Two internal Microsoft memos, leaked to the Internet last week, revealed the company's fear of Linux and suggest that introducing proprietary extensions to standard Internet protocols is the only way to undermine it.
The memos were leaked to Eric Raymond, an influential exponent of open source software (OSS) such as Linux, who dubbed the first The Halloween Document "in recognition of the date (of its release), and my fond hope that publishing it will help realise Microsoft's worst nightmares".
The second memo was leaked to Raymond a few days later, which he imaginatively called The Halloween Document II.
The Halloween documents seem to be internal strategy assessment memos directed at top management. They were both submitted by Microsoft engineer Vinod Valloppillil with contributions from top executives such as Jim Allchin, senior vice president of the platforms group.
The first document outlines OSS in its entirety, whereas the second focuses on Linux, the free operating system based on Unix. The first document concludes that "OSS poses a direct, short-term revenue and platform threat to Microsoft, particularly in (the) server space", and suggests that the only way Microsoft can combat it is "by extending (the Internet's) highly commoditised, simple protocols and developing new protocols".
The second Microsoft document admits that "long term, (the author's) simple experiments do indicate that Linux has a chance at the desktop market", and that "Linux is a credible alternative to (commercially) developed servers in many, high volume applications".
Microsoft admitted that the first document was genuine, and an ex-Microsoft employee claimed that it was not deliberately leaked. The veracity of the second document had not been confirmed at the time of going to press.
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