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Microsoft Against Standards: So Many Years, So Little Change

Posted in Antitrust, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, Standard at 6:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

New off the boiling plate from the Comes vs Microsoft trial in Iowa…

Thanks to an anonymous friend, we finally have this OCR-ed court exhibit [large PDF] (66 pages) and a plain text version of it. As a teaser, below you’ll find some text which was extracted from the large document.

There was Microsoft chart, but we don’t sell it independently it always comes with Word and Excel and then so on. And so there are a whole bunch of other separate companies that have charting applications: Jendel Scientific and Deltapoint, and so forth. They do nothing but charting. And so I went to the various ISVs and said, “How would you like to all work together to form a standard charting-OLE interface for both, you know, custom interfaces and OLE automation interfaces?” And they said, “Great! Great!” But of course it only matters if Excel participates, because if Microsoft Office doesn’t use that charting interface, it really doesn’t matter. So I went to the Excel guys, which is what I had expected to do, and said specifically to…I can’t remember the guy’s name, the guy in Chart who was in charge of charting, “Hey, how would you like to standardize this stuff and work with these ISVs and make it a standard?” And his answer was very simple. He said, “Why should I work with~anyone outside the company to make their products better because all it’s going to do is help them sell copies that could otherwise be a Microsoft copy? Any money they’re making they can sell…they can spend on improving their product and staying in existence, and making it harder for us to do well. My job is to make Excel basically, like, the only application in the world. And if it doesn’t add money to my bottom line, then there’s no point in my spending any cycles on it”…

Does this remind anyone of Microsoft’s attitude towards OpenDocument format?

There is a great deal one can find among the exhibits. You may also recall some older exhibits such as this one [compressed PDF].

[Microsoft:] “…we should take the lead in establishing a common approach to UI and to interoperability (of which OLE is only a part). Our efforts to date are focussed too much on our own apps, and only incidentally on the rest of the industry. We want to own these standards, so we should not participate in standards groups. Rather, we should call ‘to me’ to the industry and set a standard that works now and is for everyone’s benefit. We are large enough that this can work.”

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  1. Jared Spurbeck said,

    August 20, 2007 at 10:13 am


    You’d think that this would be obvious, given their history. It seems to be trendy to talk about working together with Microsoft nowadays, though. Many thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  2. MattD said,

    August 20, 2007 at 11:57 am


    Roy, do you or anyone else know of a site that has documented Microsoft’s history regarding standards as well as the practice of breaking compatibility? There’s a ton of info out there but it’s all over the place.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 20, 2007 at 4:33 pm


    MattD, Rob Weir had a nice chart (timeline), but I’m not aware of a site which is dedicated to recording Microsoft’s track record when it comes to standards. I have also received the following some hours ago (via E-mail):

    I read your update on boycottNovell.com. Here is something of interest from PDF Page 33. Please note the marked text “open.doc” (it may not line up if your text is uniform spaced):

    They also have the patina of objectivity: this very thin layer, they can say, I don’t work for Microsoft, I’m not just spouting the Microsoft party line, but…hcre’s the Microsoft party line, OK? So, a very thin appearance of objectivity. Contract programming houses are the same way. If you need some sample code written, or a book or an article, or anything like that, for God’s sake don’t write it yourself. Get them to do it, because then you can do something else, like getting somebody else to do part of your work for you. It’s not only frees you up to do something else, it’s getting them to do something so that now they’re committed to it, right? They’ve written this book on OLE. They’ve learned a lot about OLE. If that doesn’t pay off for them, then they’re losing all that time, so it’s in their interest to stomp open.doc into the ground and to make OLE successful, tight? You want to get these people bought into stuff. You do that by throwing business their way.

    I thought it rather interesting he should discuss the “Microsoft party line”.

    By the way, the above PDF turns out to be PX_2456.pdf.

    There is also this other interesting exhibit [PDF]:

    From: Bill Gates Sent: Saturday, December 05, 1998 9:44 AM
    To: Bob Muglia (Exchange); Jon DeVaan; Steven Sinofsky
    Cc: Paul Mariz
    Subject: Office rendering

    One thing we have got to change is our strategy — allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by OTHER PEOPLES BROWSERS is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company.

    We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on PROPRIETARY IE capabilities.

    Anything else is suicide for our platform. This is a case where Office has to to destroy Windows.

    It might be worth categorising and organising some of this material.

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