Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft Hates Apache, Wanted to Sue It, Now Wants to Ruin It

The EEE theory

Yesterday we presented various possible explanations for Microsoft's investment in its direct competitor, Apache. It would be unnatural to believe that a commercial entity did this for goodwill alone. There is surely something to be gained; an expectation, condition, an opportunity. It is important to understand motive.

As expected, the discussion about this subject resumes, most notably in Technocrat (Bruce Perens' site). He has been pursuing this for quite some time as he hawked Apache. His immediate instinct was negative and he now shares the story about Microsoft planning to sue Apache. As a high-level official, he knew something confidential.

And then I got stuck with keeping the secret of Microsoft's plans to bring suit against Open Source developers, for years. All of that time, I felt that I was being disloyal to my own community. This finally came out after I was long gone from HP.

Microsoft backed SCO's lawsuit after releasing this information to HP.


For information about Microsoft's connection with SCO, start here. More recent developments are covered in [1, 2, 3].

The incident that Perens refers to was properly documented by Joe Barr, who was never shy to expose Microsoft's bad behaviour [1, 2, 3].

The memo -- its full text is provided later in the story, along with HP's response -- briefly explains a patent cross-licensing deal between HP and Microsoft. By itself, that's not a big deal, especially since it was sent two years ago. But the memo asserts that "Microsoft will soon be launching a patent-based legal offensive against Linux and other free software projects." Leaders in the open source community have been warning of such attacks for some time. The memo reveals there may be very good reason for the worry.


That's the same HP that now has some level of influence/control over GNOME, engages in collusion schemes with Microsoft, spreads Silverlight (i.e. poisons the open Web), promotes Microsoft Web services, and lobbies for Microsoft's OOXML, essentially intervening with a process it should stay out of.

Here comes the interesting part.

Yesterday it was argued by some people that Microsoft could or would 'extend' Apache to better suit Microsoft's business goals. Here is one newer speculation.

Ladies & Gentlemen I give you Web 2.0, the new and improved thin client cum cloud computing model where all you need to do anything is a browser and a fat pipe.

And what do browsers send GET requests to?

Penny dropping yet?

So Microsoft 7 ships with what used to be once the Berkeley TCP/IP stack for network communications and with what used to be once the Apache web server for Web 2.0, in EXACTLY the same way that Internet Explorer was bundled in the past, Web 2.0 requires a browser to be bundled with the OS and integrated into it.

When I say "Microsoft 7" I mean of course every version from Microsoft 7 Embedded to Microsoft 7 Godzilla Enterprise Server, they will all ship with the default, ooh, let's pick a catchy name, MicroSoft Internet Foundry, so default MSIE and MSIF neatly complementing each other.

By 2011 we can have MS in Court facing anti trust charges, but as with MSIE by then the damage will be done, and maybe Mitchell Baker will be doing a Marc Andressen and praising MS for embracing a Open Source code and making the net a better place.

To be fair, if MS had not embraced and extended the Berkeley TCP/IP stack the internet as we know it today would be a very different place, and that includes the Apache web server as we know it today.

In the meantime...

All your Web 2.0 are belong to us.

signed, MicroSoft.


One person who was in touch with us a few months ago predicted that Microsoft would 'extend' TCP/IP with DRM (or TPM). The DRM infrastructure and the wholly-new stack that come in Vista may only be a preparation for this. See this old article:

Researchers with Symantec's advanced threat team poked through Vista's new network stack in several recent builds of the still-under-construction operating system, and found several bugs -- some of which have been fixed, including a few in Monday's release -- as well as broader evidence that the rewrite of the networking code could easily lead to problems.


If it's not broken, why 'fix' it? Why does Microsoft rewrite the stack from scratch, possibly under the guise of "security", where security means control?

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