06.03.19

Gemini version available ♊︎

Microsoft’s Handbook: Know Your Enemies, Act Like a Friend

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 1:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger….If you’re going to kill someone, there isn’t much reason to get all worked up about it and angry. You just pull the trigger. Any discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger.”

Jim Allchin, Microsoft’s Platform Group Vice President

Summary: Microsoft’s tactics against Free/Libre/Open Source software and other competitors explained, based on its own documents and track record

A reader calling himself Ted MacReilly (we suspect this is a pseudonym) has sent us a preview of his “Handbook” titled, A Handbook for Destroying the Free Software Movement.

Citing modern events and the Halloween documents as inspiration, this quick guide explains how you as a proprietary developer or corporation can systematically reduce the growing Free Software movement to a shadow of its former self.

Techrights will publish this work in serial form, under what appears to be an MIT-like licence.

Previous: Cover and quick Introduction [PDF]

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Know your enemies– Act like a friend [PDF]

Chapter 2: Work with the system– Use OEMs and your legal team

Chapter 3: Playing the victim– Show the world that too much freedom hurts development

Chapter 4: You get what you pay for– Getting skeptics to work for you

Chapter 5: Open Source Judo– How to bribe the moderates to your side

Chapter 6: Damning with faint praise– Take the right examples of free software and exploit them for everything

Chapter 7: Patent War– Use low-quality patents to prove that all software rips off your company

Chapter 8: A foot in the door– how to train sympathetic developers and infiltrate other projects

Chapter 9: Ownership through Branding– Change the names, and change the world

Chapter 10: Moving forward– Getting the best results from Open source with your monopoly


Chapter 1

Know your enemies
Act like a friend

Great marketing is the difference between a billion-dollar company and a million-dollar company. Even if you have a great product, if people don’t know they want to buy it they might take their money elsewhere.

Like so many things, with marketing you get what you pay for. From hiring the best minds in advertising to saturating the media, a bigger budget means a bigger market for your software.

Marketing isn’t just about highlighting the good points of what you sell– it’s about inventing reasons that people want and need your product, and then convincing people of those reasons.

Of course if those reasons refer to things that are true– such as new features that actually exist, or testimonials from a few satisfied customers– those truths make it that much easier to get people to swallow whatever you made up or “exaggerated” (let’s say “dressed up”) about the product.

It’s just as important to go on the offensive about your competitors, and we will talk about that in other chapters. But a company’s image is an important part of its brand, and you want an overall positive image no matter what. No matter how much you talk about piracy, inferior products from competitors, or how unfair the antitrust laws are, you still want to appear as a confident, competent– strong vendor with a plainly superior product.

Before you go on the offensive and defend your product, you have to really sell it and make it look like a good thing.

And no matter how much you violate customer privacy, forge partnerships to shut out other competitors (especially upstarts) in the market, or do things solely for the benefit of your company at the expense of users– it is absolutely necessary to look like you care about their wants and needs.

Your brand won’t survive if you keep telling people “we spy on you, we remove features you rely on to force you to update the software you’ve grown accustomed to, we work hard and do dirty things to keep the playing field from ever becoming even or allowing a competitor the opportunity to sell you a better product.” You must look like you care. And nobody knows more about fooling people into thinking you care, than your marketing team.

As important as marketing is to keep your customers like a flock of sheep, good public relations are vital to dealing with competitors and the press.

When you fleece them, you want to always have a smile on your face– so they know you are well-intentioned and friendly.

For example, suppose you want to add a feature that tracks users across every computer they use with your software– even if they haven’t created a user account.

This feature will provide you with more data about every customer than ever before. You can then hand that data to your marketing team or even sell it to third parties, who then sell it to advertisers for companies you aren’t competing with. It also provides insight into what features of your products are most valuable to your brand.

Those are three good-business-sense reasons to include this feature (which thanks to good marketing, actually exists in a growing amount of proprietary software) but it does have its downsides– it might violate European privacy laws, or be used by oppressive governments to find and torture dissidents.

People will say these things sooner or later, but the important thing is that your brand and marketing outweigh anything said by critics.

Later we will talk about how to dismiss critics and win the press to your side. But for this chapter, the key lesson is:

Accentuate the Positive!

“Our software has new features which ensure a better experience and help us understand the changing needs of users.”

Even if several people are sharing a laptop, third parties want accurate data on each individual user. This can be spun into the usual lines about how the invasive technology is “new, innovative, unique, helpful, useful”– any good adjective you can think of– find a way to focus on how the probably-unwanted or unneeded features are something the user gains rather than loses by choosing (or remaining stuck with) your product.

Focus on your fans and sycophants in the press first– you can deal with critics later.

Demonstrating this attitude is just as important with other vendors and corporate partners, as well as customers and the press. Always put your best face forward, so this is your brand and image when it’s time to show your “good offense.”

Dealing with everyone this way first leads to trust, and trust leads to opportunities. People like to know they have a good thing, and many of them will stick with you through the hard times, once you’ve lead them through a superficially positive experience.

This is even more likely, if they have made a profit along the way. Many vendors like you, care only about the bottom line. Of course it’s a billion-dollar industry to make it look like something more than that– but that’s the point of this chapter:

If you want to have a billion-dollar company, you have to bullshit like a billion-dollar company.

We are all friends here.

And people who feel like they’re your friends will share more with you than people you treat like a competitor. It is a natural human response to let the guard down and trust people eventually. So come on, everybody– can’t we be friends?

Always remember, when you start to take advantage of your friendships and corporate partners– to do it with a smile, a friendly word, and a focus on the positive. Your smile is contagious, it’s your best asset– your sheep’s clothing. Wear it well.

You look great!

Relevant quotes from the Halloween documents:

“Sleazy behavior, covered by utterly brilliant marketing, has been a pattern in Microsoft’s business practices since they were a garage outfit running on subsidies from Bill Gates’s wealthy parents.”

“Bill Gates pretends to defend “innovation”, and if he did I’d love him for it. But there’s very little evidence that Microsoft even knows what the word means.”

“he’s conditioned computer users to expect and even love derivative, shoddily-implemented crap. Millions of people think that it’s right, it’s normal to have an operating system so fragile that it hangs crashes three or four times a week and has to be rebooted every time you change anything deeper than the wallpaper.”

From http://www.catb.org/~esr/not-the-osi/halloween-rant.html

“for Microsoft to win, the customer must lose.

“The great fear at Microsoft is that somebody will come behind them and make products that not only are more reliable, faster, and more secure, but are also easy to use, fun, and make people more productive.”

“Programs built this way look user-friendly at first sight, but turn out to be huge time and energy sinks in the longer term. They can only be sustained by carpet-bomb marketing, the main purpose of which is to delude users into believing that (a) bugs are features, or that (b) all bugs are really the stupid user’s fault, or that (c) all bugs will be abolished if the user bends over for the next upgrade.”

“Perhaps we’re fortunate that `organizational credibility’ looms so large in the Microsoft world-view.”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween1.html

“Rule One of public relations: when life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween3.html

“when Microsoft brings you flowers, they’re likely to end up decorating your
grave one way or another.”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween6.html

“Microsoft should avoid criticizing OSS and Linux directly, continue to develop and aim to eventually win the TCO argument, and focus on delivering positive Shared Source messages…”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween7.html

“Microsoft marketing is thorough and ruthlessly opportunistic. You can bet money that the reason they’re not making these arguments is because they tried them on smaller focus groups, or individually with key customers, and they didn’t fly.”

“Do I even need to point out that most of the factual claims are blatant lies brought to you by the same people who got caught faking video evidence in their Federal antitrust trial?”

“Semantic warfare — struggles over the meanings of words as proxies for political or market positions — is just like other kinds of warfare; you want to fight it on the other guy’s turf, not yours.”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween11.html

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. The Corporate Coup Against the Soul of the Free Software Community Is Not Over

    The erosion of community role in the development of GNU/Linux is a growing problem; part of the problem is that large corporations target technical and philosophical (perceived) leaders in coordinated smear campaigns, led by media they own



  2. IRC Proceedings: Friday, September 24, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, September 24, 2021



  3. Links 24/9/2021: GNU Coreutils 9.0, BattlEye GNU/Linux Support

    Links for the day



  4. [Meme] 'Linux' Foundation is Greenwashing Microsoft Again, Misusing the Linux Brand Like Nobody's Business

    Microsoft has weaponised the Linux brand to dub a toxic company like itself (helping notoriously polluting companies and generating lots of waste, both directly and through planned obsolescence, inefficient software, DRM, etc.) as "green"



  5. Richard Stallman to Speak (in Person) in Poland, Dedicate the Talk to Medical Professionals

    Days after his talk in Ukraine Richard Stallman plans to do the same in Poland (just announced)



  6. Links 24/9/2021: 30 Years of Europe’s First Root Name Server, Repairability of Laptops Discussed

    Links for the day



  7. ZDNet Has Failed

    ZDNet is on the decline and its demise appears to have greatly accelerated in recent months; we take a quick look at this month's coverage and explain the conflict of interest (it's PR, not news, and it's far too shallow/blatant to simply overlook)



  8. [Meme] Some People Are Just Above the Law

    A lot of people are still flabbergasted or at least baffled/miffed to discover that some people are in effect above the law; not even Europol and Interpol can apprehend and hold them accountable; that needs to change. Had Benoît Battistelli worked for France Télécom S.A. (not the EPO), would he be arrested? What about António Campinos and his drunk son?



  9. NPR and PBS, Both Funded by Bill Gates, Try to Save Him

    Bill Gates continues to corrupt the media and corrupt social control media (such as Twitter) using his money



  10. The EPO Must Forsake Its Diplomatic Immunity and Quit Pretending It's About Patent Law (or Any Law)

    There's no sign of the EPO actually trying to obey the law and correct the mistakes of the past; to make matters worse, the existing administration adds yet more corruption to an already-massive pile while dismissing any form of oversight



  11. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, September 23, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, September 23, 2021



  12. Links 24/9/2021: Ubuntu 21.10 Beta, Istio 1.11.3, and More Milestones for Steam Deck

    Links for the day



  13. [Meme] President Campinos Addresses the Legacy of Battistelli's “Strike Regulations”

    A sequence of four EPO memes about those infamous and unlawful “strike regulations” that Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos have exploited to abuse thousands of workers



  14. [Meme] Bill Gates Keeps Digging Himself Deeper in the Grave Each Time He Speaks

    These sorts of ‘interviews’ with Gates’ own propaganda mills (he also pays Twitter now) aren’t going to improve his image; people aren’t infinitely gullible (Source)



  15. Linux Foundation and Other 'Diploma Mills' Say There's Demand for Their Products in Their New 'Research' (Marketing)

    The so-called ‘Linux’ Foundation (LF), together with edX, are basically marketing their services and products, but this is disguised as 'research' (a false narrative widely parroted by shallow and paid-for media partners of theirs), piggybacking brands like “Linux” and buzzwords like “Open Source” (even when they promote proprietary things, e.g. memorisation of proprietary GUIs)



  16. [Meme] The EPO's Carte Blanche and 'Diplomatic Immunity' Card

    EPO staff is being taken for another ride by António Campinos and his cohorts, whose popularity among staff has likely gone down to sub-zero levels already (even faster than Benoît Battistelli)



  17. As Expected, Minimal Pseudo Compliance From EPO Management, Adding Insult to Injury

    SUEPO Central, the core of the staff union of EPO staff (almost 7,000 workers at the EPO, most of whom are SUEPO members), has strong words about the EPO's attitude and stance, which is perhaps unsurprising but still extremely disappointing



  18. Links 23/9/2021: PostgreSQL 14 RC 1 and MidnightBSD 2.1

    Links for the day



  19. Links 23/9/2021: More UPC PR Stunts and IBM (Poettering) TPM for Linux

    Links for the day



  20. The EPO is on the Run (Escaping Negative Press Coverage)

    Aside from tens of millions of euros granted to media and academia (to keep them complicit or silent about EPO corruption, which also implicates the EU) there’s also SLAPP and threats against staff representatives; but Members of the European Parliament are becoming interested in what’s really going on in Europe’s second-largest institution, so this utter waste of EPO money (manipulating the press and gaming universities’ research) might in itself become a scandal sooner or later



  21. [Meme] Lowering the Standards...

    It's time for another round of fluff at the EPO, this time without even travelling (PR-over-'ViCo')



  22. Gemini HTTP/HTML/Web Proxies and Self-Hosting Your Own Proxy

    Gemini protocol (gemini://) and the fast-growing Geminispace (expected to exceed 2,000 known capsules by year’s end, in effect quadrupling in a single year!) are possible to access using Web browsers, at least for those who do not have Gemini clients/browsers just yet; today we examine and give an outline of the options



  23. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, September 22, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, September 22, 2021



  24. Links 23/9/2021: GNU Parallel 20210922, Moroccan Propaganda From EPO

    Links for the day



  25. Links 22/9/2021: Google 'Upstream First' in Linux and New Maui Report

    Links for the day



  26. Links 22/9/2021: Mesa 21.2.2, GNOME 41 Released

    Links for the day



  27. Socially- or Corporate- or Centrally-Controlled Surveillance, Censorship and Throttling is Not Media

    The 'social control media' situation is getting out of hand; in YouTube, for example, there's a broad revolt against strict editorial control by Google and in Twitter it seems like ordinary users aren't shown so much to people who actually "follow" them



  28. Links 22/9/2021: Panfrost's OpenGL ES 3.1 Conformanc and NovProg 3.2.0

    Links for the day



  29. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, September 21, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, September 21, 2021



  30. Agents of Monopoly: WIPO is Lobbying for or Reinforcing Microsoft Monopoly by Pushing Its Proprietary Software and Formats

    The World Intellectual Property [sic] Organization — like the EPO (where António Campinos outsourced IT systems to Microsoft) — is choosing the most notorious/corrupt ‘tech’ ‘company’ (cult) instead of open standards and, as the links above show, this is nowadays done inside the United States and outside the United States as well, raising legal questions/ire


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts