hakspek = H = hammer

Halloween Documents n.

A pair of Microsoft internal strategy memoranda leaked to ESR in late 1998 that confirmed everybody's paranoia about the current Evil Empire. These documents praised the technical excellence of Linux and outlined a counterstrategy of attempting to lock in customers by "de-commoditizing" Internet protocols and services. They were extensively cited on the Internet and in the press and proved so embarrassing that Microsoft PR barely said a word in public for six months afterwards.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

The name given to a series of internal memos written by Microsoft engineers, regarding the Open Source movement, Linux systems, their effect on Microsoft and the Software market and possible strategies Microsoft should take to liquidate the problem.

The memos were very surprising, mainly because Microsoft is finally reffering to the Open Source movement and Linux, admitting that they are a threat to Microsoft.
Additionaly, the strategies to "solve" the linux problem describes Monopolistic manipulations and FUD tactics.

The documents were leaked to the OpenSource.org staff in Halloween night 1998, allowing Eric Raymond to publish the complete text to the press and at the world wide web.

Microsoft was forced to acknowledge the document's authenticity, and quickly came with a press release that basically meant nothing but "It's real, It's not official and Linux is no threat".

The original document, The Microsoft reaction and other related info, all with Raymond's useful comments, are located at http://www.opensource.org/halloween/, and I believe it's a must-read for any computer user.

Some notable quotes:

  • OSS poses a direct, short-term revenue and platform threat to Microsoft, particularly in server space. Additionally, the intrinsic parallelism and free idea exchange in OSS has benefits that are not replicable with our current licensing model and therefore present a long term developer mindshare threat.
  • Recent case studies (the Internet) provide very dramatic evidence ... that commercial quality can be achieved / exceeded by OSS projects.
  • OSS is long-term credible ... FUD tactics can not be used to combat it.
  • Linux can win as long as services / protocols are commodities.
  • The ability of the OSS process to collect and harness the collective IQ of thousands of individuals across the Internet is simply amazing. More importantly, OSS evangelization scales with the size of the Internet much faster than our own evangelization efforts appear to scale.

Related URLs:

  • The Halloween documents: http://www.opensource.org/halloween/index.html
  • Halloween documents @ NYTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/98/11/biztech/articles/03memo.html
  • Halloween documents @ Wired: http://www.wired.com/news/news/technology/story/15990.html
  • Microsoft Corp.: http://www.microsoft.com/

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