The Halloween Document
Mime-Version: 1.0 (NeXT Mail 3.3 v118.2)
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Mon, 2 Nov 98 13:31:05 -0800
Subject: The Halloween Document
[I have included a few of the links as text in <angle brackets>. -psl]
Open Source Software
A (New?) Development Methodology
The body of the Halloween Document is an internal strategy memorandum on
Microsoft's possible responses to the Linux/Open Source phenomenon. It
smells too strongly of Microsoft's unique corporate culture (as revealed by
independent resources such as _The Borg_ <http://cinepad.com/borg.htm>) to
be other than genuine.
The list of collaborators mentioned at the end includes some people who are
known to be key players at Microsoft, and the document reads as though the
research effort had the cooperation of top management; it may even have been
commissioned as a policy white paper for Bill Gates's attention (the author
seems to have expected that Gates would read it).
Accordingly, it provides us with a very valuable look past Microsoft's
dismissive marketing spin about Open Source at what the company is actually
thinking -- which, as you'll see, is an odd combination of astuteness and
Since the author quoted my analyses of open-source community dynamics (_The
Cathedral and the Bazaar_
<http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar>) and _Homesteading
the Noosphere_ <http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/homesteading>)
extensively, it seems fair that I should respond on behalf of the community.
Here are some notable quotes from the document, with hotlinks to where they
are embedded. It's helpful to know that ``OSS'' is the author's abbreviation
for ``Open Source Software''.
_*_ 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
_*_ Recent case studies (the Internet) provide very dramatic evidence ...
that commercial quality can be achieved / exceeded by OSS projects.
_*_ ...to understand how to compete against OSS, we must target a process
rather than a company.
_*_ OSS is long-term credible ... FUD tactics can not be used to combat it.
_*_ Linux and other OSS advocates are making a progressively more credible
argument that OSS software is at least as robust -- if not more -- than
commercial alternatives. The Internet provides an ideal, high-visibility
showcase for the OSS world.
_*_ Linux has been deployed in mission critical, commercial environments
with an excellent pool of public testimonials. ... Linux outperforms many
other UNIXes ... Linux is on track to eventually own the x86 UNIX market
_*_ Linux can win as long as services / protocols are commodities.
_*_ OSS projects have been able to gain a foothold in many server
applications because of the wide utility of highly commoditized, simple
protocols. By extending these protocols and developing new protocols, we
can deny OSS projects entry into the market.
_*_ 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.
© 1998 Peter Langston