"We need to smile with Novell when we pull the trigger."
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 98 10:44:49 -0700
Subject: "We need to smile with Novell when we pull the trigger."
Forwarded-by: Chuck Yerkes <chuck@Yerkes.com>
Forwarded-by: David HM Spector <firstname.lastname@example.org>
-- Erik Espe Business Journal Staff Writer
Microsoft Corp. says it is "troubled" by a new book that exposes
never-before-released memos and accuses the company of everything from
bugging hotel rooms to obstructing justice.
"Eighty percent of the e-mails I quoted in the book are still under seal,"
said Illinois-based writer Wendy Goldman Rohm, whose book "The Microsoft
Files" is due to hit stores Sept. 8.
She won't say how she acquired the e-mails and quotations from meetings
within the company--only that she has sources at the "highest levels" from
10 years of covering the firm for Wired, Red Herring, the Chicago Tribune,
the Boston Globe and a number of other publications.
Some of the allegations leveled at the Redmond, Wash.-based company and
others in the book are explosive:
- Microsoft bugged the Las Vegas hotel room of senior IBM
executive James Cannavino during a conference in 1989.
- Microsoft has withheld information from federal investigators
working in the antitrust suit against the company. "There are
documents published in the book that were never turned over to
the feds by Microsoft," Ms. Rohm said.
- Microsoft incorporated bugs into its software and operating
systems so they would not work with competitors' products.
- Microsoft officials routinely traded e-mails discussing ways to
"kill" their competitors.
In one never-before-released memo quoted in the book, Jim Allchin, a senior
vice president at the company, wrote in 1993 regarding Microsoft rival
Novell Inc.: "If you're going to kill someone there isn't much reason to
get all that worked up about it and angry. You just pull the trigger. Angry
discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile with Novell
when we pull the trigger."
Microsoft representative Mark Murray said that quote was taken out of
"The author has chosen to extract only a tiny snippet of the entire
document," he said.
"The entire document says the exact opposite of what the author claims it
He also said the allegations about the bugged hotel room in Las Vegas "are
"Based on our review, we think bookstores should file the book in their
fiction sections," he said.
The book's portrayal of founder Bill Gates is especially unflattering. He's
described as "an ill-kempt, socially inept, scrawny, insecure, ruthless Lex
"He's very paranoid," Ms. Rohm said in a phone interview with The Business
Journal. "Whenever the tiniest company gets the teeniest toe-hold in a new
market, he's just beside himself with doing something about it."
One of the companies that has especially irked Mr. Gates, according to Ms.
Rohm, is Mountain View-based Netscape, which enjoyed a 70 percent share of
the Internet browser market in 1995.
Today, that share has dropped to just above 50 percent, thanks to an
aggressive campaign by Microsoft to make its Internet Explorer the market's
Microsoft has argued that its browser gained market share simply because it
is a superior product. But critics such as watchdog group NetAction have
charged that Microsoft cut deals with Internet service
providers--arrangements that would fall into the category of "illegal,
anti-competitive practices" cited by the U.S. Department of Justice and 20
states when they filed suit against Microsoft in May.
Ms. Rohm said Microsoft felt threatened by the notion that browsers could
someday replace operating systems, so it became obsessed with Netscape.
She sees it as a sign of Mr. Gates' paranoia.
"If you read some of the e-mail that went between Gates and the top
executives, they saw what Netscape was doing as making the operating system
obsolete," she said. "That's what drove Gates out of his mind with
In a 1996 presentation to other Microsoft executives, Brad Silverberg,
senior vice president for the Internet platform and tools division, said,
"This is not about browsers. Our competitors are trying to create an
alternative platform to Windows."
The book reports that in another presentation in 1996, Paul Martiz, group
vice president of Microsoft's Platforms Group, warned that "Netscape/Java
is using the browser to create a 'virtual operating system' [that] is no
longer a browser, now an environment. ... Windows will become devalued,
The Justice Department has accused Microsoft of forcing computer makers to
bundle PCs with Internet Explorer if they wanted to include the Windows
operating system. In March, Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale held a press
conference urging the government to file an antitrust suit against
The antitrust case is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 23. Ms. Rohm believes
parts of her book could become evidence.
But Mr. Murray questions the quotes in Ms. Rohm's book, which she said she
obtained using unnamed sources.
"She was at that meeting?" Mr. Murray asks. "The book includes made-up
quotations at meetings where the author was never present."
He said Microsoft is considering a libel suit against Ms. Rohm for the book,
but is weighing whether that would only brighten the spotlight on it.
"When there is a book that is so full of inaccuracies and falsehood, do you
only bring more attention to it by filing some sort of legal action?" he
(c) 1998, The Business Journal
© 1998 Peter Langston