are lost. They have shown us again and again with their gorilla practices that they cant compete on engineering or quality with anyone.

    Let them fight nothing but air and windmills!

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes