Halloween Documents FAQ
French Translation *offsite
Since the first Halloween Document was released on 1 Nov 1998, I have
received an astonishing flood of email questions about them. Dealing
with these has made getting any other work done difficult, so here is
a list of the most common ones with answers.
Are these for real?
Yes. Microsoft has
acknowledged the authenticity of these documents. Halloween I, II,
III and VII are real; IV, V and VI are satire/commentary consequent on
various Microsoft statements.
How did you acquire them?
I, II, III, VII, and VIII came to me by email from four different
sources. Like any good investigative reporter, I'm not going to
reveal who those sources were.
However, I will say that none of the author/contributor/reviewers
listed in Halloween I and Halloween II were among them.
What was your motive for publishing these?
For close on twenty years I have watched Microsoft peddle inferior
technology with slick marketing, destroy competitors with dirty
tricks, and buy its way out of trouble. Like most people in the know,
I grumbled about it to colleagues. I expressed my resistance to the
Borg of Redmond by refusing to use Microsoft products, and by helping
develop alternative open-source software. But in the end, if software
consumers remained oblivious, what could be done?
I never stopped hoping that some day the truth would come out.
So, when a chance came for me, personally, to blow the whistle on
Microsoft using its own words to show the world what lurks behind
the smiling facade I jumped at it.
Some have accused me of hating success, of envying Bill Gates, even of
"software socialism." Well, a net-worth of fifty-eight billion
dollars doesn't equal success in my terms, not when it was
bought with crappy engineering and unethical business practices. I'd
rather be me, thank you. And, far from being any kind of socialist,
I'm a hard-core libertarian; I'm opposed to antitrust law on
pro-free-market principle, and have publicly stated that I will not
cooperate with the DOJ lawsuit.
I want to see Microsoft broken on the wheel not by government fiat
but by enlightened consumer choice. That is why I
published these documents.
If you care, you can read an
rant on my personal site that goes into more detail. Don't if
you're easily offended, and don't mistake it for a statement of OSI.
Would you please make un-annotated versions available?
No. As it is, my defense against a copyright-violation suit by
Microsoft would have to make rather creative use of the exemptions in
copyright case law relating to journalism, satire and commentary. I
fear that making un-annotated copies available would place me at
significant legal risk.
Could the leaks have been a ploy by Microsoft?
Some people have speculated that these documents were deliberately
leaked in order to strengthen Microsoft's defense in the ongoing
antitrust actions; by playing up the Linux threat (the theory goes)
they establish that Microsoft has real competition and not a
monopoly. Others posit some murky plan to divert the energy of
the open-source community into fulminating about Microsoft
and away from improving Linux.
I don't believe either theory. These documents are way too dangerous
to Microsoft to have been leaked deliberately. The material about
"de-commoditizing protocols & services" and "deny[ing] OSS products
into the market" in I and II could constitute evidence of practices which
violate the Sherman Act. There is just no way that any lawyer working
for Microsoft would ever let language like that be leaked,
especially not while the DOJ is actively pursuing an antitrust case!
Furthermore, one of my sources is a man personally known to me who
assured me he had been sitting on his copy of Halloween II for months
not knowing who to give it to until Halloween I came out.
Finally, Microsoft appears not to have had a story put
together until hours after the Halloween I release. I have an account
of this from the first reporter to brace Microsoft on the matter.
When first contacted, the author of the memoranda "refused to confirm
or deny" and directed the reporter to his boss, Ed Muth. Ed Muth,
when contacted, refused to talk about it and hung up on the reporter.
Only after two calls to Microsoft's P.R. firm was that reporter able
to get a statement.
More than one journalist has described Microsoft's initial reaction to
the publication of these documents as "utter panic ... comical to watch."
Do Halloween I and II represent Microsoft company policy?
Microsoft says not; it dismisses Halloween I and II as low-level
Yet, "Halloween I" was written by a staff engineer with
contributions, endorsements, and reviews by two Program Managers, the
Senior Vice President in charge of NT development, and two members of
the eight-person Executive Committee (Microsoft's Politburo, answering
only to Bill Gates). The only way this group could be any more
"official" is if BillG himself had been in it.
Given the participants and the content, the lack of an "official"
stamp seems more like a device for preserving plausible deniability
than anything else.
Ironically, if we take Microsoft at its word, the memos are far
more damning because that would imply a milieu in
which FUD and monopolistic dirty tricks are not merely the province of
a few top executives, but a pervasive part of the culture clear down
to the level of staff engineers.