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The History of Microsoft's Multi-boot Sabotage

"I’d be glad to help tilt lotus into into the death spiral. I could do it Friday afternoon but not Saturday. I could do it pretty much any time the following week."

--Brad Silverberg, Microsoft

It's no secret that Microsoft is nuking GNU/Linux partitions/boot tables, by design. While we lack correspondence to show this was deliberate and malicious, antitrust evidence provides precedence that relates to a similar strategy from the nineties.

As a little bit of essential background, here are some articles of interesting that refer to Windows Vista (and most likely Vista 7 too):

1. Vista SP1 won't install on dual-boot systems: Microsoft

If you’re dualbooting Windows Vista Enterprise or Ultimate alongside a Linux distro, and have installed the Linux bootloader into the MBR, then you’re guaranteed to run into problems when installing Vista Service Pack 1, Microsoft has admitted.

2. Geek in Paradise - Vista Upgrade

As the HP Advisor disc was in the process of finishing, the machine froze solid. After giving it 5 minutes of no disk activity, I reset the machine to be greeted by a lovely blinking cursor. I put the Vista disc in and booted into a repair installation, where I ran the Repair tool. My hunch was proved correct when it returned a corrupted MBR, which it had fixed. Thinking all was well, I rebooted to be greeted with a black screen (no blinking cursor). Well, there's something more going on so I rebooted into the repair tool and let it do it's thing. This time, it found a Corrupted Partition table which it then said it repaired. Awesome! Next reboot was greeted by the same black screen, so I figured the other partition was corrupt as well and let the repair tool run again and fix the partition table again. Reboot, same thing...

3. Vista scoots to new boot, but it's still kinda rooted

While Microsoft would like the world to believe that anyone running Windows has no need of any other operating system, that attitude doesn't cut much mustard with many of its users. Why settle for one OS when your PC is easily capable of running two or more?


One of the more questionable tactics that Microsoft has implemented in Vista is to automatically overwrite any existing MBR during the installation process without asking if you mind or giving you an option to back up.

Microsoft says that the Windows installation system can't intelligently interrogate an existing non-MS MBR, although such features are quite common in the install routine for other OSes.

It also argues that an "official" Vista MBR is required for security features -- such as measured boot, which works with Trusted Platform Module (TPM)-enabled chips to check that the OS hasn't been hacked or altered each time it boots -- to work correctly.

There are many more articles just like these, but that's not the point. We are more interested in the developments behind the scenes, and particularly Microsoft's approach towards situations as such.

Today we look at Exhibit px09040 from Comes vs Microsoft [PDF]. Herein, Microsoft prefers to "disable OS/2 in ALL cases."

We also add a presentation about OS/2, courtesy of Steve Ballmer. Combined, these two antitrust exhibits show that Microsoft thought OS/2 was much better than windows and considered sabotage to compete, much as they did with DR-DOS. Steve Ballmer sang OS/2's praises for a duration of 14 pages, as shown in Exhibit PX08112 [PDF], but here is what they did:

In all cases I can think of now, Janus [multiboot tool being written by the author] will blow away the OS/2 sys files and render OS/2 useless.

Question: do we care about this? This is WAR, and in that regard, I believe we should design Janus such that if this multiboot partition (has a unique partition number (11)) is found, we should warn the user a foreign OS has been detected, give them a chance to exit and read the docs and possibly make a backup, and then repartition the disk, removing the multiboot partition. This way, we disable OS/2 2.0 in *all* cases.

Mind the phrase "This is WAR" (capital letters in the original too). This is an exact copy of the "Microsoft evangelist" guidebook, which uses capital letters in the phrase "Evangelism is WAR!"

“It was an entirely different story when Steve Ballmer was singing praises about O/S, saying that "OS/2 will feed off Windows success."”The complete text has grousing about "feature creep" that drips with resentment for doing anything positive for the customer while trying to justify a "batch mode" for OS installation. They probably would not have thought of this feature had OS/2 not already been doing the same..

Brad Silverberg and Jim Allchin too were involved in these tactics (albeit at a higher level), as we showed in the past. Here is an exact copy of some offending code.

It was an entirely different story when Steve Ballmer was singing praises about the O/S, saying that "OS/2 will feed off Windows success." His presentation (with handwritten notes) [PDF] has textual copy in the appendix below, but here is one highlight from his talk.

0S/2 Momentum: Role of Microsoft Windows

o The 0S/2 user Interface is the most popular graphical user interface in the world today {CUA on DOS}

o The compatibility of the user interface across Windows and 0S/2 makes it possible to develop common DOS and OS/2 based applications {eases fear of transition - large brokerage example}

o Largest base of graphical applications is portable (and being ported to) 0S/2

{OS/2 will feed off Windows success}

In the appendix, one cannot really see Ballmer's handwritten notes, but the PDF, which includes initial and rudimentary OCR output, is worth seeing. How quickly they back-stabbed a so-called 'partner'. We remarked on OS/2 in the past (mostly Microsoft's dirty war against it, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14]) and we are likely to do so in the future. We have many dozens of 'smoking guns' in the pipeline.

Appendix: Comes vs. Microsoft - exhibit PX08112, as text

0S/2: Microsoft's View

Steve Ballmer Vice President, Systems Software Microsoft Corporation

{ -Introduce myself -Thank IBM -Joke about dinner kitty thelay -Being hot the presentor -Market position, key improvements }

OS/2 Success Factors o Momentum: Critical mass of binary compatible Installations o Microsoft and IBM commitment to the product o Technical strength

{ OS/2 the successor to DOS in bus. DOS + OS/2 > 85% In 91 OS/2>DOS. To understand we need. -technical strength (new apts) -momentum -commitment }

0S/2: Technical Strength

o Pre-emptively scheduled kernel supporting multiple concurrent tasks and multiple threads of execution {servers, sophisticated workstations more dogs that don't bark} o Advanced memory management an dinter-process communication facilities {bigger, more complex, richer interation between apps} o Extensible system services via use of dynamic link libraries {subsystems, reusable pieces, value added} o Integrated graphical user interface {next generation, depend on it, lower barrier horizontal} o Advanced networking support {workgroup apps - Notes/Office - E1, E2, E3 demo}

OS/2 Momentum

DOS thdved due to Microsoft, IBM and third pady industry support

o OEM support

o DOS - 118 {some bankrupt} o 0S/2 - 55 {and growing}

o ISVs

o DOS -2320 o 0S/2 - 200 (companies with 0S/2 products announced) {7 1/2 years > 20 MMillion}

This includes the Industry leading ISVs: Aldus, Ashton-Tate, Borland, Computer Associates, DCA, Digital Research, €¯ Informix, Lattice, Micrografx, Microrlm, Novell, Oracle, Software Publishing, T/Maker, Versacad, Word Perfect

0S/2 momentum is better than DOS at year one {Q1 big by Q4}

{The successor IHV's.}

0S/2 Momentum: Role of Microsoft Windows

o The 0S/2 user Interface is the most popular graphical user interface in the world today {CUA on DOS}

o The compatibility of the user interface across Windows and 0S/2 makes it possible to develop common DOS and OS/2 based applications {eases fear of transition - large brokerage example}

o Largest base of graphical applications is portable (and being ported to) 0S/2

{OS/2 will feed off Windows success}

Microsoft and IBM Commitment

o Identical OS/2 version 1.1 products {- well tested and released [garbled]}

o Open architecture:

o Programmatic interface {no binary Unto} o Device drivers o Fonts o Data interchange protoccols {explain. most other}

o Refinement

o Speed o Size o Useability {People like speed Explain size.}

o Enhancement

o New features o Hardware support {Here we go}

{Key. People make investments. Want to know they have committed partners}

The future for 0S/2

o Filesystem improvements o Support of 386 processor o Imaging model o Networking o Object oriented enhancements o Multi-processor support

Filesystem Improvements

o Performance improvements:

o file access o smart caching {no need to be propietery to be great}

o Media access improvements: o larger disk volumes o standardised access to different media types (e.g. CD ROM) o long filenames and extended file attributes (e.g. 'author name', 'revision date') {Browsing ISU's. Key}

o Both are important initially for network server and later for object oriented systems

{Usability [up arrows] Filesystem is most popular for reworking Better database with EA's will go distributed Database/Filesystem will be key }

o Support of 386 Processor {Unix ports no new app types 0:32}

o Full binary compatibility: all existing O8/2 applications will run unchanged {Highlight}

o API enhancements: o Access to 32-bit linear address space

o System enhancements: o Demand paged virtual memory. {Benefits 286 apps}

o End user enhancements o Multiple DOS sessions

{tool ect this year Portable API}

Imaging Model

o 0S/2 today has an open architecture for fonts and rendering. This encourages third parties to provide products for specialised applications:

o High quality phototypesetting o Image capture

o 0S/2 today has a very high quality "graphics engine", comparable to or better than any other product. The graphics services are available to all appitcation programmers.

There is a need to provide higher level tools for creation and manipulation of graphics objects.

o 0S/2 today has the screen imaging model and can support printed output in various ways: Postscript, HP PCL, other raster and vector such as dot matrix printers, plotters and film recorders. {Not [garbled] Integrated w/OS does not interject new constraints clipping Font algorithms}

Some applications (e,g. desktop publishing) benefit from a single model for both screen and printer.

Printer manufacturers will build Presentation Manager printers which support this. {Future}


o MS OS/2 LAN Manager version 1.0 now shipping

o High performance network server {Campse?} o Shared file access across network o Suitable for client/server applications allowing distributed processing {Named pipes LAN APIs}

o Interoperable with IBM LAN Server version 1.0 {RLP go through case}

o Planned enhancements: {Pinball} o Name service o Securtty services {Explain} o Additional RPC and program to program communication support {CPIC & RPC compilers} o Improvement of transport efficiency {Net beni & others.}

Object Oriented Enhancements

Problem statement:

Today’s applications do not offer the consistency and flexibility needed to increase end user productivity.

Application development is becoming increasingly more difficult as the computing environment becomes more complex.

Requirements statement:

Provide an environment in which users can control multiple applications, combine applications and interchange a wide range of information between them.

Provide an environment wherein applications can act as extensions of the OS and provide future podability by virtue of this extensibility. {Key}

Supporting an object oriented system:

Support for objects in development tools (methods, classes, ....) {C#} Support for objects in the user Interface (direct manipulation, "drag and drop") {-Factry -Sample by -Visual objects -cut} Support for application images and data flies as objects within the filesystem and across the network {-loader -OOFS (build on filesystem) -Control language -Protocols {Builds off object oriented messaging made of PM.}


Providing a true object oriented system is a large and complex problem which impacts all aspects of systems software.

OS/2 and its associated tools is a great platform on which to build this. {Will take time but is evolutionary}

Multi-processor Support

o Need to provide for both general and special purpose solutions:

o General purpose scalable solution utilising one to N similar processors:

o Same operation on N processors as on one processor, albeit with different performance o Hardware manufacturer has a flexible choice of product configurations

o Special purpose

o Co-processor dedicated to specific function (e.g. filesystem support)

o Multi-processor systems are initially important for use as high performance network servers {Explain numerics or other coprocessor File/Database service -File system/Database -Driver (Net, Disk} -Server -Cache Virtual coprocessor design allows off loading}


o 0S/2 has early critical momentum o Planned enhancements will consistently improve end user and developer benefits

o 0S/2 is a great foundation for technology innovation

0S/2: The natural successor to DOS

[note that all pages were marked with the following]

X 174474 CONFIDENTIAL 12025986

Microsoft Presentation IBM Hursley Laboratory, December 14 1988


Appendix: Comes vs. Microsoft - exhibit PX09040, as text

with delivering this product in March.

Easy Janus, on the other hand, won't be a reality until May-ish. There are some issues regarding documentation resources that need to be battled in order for this product to make it.

From: bent Fri Jan 10 13:08:12 1992 To: philba Subject: Re: Yasukoh Date: Tue Feb 23 22:08:39 PDT 1993

Any news about Yasukoh? Thanks.

From Philba Mon Jan 6 11:00:20 1992 To: bent nancyla Subject: Re Yasukoh Date: Mon, 06 Jan 92 10:58:52 PST

we are working the issue now. ryoji has tentatively agreed to give us a headcount so it shouldn't be a problem but there are still issues to clear before it happens. I hope to have a final answer this week. OK?

Fro:m johnpa Fri Jan 10 14:07:15 1992 To: Philba Cc: jonpa Subject: 2 issues to think about (long) Date: Tue Feb 23 22:08:39 PDT 1993

There are two Janus design/spec issues I would like your help in resolving:

1. Disable Multiboot? I went over os/2 2.0 setup this morning with dougho. As you probably know, OS/2 2.0 has a partition based boot manager called multiboot. Dougo doesn't think they will install or use it unless there is more than one partition. However, if I was IBM and had decided to bundle OS2 2.0 with PS/2's and then I somehow learned about Janus, I would configure them with 2 partitions, this multiboot utility, put OS/2 on drive d: and make c: FAT. This way, Janus will default to the "non-upgrade case, find c:, and install both MS DOS and Win on C:. However, the multiboot utility would then allow the user to run either MS DOS on c: or OS/2 on d: at each reboot. In all other cases I can think of now, Janus will blow away the OS/2 sys files and render OS/2 useless.

Question: do we care about this? This is WAR, and in that regard, I believe we should design Janus such that if this multiboot partition (has a unique partition number (11)) is found we should warn the user a foreign OS has been detected, give them a chance to exit and read the docs and possibly make a backup, and then repartition the disk, removing the multiboot partition. This way, we disable OS/2 2.0 in *all* cases.

Moreover, how many customers are really going to want both? I say very few, and frankly, those that don't want both will be confused by this multiboot screen-- they thought they just installed MS DOS and Windows, right?

WinMail 1.21 philba Tue Feb 23 22:03:01 1993

This would only affect the "non-install" case.

2. Batch Mode setup? OS/2 2.0 setup has a batch mode which disables all UI except for floppy disk prompts, if using floppies--their PS/2 mod 57, multimedia version, has a CD ROM drive which can be used to batch install OS/2 2.0. They don't use a command switch for batch install since they are booting off disk 1, rather the setup program simply goes out and looks at every logical volume for the presence of the batch setup file. If found, setup uses batch mode. This only has limited usefulness in the current setup because their current setup program will not make use of previous OS file services. That is, if the machine has DOS or OS/2 (2.0) with network support, the OS/2 2.0 setup does not have the ability to access net volumes. Also currently, you must install an OS/2 2.0 net AFTER os/2 has been installed ....although if customers scream loud enough, they may come out with a different version after initial ship according to dougo.

Shifting gears and thinking about corp account customers, I believe a batch setup for janus would be very valuable. We can discuss this at length if you wish, but briefly, corp accounts have a difficult time installing and/or upgrading MS DOS and Windows. If we restrict ourselves to the upgrade case, then I argue that giving them a way to batch upgrade both MS DOS and Win 3.1 over a net would be very valuable.

Question: should we offer a batch mode upgrade for Janus? I think we should, mostly because I predict Janus will be very popular with corp accounts and such a feature will be very valuable to them. Partly because OS/2 2.0 has some kind of batch install, limited as it is.

This is feature creep, but I have looked at it and don't think it will take that much work and Davebe has already told me he is willing to do th work. Bradsi told us to "make Janus great" --batch install would certainly be a tangible improvement!

If you agree, we can also consider this for the non-install case. I am not sure how big a problem this case really is for corp accounts--would need to get some data.

Let me know what you think about these two issues. I will be working on the spec the rest of the day...



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