Subject: [Fwd: How Microsoft Thinks]
From: "Tim O'Reilly" <tim@oreilly.com>
Date: Tue, 03 Nov 1998 12:20:30 +0100
Tue, 03 Nov 1998 12:20:30 +0100


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Subject: How Microsoft Thinks
From: dave@scripting.com (DaveNet email)
Date: Tue, 03 Nov 1998 15:17:31 GMT

-------------------------------------
>From Scripting News... It's DaveNet! 
Released on 11/3/98; 7:14:41 AM PST
-------------------------------------

  Good morning! 
  
  I just finished reading the "Halloween Memo" which got a lot of play on 
  the net yesterday, along with comments from Eric S. Raymond. 
  
  <http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/halloween.html> 
  
  I found Raymond's comments distracting as I was trying to understand 
  what the memo was saying, so I wrote a little script that removed 
  Raymond's comments, and posted the result here: 
  
  <http://www.scripting.com/misc/halloweenMemo.html> 
  
  If you are a user of Microsoft software, or a developer who builds on 
  their system software and/or apps, I highly recommend reading this 
  piece. I believe it's real. If so, it provides a glimpse into the 
  thinking process at Microsoft. 
  
  It's about more than open software, there's probably a similar paper 
  inside Microsoft on the Department of Justice and one on IBM, and 
  quite a few, over the last few years on the web and Java. 
  
  Here are my notes after reading the piece. 
  
  ***How Microsoft Thinks 
  
  As you might imagine, Microsoft is looking to embrace the ideas of the 
  open source world, and is thinking if it will diminish their role as 
  the dominant operating system software company. 
  
  I agree with their major conclusion that right now open source 
  software is powerful on the server, and not in strong position on the 
  desktop, on client machines or on content workstations. 
  
  They note IBM's recent increased involvement with the Apache web 
  server. They also note a falloff in interest on the Mozilla mail 
  lists, which they archive internally. A reminder to people who 
  believe Microsoft isn't watching and listening, it's better to 
  assume they are. 
  
  The piece talks openly about FUD, Fear Uncertainty and Doubt, and 
  acknowledges that the leading open source products, Linux, Apache 
  and Perl, aren't vulnerable to FUD, since their continued existence 
  isn't in doubt. 
  
  One of the most interesting sections is towards the end, talking 
  about ways of blunting attacks from the open source world. While XML 
  isn't mentioned, it's behind the discussion on WebDAV, with a 
  prediction that the Apache organization won't pick the right way to 
  invest in WebDAV, and presumably this will provide an advantage to 
  Microsoft, server-side. 
  
  I find this very interesting because my company has been trawling on 
  the edge of WebDAV, experiencing the same kind of confusion. It may be 
  that WebDAV is just plain confusing, equally so to the people at 
  Microsoft. Or there could be an ace up their sleeve that we can't see. 
  
  There's no mention of XML-RPC, but it does talk about MSMQ for 
  Distributed Applications. What is that? I don't know. 
  
  To understand this memo and to understand Microsoft, remember that 
  this is a very big company with thousands of employees. Unless 
  they're organized by an outside threat, they often move slowly and in 
  a confusing way, both internally and to people outside Microsoft. 
  
  This memo represents one slice of the thinking of this organization, 
  both in time and in people. It's almost certain now, three months 
  later, that Microsoft has a different focus, a different set of 
  priorities and a different set of issues they're working on. 
  
  I see it differently from Raymond, who polarizes things as open 
  source versus closed source. I think, as Microsoft does, that many of 
  the supposed discoveries of open source are actually discoveries 
  that apply to all software, independent of their economic model. In 
  fact, what's really going on is the opportunity of the Internet to 
  displace centralized software companies, like Microsoft, is being 
  wasted because of insignficant lines between non-Microsoft 
  development organizations. 
  
  ***Open source is a fixture 
  
  Earlier this year I made a bet with some Microsoft people that before 
  long they would be releasing source code as a normal part of their 
  development and release process. They said it will never happen. In 
  the memo it's clear that they're now considering releasing parts of 
  the Windows source code, for example, the TCP/IP stack. Although 
  people on both sides of this fence doubt it will ever happen, I remain 
  sure that Microsoft will adapt and in some ways match Linux, Apache 
  and Perl, and will probably embrace open source to a greater extent 
  than anyone now thinks possible. 
  
  And that's the way it will work for all software companies. The ones 
  that are starting around SendMail, Linux, Perl and Tcl (what else?) 
  will release proprietary software in binary form (many already 
  have) and Microsoft, Adobe and Symantec (and UserLand) will release 
  parts of their technology base in source form. This is a transition 
  that began a long time ago, and it's accelerating. 
  
  ***Visible Embrace and Extend 
  
  Microsoft has had recent great success with its Embrace and Extend 
  strategy in its competition with Netscape and Sun. It's virtually 
  certain that they will respond to open source with the same tactic, 
  that they won't resist open source, they will embrace the idea and 
  then take it where they want it to go. 
  
  For the first time, this memo reveals the process at work, it's 
  visible and it's pure Microsoft. If the memo isn't real, it was 
  written by someone with a very deep understanding of how Microsoft 
  works and thinks. 
  
  Dave Winer 

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 Tue, 03 Nov 1998 15:17:31 GMT