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Computer History Development Timeline: Microsoft Perspective

Summary: A reader's document on history (based on assorted sources)

Quick Timeline

1000: The abacus gained widespread acceptance in Europe. 1617: John Napier, discoverer of logarithms, invented a calculating device based on them called Napier's Bones. 1622: William Oughtred invented the slide rule, based on Napier's work with logarithms. The slide rule is an "analog" computer and served as the primary computing device for engineers until 1972. Oughtred's was circular, but here's a straight on by Robert Bissaker (1654). 1623: Wilhelm Schickard of Tuebingen, Wuerttemberg (now part of Germany), produced a 6-digit machine called the "Calculating Clock". It can add and subtract and indicates overflow by ringing a bell (allowing 7-digit calculations by counting the overflow). The device was reconstructed in 1960 and found to work. 1644: Blaise Pascal created a 5-digit calculator, the "Pascaline", but it cannot subtract and is more complex than Schickard's machine. Pascal sold somewhere between 10 and 15 of these machines, some capable of 8 digits. 1668: Sir Samuel Morland of England created a non-decimal adding machine designed to do calculations in English currency. 1674: Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz of Leipzig designed the "Stepped Reckoner" which could handly operands of 5 and 12 digits with products of up to 16 digits. Unfortunately the carry mechanism sometimes didn't work right. 1770: (or thereabouts) Mathieus Hahn, somewhere in Germany, produces a successful multiplying calculator. 1775: Charles, third Earl of Stanhope, in England, made a successful multiplying calculator similar to Leibniz's. 1786: J. H. Mueller of the Hessian army creates a design for the type of machine later known as a "difference engine" (see 1842, Babbage and Ada) which calculates values of a polynomial. Mueller couldn't get it funded so it wasn't built. 1801: The Jaquard loom used an automatic punch card reader to "program" fabric patterns. 1820: The first commercially available calculator, the Arithmometer, was produced by Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar of France. The user dialed numbers with a set of wheels, then pulled a crank to do the calculation. It could add, subtract, multiply and divide. Machines of this design were sold for nearly 90 years. 1832-1871: Charles Babbage and Ada, Countess of Lovelace had a lot of fun not quite getting around to completing the Difference Engine, the first (mechanical) programmable computer. Others did complete such machines based on their work. 1854: George Boole invented Boolean Algebra, the binary logic used by all digital computers. 1884: John H. Patterson founded National Cash Register Comapny (NCR). NCR's transaction recording devices soon became the scourge of sales clerks everywhere, forcing them to invent new methods for theft, fraud and embezzlement. ( NCR Timeline). 1885: William Burroughs patented an adding machine and founded the American Arithmometer Company, which was renamed Boroughs Adding Machine Company in 1898. Bouroughs entered the computer business in the 1950s. 1886: Dor E. Felt produces the "Comptometer" desk calculator. This calculator enters numbers by pressing keys rather than turning dials. 1889: Dor E. Felt adds a printer to his Comptometer desk calculator. 1890: To process information from the 1890 census, Herman Hollerith invented a system of punch cards (see 1801) sized to fit the currency handling equipment used in banks, thus setting the dimensions of the data processing punch card (the dollar was bigger then). This project evolved into the Tabulating Machine Company, which merged into the Computing-Tabulating-Recording company in 1911. 1903: Nutcase inventor Nikola Tesla patented electrical logic circuits called "gates" which implemented Boolean Algebra in physical form. Digital computers are built almost entirely from transistorized versions of these "logic gates". Other Tesla inventions include the entire AC power distribution system, florescent lights, high voltage transformers, induction motors, wireless communications (radio), telephone repeaters and other minor items, most of which someone else took credit for. 1911 June: Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company was formed by Computing Scale Company of America, Tabulating Machine Company and International Time Recording Company. 1914: Thomas J. Watson took over Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company and gave it a new mission: "Crush National Cash Register Co." (NCR had fired Watson). 1924: Computing Tabulating Recording Company was renamed International Business Machines (IBM) by Thomas J. Watson. 1935: Konrad Zuse built the relay based Z1 electrical computer in his parents living room. It was followed by the Z2 in 1938. Zuse invented the world's first programming language (Plankalkul) for the Z3 in 1946. He reconstructed the Z4 in Switzerland after the war. Because he was on the wrong side of the war his machines are not counted in the "official" history of computers (except in Germany). His computer company was absorbed by Siemens Corporation. 1935: The Manchester Differential Analyser, an analog computer, was completed to calculate differential equations. 1935: IBM produces the IBM 601 punch card based tabulator capable of doing 1 multiplication per second. 1500 of them were built. 1939: Hewlett-Packard Company founded by David Packard and William Hewlett, headquartered in Hewlett's Palto Alto garage. 1939: John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry of Iowa State University began work on the Atanasoff-Berry computer. Atanasoff was judged by the U.S. Supreme Court to be the true inventor of the electronic computer (see also Konrad Zuse, 1935). 1940: George Stibitz of Bell Labs developed a digital calculator from metal strips (from a tobacco can), batteries and flashlight bulbs. This machine, called the Model I Complex Calculator, was in service for 9 years. 1941: John Mauchly and Presper Eckert of the University of Pennsylvania began construction of an electronic digital computer. 1943: Colossus, an electronic digital computer, was built in England to break German codes. 1944: Mark I, the first general purpose digital computer (unless you count certain others) was built at Harvard under the direction of Howard Aiken. the Mark I was used by the Navy for ballistic calculations. 1945: Navy Lieutenant JG Grace Hopper (later Admiral Grace Hopper) finds a bug (moth) caught in relay contacts of the Mark II computer, causing a malfunction. This is not the origin of the term "bug" in technology. The term was mentioned by Thomas Edison in a way implying it had been long in use then. This may, however, be the first recorded case of a bug being caused by an actual bug. 1946: ENIAC, the first fully electronic digital computer used 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert Jr and John Mauchly at the University of Pennsylvania. 1947: The Transistor was invented by Walter Brattain and William Shockley. 1948: An Wang invents core memory. This randomly accessible memory (RAM) is composed of a mesh of wires with little magnetic donuts at the intersections. This type of memory is "non volatile" (it doesn't go away when the power is off) and is, in 2001, making a comeback, but on a microscopic scale. 1948: John Mauchly and Prsper Eckert found the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Comapny and start work on UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer). 1948: The first computer with memory, the Ferranti Mark I, is deigned at Manchester University by Frederic Williams and Thomas Kilburn. 1948 Fall: IBM produces the "IBM 604", a plugboard programmed calculator using vacuum tubes. 1949-1951: Jay W Foreester and an MIT team construct "Whirlwind" for the US Navy Research Office. Features are brought on line over a period of years. 1950: The Ace Pilot Model 1950 was built at the National Physics Laboratory of England, based on the work of Alan Turing, and was in operation for scientific calculations for x6 years. 1950: Western Electric developed growing large single crystals of silicon which could be sliced into wafers - the basic building material for integrated circuits. 1951: UNIVAC, the first commercial computer (unless it was Feranti's) was shipped by Remington Rand. It used mercury delay lines for memory and reels of magnetic tape for storage. It's first use was to tabulate the 1950 census results. 1951: Feranti Ltd. completes the first commercial computer (unless it was UNIVAC). It was based on the "Feranti Mark I" but was also known as the "Manchester Mark II", "MUDC", "MUEDC", and "MADAM". They sold 8 of these even though the leading expert, Douglas Hartree, had assured them 3 existing computers would handle all the calculations that would ever be needed in England. 1952: Grace Murray Hopper (U.S. Navy Retired) developed the first operational compiler. A compiler converts a human written program into machine code. 1952: IBM enters the computer business with the "701" 1952: IBM introduces the first magnetic tape drive for on-line data storage, the 726. It used 8" diameter reels of tape holding about 1 Megabyte, or the contents of about 12,500 punch cards. IBM was producing 16 Billion punch cards per year in 1952. 1953: IBM introduced the 701, its first electronic computer. 1957: Control Data formed to produce supercomputers. Seymour Cray was the designer. 1957: Digital Equipment Corp. founded by Keneth Olsen with $70,000. The leading producer "Minicomputers", DEC became the second largest computer company in the 1970s. Ken Olsen made the famous statement "There will never be a use for a computer in the home". Completely missing the PC revolution, DEC declined and was bought and disbanded by PC maker Compaq in 1998. 1957: Grace Hopper developed the Flowmatic computer language for the UNIVAC 1. Flowmatic was the foundation from which COBOL was developed (1959). 1957: John Backus at IBM developed the Fortran compiler for the IBM 704. 1958: The integrated circuit is invented by Jack St. Clair Kilby of Texas Instruments, beating Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor who independently invented one in 1959. Noyce went on to cofound Intel. 1959: Grace Hopper and her Codasyl co-workers issue the first COBOL compiler, a programming language for business use. 1960: IBM shiped the 1401, its first transistor based computer. 1963: Douglas Engelbart patents the mouse. 1964 : BASIC computer programing language was developed by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz (no, Bill Gates didn't invent BASIC, sorry). 1964: TTL integrated circuits were introduced by TRW. 1964: IBM started shipping the 360 line of mainframe computers. 1965: Digital Equipment produced the first PDP-8 minicomputer, the first production computer to use integrated circuits. 1965: Work begun at Honeywell on Multics, the operating system Unix was derived from. 1966: ARPAnet was proposed (the first stirrings of the Internet). 1967: IBM built the first floppy disk drives (8" SSSD, 256K). 1968: HAL 9000, the computer in the movie "2001: A Space Odessy" uttered the famous words "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that." 1969: ARPAnet was launched (the birth of the Internet, and the IP network protocol). 1969: The first version of Unix was written by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie to run at Bell Labs on a Digitial Equipment PDP-11. 1971: Intel introduced the first microprocessor chip, the 4004, bringing to the world 4-bit power! 1972: Hewlett Packard released the HP-35 electronic calculator. The sliderule was rendered obsolete overnight, and "Reverse Polish Notation" became the standard for engineering calculators. 1973: Xerox demonstrated the Xerox Alto, the first computer to use a graphical display and mouse pointer. 1973: Ethernet was developed by Bob Metcalfe, Butler Lampson, David Boggs and Chuck Thacker. 1974: The TCP part of the TCP/IP protocol stack was proposed by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn to bring reliable transmission to the Internet. 1974: Gary Kildall developed CP/M , the first standard operating system for microcomputers . CP/M was the operating system Bill Gates bought a rip-off of to create MS-DOS in 1981. 1974: The C programming language was developed by Brian Kerrighan and Dennis Ritchie. 1974 December: The MITS Altair launched the PC revolution. 1975: Bill Gates and Paul Allen "borrowed" computer time to produce a rip-off of the BASIC computer language (see 1964) for the MITS Altair. The product was announced and advertisements placed before work began to keep others from entering the market. It was expensive, released late, incomplete and riddled with bugs. When copies were passed around by users trying to come up with bug fixes (and who were reluctant to spend a lot of money for something that didn't work), Bill Gates accused them all of "Software Piracy". Thus we find the tone of Microsoft's ethics, business practices, product quality, and attitude toward users (they're all thieves) already fully formed in the first weeks of the company's existence. 1975: The world's first retail computer store, Arrow Head Computer Company, opened in Los Angeles. 1976 April: Steve Wosniac and Steve Jobs finished the Apple I computer and formed the Apple Computer Company. 1977: IBM developed the first relational database program. 1977: Apple launched the Apple II computer. 1977: Commodore exhibited the PET computer. 1977: Radio Shack shipped the first TRS-80 Model I, launching a line of computers known (affectionately or otherwise) as the "Trash 80". 1978: Digital Equipment put pressure on the mainframe with the VAX 11/780 minicomputer running the VMS operating system. 1978: Dennis Hayes started shipping the first "Hayes compatible" modem. 300-baud. Alas, poor Dennis, he continued to sell "brand name" into what had become a comodity market, and went belly up in 1998. 1979: The WordStar word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet were released, launching the desktop PC into the business world. 1980: Seagate ships the first Winchester (sealed) 5" hard disk - 5-Meg, $600. 1980: Xerox's Smalltalk-80 programming language ushered in the concepts of Object Oriented Programming in a graphic environment. 1980: Novell founded. 1981: Microsoft licensed MS-DOS to IBM. Microsoft purchased QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System) from Tim Patterson of Seattle Computers and repackaged it as MS-DOS. IBM had to do a lot of the finish work because Microsoft lacked operating system skills. [The stories say Bill Gates' mother helped this deal because she knew someone at IBM] 1981: Adam Osborne ships the Osborne 1 portable ("sewing machine", 24-pounds) computer running CP/M. 1981: Bill Gates saw a demonstration of Visi On, a windowing environment by Visi Corp, and it scared him silly. Microsoft immediately began work on "Interface Manager", later renamed "Windows". 1981 August: IBM shipped the IBM PC based on the Intel 8088 8-bit microprocessor chip, which IBM was pleased to advertise as a 16-bit chip. Intel's president remarked that the first he knew the 8088 was a 16-bit chip was when he read an IBM ad in an airline magazine. 1981 November: Ashton-Tate repackaged Wayne Ratliff's Vulcan database program as dBase II, bringing relational database technology to the PC. There was never a dBase I, nor an Ashton, nor a Tate, (though a parrot was later named Ashton) bringing deceptive product naming to the PC. Ed Esber brought real MBA style business management to the company, destroying it completely. The parrot died and Ashton-Tate was sold to Borland, where dBase died. 1982 February: Intel released the 286 CPU chip at 6-MHz 1982: The KayPro II portable computer ("sewing machine", 24-pounds) running CP/M was released by Non-Linear Systems. 1982: Digital Research sued Microsoft and IBM over copyright infringement. Gary Kildall sat down at a fresh IBM PC, typed a few keystrokes and popped up a Digital Research copyright notice. This impressed the Judge. DR won the case, monetary damages, and the right to clone MS-DOS. Microsoft won a gag oder to make sure the public never heard about this case. 1982: The first clones of the IBM PC appeared. Because they copied the BIOS program, IBM hauled them into court and destroyed most of them. 1983: OK, I'm still looking for the details on this. Some big exec (was it Esber?) said "Ashton-Tate has the database, MicroPro (WordStar) has the Word Processor, Visi Corp has the spreadsheet. There is no room for any new software companies." 1983: Compaq brought out the first portable IBM PC compatible ("sewing machine" 30 pounds). In design, it "flattered" the CP/M based Osborne and Kaypro portables. IBM, certain that portable PCs had no market, licensed their PC ROM BIOS code to Compaq, making Compaqs the only truly "100% IBM PC Compatible" PC clones. Many early programs were written in "IBM ROM BASIC", available only on Compaqs and real IBMs. 1983: Phoenix Technologies did a "clean room" reverse engineering job on the IBM PC BIOS (except ROM BASIC), enabling the "PC Clone" industry. Many companies churned out PC compatibles that were a lot faster, a lot cheaper and just as reliable as the IBM PC. Thus was created the unfortunate myth that "only price matters" in selecting computers. 1983 February: The Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet program was released for the IBM PC, making it essential for every business to have PCs. 1983 March: IBM brings out the IBM PC XT. Basicly it's the PC with a 10-Meg hard disk. 1983 April: Microsoft demonstrated "Interface Manager", later renamed "Windows". The demo was largely faked to make the computer appear to run programs simultaneously. 1983 November: Borland released Turbo Pascal, a low cost programming language that revolutionized the programming tools industry. 1983 November: Microsoft officially announced Windows. It didn't actually work yet, and wouldn't for a couple of years. 1983: Novell introduces NetWare X and NetWare S 1984 January: Apple introduced the Macinotosh computer with their famous "1984" Super Bowl commercial. The Macintosh replaced their failed Lisa computer, bringing the graphic environment to the consumer desktop. 1984 April: Automation Access founded. 1984: The GNU Project began with the objective of producing a free, Open Source version of Unix, including all its tools and subsidiary programs. 1984: Hewlett Packard brought out their first LaserJet Laser Printer. 180 dots-inch, based on a Canon printer engine. To get the engine business, Canon signed an agreement they would never produce an HP compatible printer - big mistake. 1985: IBM tried to fight off Ethernet by bringing out their Token Ring network. Technically superior to Ethernet, in practice it was just more expensive. Just about extinct by 1999. 1985: Aldus delivered PageMaker page layout software to the Apple Macintosh, and the Macintosh to business desktops (at least in the marketing department). 1985 October: Intel released the 386 CPU chip at 16-MHz. 1985 November: Microsoft actually shipped Windows 1.0 (two years after announcing it in typical Microsoft fashion). It still didn't work well enough to be useful for anything. 1985: Novell introduces Advanced NetWare 2.0. 1986: MCI and CompuServe bridged their proprietary e-mail systems, accelerating the use of e-mail in business. 1987: Copy protection died as Lotus removed it from 1-2-3. Microsoft had already removed copy protection from their products despite Bill Gates earlier statements that Microsoft would never ship non-copy protected products. Gates' explanation: "The users won, what can I say? The users won." Copy protection did not return in a serious way until 1998. It now appears it will need a stake driven through its heart to settle it back down. 1987: Digital Research exercised its right to clone MS-DOS (see 1982) and released DR-DOS. Microsoft launched an all out "dirty tricks" war against what they knew to be a superior product (clearly stated in internal e-mails). MS-DOS 5.0, 6.0 and 6.22 were essentially just imitations of the DR packages, though some features (task switching) never worked in the Microsoft versions, and they got sued for others (Stac). Caldera, current publisher of DR-DOS, is suing Microsoft over everything else, and looks good to win big-time. 1987 Apr: IBM and Microsoft introduce OS/2. 1987 Apr: Microsoft introduces OS/2 Lan Manager, an network operating system to compete with Novell's NetWare. It's a patched up rehash of IBM's old PCNet. 1987: Apple introduces their own networking protocol, AppleShare. It supports two protocols, AppleTalk (210-kilobits/sec) and EtherTalk (10-Megabits/second). The EtherTalk card costs over $900, so most opt for AppleTalk at about $330 per card. 1987: IBM made VGA the video graphics standard for PC compatibles, sweeping all other products from the market. Unfortunately, it was inadequate, so "SuperVGA" and other non-standards were soon launched by the industry. 1987: Novell's NetWare v2.11 brought networks to small business offices in a big way. One of the main objectives - to share Hewlett Packard's expensive laser printers. 1987: IBM tried to regain control of the PC market, introducing the PS/2 family of computers with MCA (Microchannel Architecture). They wanted too much for the license. Even more important, they wanted back license fees for all the AT bus computers a company had built before they'd license Microchanel. The industry responded with the EISA bus in 1988. Neither was widely accepted, and both were wiped from the PC market by PCI some years later. 1987 November: Microsoft releases Windows 2.0 and support for the Intel 80286 CPU chip. Still not good enough to use for anything. 1987 November: Microsoft releases Windows/386 which lets users run more than one DOS program at the same time. Still not good for much. 1988: Robert Morris Jr. launched the infamous "Internet Worm", ushering in the age of widespread worms, viruses and trojan horses. 1988: Novell introduces Advanced NetWare 2.15. 1988 Oct: 3Com introduces the 3+Open network, based on Microsoft's Lan Manager (based on IBM's old PCNet). In 1990 a famous "shoot out" was held between 3+ and Novell NetWare. 3Com dropped out of the network software business in Dec 1990. 1988 Apr: ISDN service is introduced. 1989 Apr: Intel released the 486 CPU chip at 25-MHz 1989: Novell introduces NetWare 3.0. 1990: Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web service on the Internet. 1990 May: Windows 3.0, an almost but not quite usable version of Microsoft Windows was released. 1990 Sep: The famous breakup - Microsoft and IBM part ways and both have rights to OS/2. IBM tells Microsoft it'll sue their ass if they use the name OS/2, so Microsoft's version was renamed Windows NT. 1991: Novell introduces NetWare 3.11. 1991 Feb: AOL releases client software for IBM PC compatibles. 1991 Oct: Microsoft adds CD-ROM support and multimedia extensions to Windows 3.0. 1991 Oct: Linus Torvalds releases the first publicly available version of the Linux operating system, beating GNU's Hurd to market (see 1984). 1992: The number of hosts on the Internet exceeded 1 million. 1992 April: Microsoft released Windows 3.1, with enough bugs fixed to be actually usable, firming up the tradition that no Microsoft product works before version 3.1, which is why Microsoft called the very first version of Windows NT version 3.1 "to avoid confusion". 1992 November: The Geos desktop with GeoWorks suite was released. The press heralded it as "What Windows 3.1 should have been". Users and reviewers liked it, but no software developers dared write software for it for fear of certain revenge from Microsoft. Geos disappeared from the market. 1992: Novell purchases Unix from AT&T 1993 March: Intel released the Pentium CPU chip at 66-MHz and started a massive advertising campaign to wipe out the 486 chip (because AMD made cheaper 486s that were about as fast as Intel's Pentiums. The Pentium was not called the 586 because a judge told Intel they couldn't copyright a number. 1993: The Mosaic Web browser was launched by NCSA, awakening business interest in the Internet. Graphics could now be viewed as easily as text. 1993: Novell introduces NetWare 3.12 and NetWare 4.0. 4.0 introduces Novell Directory Services in place of the Bindery. 1993 Nov: Microsoft introduces Windows NT 1.0 and a compatible version of OS/2 Lan Manager 1.0. Calls NT 1.0 NT 3.1 "to avoid confusion". 1993: Commercial Linux distributions start to appear. 1994 February: Microsoft released Windows for Workgroups 3.11, adding networking to the product. The network, derived from IBM's primitive PCNet, is so totally piss poor people continue to buy Lantastic instead. 1994 Mar: Bill Gates and Craig McCaw anounce a huge low orbit satilite communications system called Teledesic. 1994 Apr: Yahoo Web search service founded. 1994 Jun: ATM (Asychronous Transfer Mode) data service introduced by Bell Atlantic. 1994 Jun: U.S. government cancels requirement for GOSIP (Government Open Systems Interconnect, relegating the ISO 7 layer protocol stack to textbook status. TCP/IP "the interrum protocol that stayed for dinner" won simply because it worked. 1994 Aug: AOL reaches 1 million subscribers. 1994 Sep: Microsoft releases Windows NT 3.5, a speed-up and bug fix version of NT 3.1. 1994 Sep: The Netscape Navigator Web browser is launched by Mosaic Communications, which changed its name to Netscape two months later. 1994 October: IBM released OS/2 version 3.0, an operating system far superior to anything Microsoft had, or would have for years. IBM launched a major campaign to get software developed for it. Many major software houses signed up to port their applications, but nearly all had to drop OS/2 development when they read the NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) for the Windows95 development kit. If you were developing anything for OS/2, you could not participate in the Windows95 program. The NDA itself required total secrecy, so the reason everyone dropped OS/2 development was only rumored for years. 1994: Novell purchases WordPerfect and Quatro Pro. 1995 March: Microsoft releases "Microsoft Bob", featuring their new "social interface". Bill Gates' new wife Melinda got to announce this utter turkey. "Bob technology" finally found its way into Microsoft Office as the paper clip "assistant" . 1995 June: Microsoft released Windows NT 3.51. More bug fixes. 1995 Jul: IBM bought Lotus. 1995 Jul: Web based bookstore was founded. 1995 August: Microsoft released "32-bit" Windows95 , amid incredible hype. People who didn't even own computers lined up to buy it. Microsoft announced Windows95 meant "the end of DOS". See subsequent years for later "end of DOS, this time we really mean it" announcements. Also see 1995 November Intel release of the Pentium Pro, which gave the lie to Microsoft's "32-bit" claims. Win95 "integrated" DOS with the Windows interface to eliminate DR-DOS from the market once and for all. 1995 August: Microsoft and Department of Justice finalize Concent Decree. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson is ordered to sign it, since Judge Stanley Sporkin refused, indicating it was too easy on Microsoft. Microsoft immediately starts publicly ridiculing the Department of Justice, changes the names of the practices forbidden by the Concent Decree, and continues business as usual. 1995 Sep: eBay Web based auction site was launched. 1995 Nov: Intel released the Pentium Pro chip. Microsoft was livid because Pentium Pro was optimized for 32-bit code. Windows95 runs like a dog on PPro, exposing Microsoft's "32-bit" claims to be lies. OS/2 and Unix run just fine. 1995: Novell sells Unix to SCO. 1995: Gigabit Ethernet introduced by 3Com, Sun and Compaq. 1996 Feb: AOL reaches 5 million subscribers. 1996 Feb: Congress passes the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which is supposed to foster competition within local and long distance communications markets. It doesn't work. 1996 Aug: Microsoft released Windows NT 4.0. 1996 Aug: Microsoft released Internet Explorer 3.0 and Netscape released Netscape Navigator 3.0, and the browser war becomes intense. 1996: Bill Gates "discovers" the Internet. It can't be long now before we start hearing that Bill Gates "invented" the Internet (ooops, that was Al Gore, wasn't it?). 1996: Novell sells WordPrefect and Quatro Pro to Corel, but keeps rights to GroupWise colaboration and messaging software. Issues Groupwise 5. 1997 Oct: The Department of Justice filed anti-trust charges against Microsoft. 1997 Nov: AOL reaches 10 million subscribers. 1997 December: Editors of PC Week, (published by Ziff Davis, long known as a Microsoft ally) announce that "Microsoft has peaked". 1998 January: Intel released the Pentium II at 333-MHz, delivering on their promise to Microsoft to ship a Pentium Pro that ran 16-bit Windows95 code more efficiently. 1998 Feb: Compaq bought once mighty Digital Equipment, ending the age of the minicomputer. The mainframe is still standing. 1998 May: Napster music "sharing" software is introduced by Shawn Fanning at Northeastern University. 1998 June: Microsoft releases Windows 98. While it contained bug fixes for Windows95 the real reason for its release was to bury Internet Explorer in Windows so the Justice Department couldn't make them take it out. 1998 October: Novell introduces NetWare 5.0. NetWare gets great reviews, and Microsoft feels the heat, especially from comparisons between NetWare 5.0 (shipping, works great) and Windows NT 5.0 (very, very late; very, very buggy, not shipping yet), so renames Windows NT 5.0 to Windows 2000 to stop the 5.0 vs 5.0 comparisons. 1998 Nov: AOL purchases Netscape for $4.2 billion. Netscape has been crushed by Microsoft's monopolist business practices, but Microsoft spin doctors say it proves the vitality of the market. 1999: Bob Metcalf (see 1973) has to (in public) eat one of his InfoWorld columns because the Internet did not collapse in 1998. He ground it up in a blender with a lot of other ingredients, the wimp! Note: The author has the right to call Bob a wimp - as proof of concept he ate an entire Metcalf column, dry, whole and uncut (but did chase it with some Cabernet). 1999 Apr: the Melissa virus is released bring down Windows based networks worldwide. 1999 May: Microsoft releases Windows 98 SE (Second Edition) 1999 November: Guilty! Judge Jackson's Finding Of Fact in Justice Department suit was released declaring Microsoft has a monopoly, and has knowingly abused its monopoly position. 1999 November: Comdex. All the excitement was in "Internet appliances" and Linux. It was clear that the PC, particularly the Windows PC, is in decline. 1999 Dec: AOL reaches 20 million subscribers. 2000 Jan: Novell introduces NetWare 5.1. Windows NT 5.0 still not shipping. 2000 February: Microsoft finally ships Windows 2000 (the operating system formerly known as Windows NT 5.0). 2000 February: Microsoft can't take the heat - buys off Caldera evil business practices lawsuit. Microsoft demands a gag order as always to keep the truth from getting out. Microsoft announces a charge of $150 million and implies that was the total price (so Caldera position must have been weak). Experts estimate the actual buy-out was between $350 million and $500 million based on $150 million added to pre-existing reserves. 2000 February: the first big DoD (Distributed Denial of Service) attack brings down Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, and E*Trade. 2000 April: Guilty! Judge Jackson's Finding of Law is released immediately after DOJ / Microsoft settlement negotiations break down. Microsoft guilty on nearly all counts, "not proven" on a couple, and innocent on none. 2000 August: Caldera announces upcoming purchase of UnixWare, Unix trademark, rights to market SCO Unix, and SCO tradename from SCO. SCO becomes Tarantella Inc. 2000 August: Microsoft sends Windows 2000 Datacenter to production. OEMs should be taking delivery in September. 2000 September: Microsoft releases Windows Me (Melenium Edition). This was basically Windows 98SE with some maintenance features and multimedia features "integrated" the same as they did with Internet Explorer with the intent of destroying Real Media and other multimedia vendors. 2000 October 30: The last Multics system is shut down (see 1965). 2000 November: George W. Bush is elected president of the U.S. under suspicious circumstances. The business world presumes this means Microsoft will be let off on anti-trust charges. 2001 January: Linux kernel version 2.4 released with new features aimed at enterprise level servers. 2001 February: Microsoft announces Windows XP (eXPerience) formerly known as Whistler. It is the Windows 2000 code base applied to a consumer operating system. Shipment later in the year. 2001 June: A pro-business, Libertarian leaning Court of Appeals unanimously upholds all 8 counts of Microsoft's conviction for abusing its monopoly. They set aside the penalty for retrial due to an "appearance" of of bias on the part of judge Thomas Jackson. 2001 Aug: Microsoft appeals to the Supreme Court to overturn it's conviction for monopoly abuse.

Origins of Microsoft - How it all Began

How did Microsoft and its executives get so rich so fast? It wasn't through "innovation" (even Microsoft execs can't come up with a genuine Microsoft innovation). It wasn't by giving credit where credit was due. It wasn't by giving others the best deal, or giving them the best product.

A few hundred million a year well spent on PR has most of the world believing it was exactly these things that made them rich. In reality, it was an intense, single minded determination to make the most possible money by marketing and popularizing innovations, without regard, or compensation, to those who originated or who owned these innovations. In the process, they made an incredible number of enemies - so many enemies the hundreds of millions for PR is stretched a bit thin lately.

Microsoft and the Stock Market - The Dutch Tulip Craze, 1998 Microsoft's Public Image - Billions Well Spent Microsoft and the Truth - "Have we been introduced?" Microsoft and the Law - Trouble, Trouble, Trouble 2003-Dec - Mythica sues over game title - Mythic vs MS Mythica 2003-Dec - Real Network sues Microsoft - major antitrust filing 2003-Oct - E-Data sues over music download patents - inconsequential? 2003-Oct - Isreal suspends all Microsoft contracts - antitrus action 2003 - Class action suit over security - California 2002-Oct - SPX sues Microsoft over patent - NetMeeting whiteboard 2002 - Burst sues over Patents and Antitrust - multimedia 2002 - Network Commerce sues over Patent - gets court date 2002 - Sun files private antitrust suit - over Java, again 2002 - Be files private antitrust suit - considered a strong case 2002 - AOL / Netscape files private antitrust suit - long expected 2001 - antitrust charges in South Korea - bid to stop Windows XP 2001 - Kodak considers antitrust suit - Microsoft hijacks photo software 2001 - Intertrust Sues - Microsoft steals music delivery encryption 2001 - FTC sues Microsoft (again) - False & Misleading Advertising 2001 - DOJ opens new Microsoft case - Bush admin picks up the ball. 2000-Nov - WebTV settles with FTC - False & misleading advertising. 2000-Oct - Racial discrimination suit filed - policy favores white & male. 2000-Sep - Fired Employee sues - wins, could get $9 million 2000-Jun - Hyperphrase sues Over Patent - Smart Tags in MS Office 2000-Mar - Europe Launches Second Anti-trust Investigation 2000-Jan - Over 100 Class Action Suites - The Sharks Smell Blood 1999-Feb-03 - Eoalis Sues over Patent - $520 million judgement in 2003 1998 - Blue Mountain Arts Sues Microsoft - Unfair Trade Practices 1998 - Mouse Designer Sues Microsoft - Patents & Trade Secrets 1998 - Court Denies Microsoft Access to Professor's Research 1998 - Ed Curry vs. Microsoft - Security Expert Case 1998 - Department of Justice Sues Microsoft - Anti-Trust 1998 - 20 States Sue Microsoft - Anti-Trust 1998-2001 - Sun Microsystems Sues Microsoft - Java License 1998 - Caldera Sues Microsoft - Business Practices 1998 - AT&T Sues Microsoft - Microsoft Buys Out 1998 - Bristol Technologies Sues Microsoft - Breach of Contract 1998 - Borland Sues Microsoft - Microsoft Buys Out 1998 - SCO Sues Microsoft - SCO Wins 1998-2000 - Temp Workers Sue Microsoft - Temps Win 1998 - Microsoft Investigated by Japan - Files Seized 1998 - Microsoft Investigated by European Union - Anti-Trust 1998 - Department of Justice Investigates Collusion Attempt 1998 - Department of Justice Investigates Microsoft - Ongoing 1998 - 3Com Sues Microsoft - Business Practices 1998 - Ralph Nader Investigates Microsoft - Business Practices 1998 - Congress Investigates Microsoft - Business Practices 1998 - Spyglass Sues Microsoft - Microsoft Buys Out 1998 - Italy sues Microsoft - yet another Anti-Trust action 1998 - Microsoft Faces Charges in Brazil 1997 - The "Cookie Jar Reserve" case - Former audit chief sues 1995 - Syn's Relief sues Microsoft for Software Piracy - Wins in 2001. 1995 - DoJ sues Microsoft over Intuit buyout 1994 - Stac Sues Microsoft - Stac Wins 1982 - Digital Research Sues Microsoft - DR Wins € 

Origins of Microsoft

The story of Microsoft is not one of rags to riches. Bill Gates was the son of a very wealthy Seattle attorney, which is why he had the money to found Microsoft, how he got involved with IBM, and why he was able to leverage a little luck into an empire. "To get rich, start rich" - advice to the ambitious.

“Software was seldom sold - since all software was based on the ideas and software of others, it was considered impossible to own it.”When the "personal computer" was born, the world of software was much different from today. On larger computers, software was simply included. What wasn't included was developed by the owner. Software was seldom sold - since all software was based on the ideas and software of others, it was considered impossible to own it. Software was developed by those who could, passed around and shared.

Enter Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Microsoft's first product was a BASIC programming language interpreter for the 8080 based Altair computer. The way this product was developed set the tone for the Microsoft of today.

When IBM was designing the IBM PC, they needed two things: an operating system to run it, and a programming language so people could get it to do something. The logical thing for IBM to do was use CP/M as the operating system, since it was the business standard at the time. CP/M was written by Gary Kildall and published by Digital Research Corp.

Bill Gates' mother, a wealthy society matron who, as director of a prominent charity, associated with high IBM executives, urged these executives to talk to her son about his BASIC language interpreter. Since IBM was going to the West Coast to talk to Digital Research about CP/M, they agreed to talk to Bill.

Negotiations at Digital Research were handled by Gary Kildall's wife (who was the appropriate officer to handle negotiations) and did not go smoothly. IBM's people were upset at having to negotiate with a woman (this was the "Old IBM", remember). DR's lawyers declared the contract so one-sided it could not be signed without significant changes. DR, as the dominant operating system provider for small computers, had plenty at risk.

Alternate story - (there is some supporting evidence). While CP/M-86 was the logical choice for the IBM PC, it was considered unacceptable because Gary Kildall had had an affair with an IBM executive's wife, making IBM very anxious to find an alternative.

Popular story - (no supporting evidence). Gary Kildall was out flying his airplane and didn't bother showing up for the meeting with IBM. This seems to have been made up by IBM or Microsoft to cover up the real story.

While they were talking to Bill Gates about BASIC, IBM asked if he could also provide an operating system. Bill Gates answered "yes" and signed the contract. He had no product, no market and nothing at risk, so what the hell. Renegotiate later.

Microsoft purchased QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System), a ripoff of CP/M (proven in court) from Seattle Computers for next to nothing and set out to finish it up. Unfortunately, Microsoft didn't have the skills required for operating systems, so IBM had to do much of the finish work just to get the PC out the door.

“Unfortunately, Microsoft didn't have the skills required for operating systems, so IBM had to do much of the finish work just to get the PC out the door.”Having almost no investment in DOS (Digital Research, Seattle Computers and IBM had done nearly all the work), no production costs (IBM did the production) and competing with companies that had a lot invested in their product, Bill Gates decided to sell at a price lower than others could reasonably match to drive competitors out of the business.

From this point on, Microsoft had a monopoly, which Bill Gates has worked tirelessly to deepen, extend and leverage.

When IBM created the PC AT, they also created a new operating system for it, much more advanced than DOS. Bill Gates threatened IBM that he would withdraw all licensing for DOS if the AT came out with any operating system other than DOS. Since the PC XT was nearly all of IBM's PC business, and it was entirely dependent on DOS, IBM backed down. For the first time, but not the last, Microsoft used its monopoly position to deprive the public of a superior product.

Note: refer to well researched book "Big Blues" for background on the above.

Microsoft and the Stock Market

Microsoft has almost no assets, a few buildings and some obsolete computer code called "Windows", code for a few Windows dependent applications, and a bunch of software patents related to Windows. Its market valuation (stock price per share multiplied by number of shares) is higher than IBM or General Electric. Both these companies have assets up the kazoo. Can you say "bubble"? I knew you could. A lot more on the Microsoft stock market problem is provided by analyst Bill Parish

[ UPDATE: 09-01-00 - Microsoft stock is still below 50% of its peak at 57. Even the sendoff of Windows XP to manufacturing didn't get a rise out of it. ]

[ UPDATE: 10-10-00 - Microsoft stock is now below 50% of its peak, and is continuing down ]

The market valuation of Microsoft is based on expectations of growth and profitability continuing to exceed expectations, and on the "greater fool" principle (no matter how foolish you were to pay that much, a greater fool will pay you more). These expectations are entirely unrealistic, but Microsoft is determined to keep them going as long as possible - especially since the wealth of Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Balmer and many other Microsofties is based on this same unrealistic valuation.

[ UPDATE: 10-10-00 - Paul Allen has sold out of Microsoft almost completely to preserve his wealth, and has resigned from the Board of Directors, as is appropriate for a person with little stock in the company. Bill Gates has also been selling out as fast as he has been able, considering his prominence in the company. ]

The imperative for high growth and high profit to support the valuation bubble has Microsoft attempting to leverage their monopoly into other areas. Having a monopoly is not against the law, but leveraging one to take over other markets is, and that's why Microsoft is in trouble with the Department of Justice.

"Microsoft is debt free and awash in cash". In a conventional sense, yes. Microsoft has not borrowed to grow its business - what it has done is issue vast amounts of stock options to its officers and employees to keep them working at very low rates of pay.

The problem is, should Microsoft's stock begin to slide seriously, as it eventually must, those holding options would have every reason to exercise them as soon as possible. Once some employees exercise their options, they will hold Microsoft stock, which, loosing value, obviously must be sold immediately, further depressing the stock and causing other options holds to panic. This activity among insiders will result in panic among other investors. A major bloodbath will ensue, and fortunes will be decimated overnight.

Once their options were exercised, key Microsoft employees would no longer have any incentive to stay with the company, since the rising value of their options was the main reason to put up with low pay and strenuous working conditions.

[ UPDATE: - 10-11-00 - With their stock sliding rather than growing, the options ploy for recruitment and retention is no longer viable. Microsoft has restructured their compensation program to bring them to "low middle" instead of "low" on the industry scale. This will significantly increase their labor costs. ]

Should Microsoft try to prevent an options panic by revaluing stock options, they would incur the wrath of all other investors who would be given no such protection, so a mass sell-off would certainly ensue anyway, with further pressure on the options.

[ UPDATE: - 10-11-00 - When Microsoft's stock valuation hit 1/3 of its high, the company had to do something about stock options. To avoid angering investors, rather than revalue the options Microsoft issued matching options, holding off the problem for the moment but doubling their long term exposure ]

Once the stock has crashed, Microsoft will lose the confidence of corporate America. In fact corporate management will start to wonder about future viability, and Microsoft's marketing advantage will be seriously damaged. Windows, already a cost problem and obsolete in many ways, will suffer severely.

Microsoft's Public Image - Billions Well Spent

Key to Microsoft's success is its public image. Whatever reality may be, it is critical for Microsoft to keep the public on its side. To this end they employ a number of PR (Public Relations) firms, most prominently Waggener Edstrom. Microsoft pays Waggener Edstrom about a quarter of a billion $$ a year (that's billion with a B) and other PR firms many millions more to keep Bill Gate's image polished and Microsoft shining in the public eye.

Humans are pack animals, and packs can't have a lot of leaders, so most people are genetically disposed to admire and follow a rich and powerful leader. Microsoft's PR campaigns have been highly successful. Even with evidence of its true personality pouring off the TV screen and printed page, the American public remains faithful to the image.

“Another PR firm, Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, was much in the news in April 1998. Microsoft, concerned about image damage from the Department of Justice investigation, had Edelman put together a program to fake spontaneous "grass roots" support for Microsoft.”So how was this achieved? Fortunately, we don't have to guess. Pam Edstrom is a principal of Waggener Edstrom. She has a daughter, Jenifer. Jenifer wrote a book, Barbarians Lead by Bill Gates detailing her mother's work. This book is not on Microsoft's recommended reading list.

Astro-Turf - Another PR firm, Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, was much in the news in April 1998. Microsoft, concerned about image damage from the Department of Justice investigation, had Edelman put together a program to fake spontaneous "grass roots" support for Microsoft. Prominent public and industry personalities were to be paid to submit Microsoft prepared letters and columns to newspapers and magazines as their own. This is known as an "astro-turf" campaign in honor of it's fake grass roots.

“Pam Edstrom is a principal of Waggener Edstrom. She has a daughter, Jenifer. Jenifer wrote a book, Barbarians Lead by Bill Gates detailing her mother's work. This book is not on Microsoft's recommended reading list.”The Los Angeles Times obtained a set of Microsoft / Edelman planning documents and published an expose. Microsoft immediately denied everything. When it became obvious nobody believed them, they claimed it was just a proposal and they had not acted on it. Faced with the fact that the main kick-off had already been held with PR people flown in from all over the country, Microsoft responded that they "had a right" to tell their story. In other words, Microsoft feels they have a right to pay people to deceive the public. For more information see "Links" [k1,k2,k3]

Microsoft has apparently made good on it's claimed "right" to go ahead with this campaign. Since the LA Times article, many letters and columns displaying an unusual sameness in subject, wording and lack of substantiation have been published in many newspapers and magazines.

Above and beyond all this is Microsoft's massive advertising budget, one of the largest on the planet - an advertising budget that makes the editors of most industry magazines willing conduits for the Microsoft public relations story.

Beyond paid PR, there is a considerable effort using Microsoft employees who "participate" in on-line discussion groups, usually without admitting they are Microsoft employees.

The most famous "participation" case was the "Barkto incident". A person calling himself Steve Barkto appeared in OS/2 discussion groups claiming to be a big IBM customer in Oklahoma who had adopted OS/2. Barkto had nothing good to say about OS/2 or IBM, and many of the things he said were outright lies. His posting was traced back to an account that was paid for by the credit card of Rick Segal, a high Microsoft executive.

“WagEd is not part of Microsoft. They can be subpoenaed. Brought to court they might tell the truth to avoid a perjury conviction. Microsoft is forced to do its own PR on some issues, and isn't at all good at it.”Years ago, on-line postings by Microsoft "shills" were easy to spot. Not only did they spout the party line precisely, but their grammar and spelling were always excellent - highly unusual for newsgroup posts. They learn - today's shills use some of the worst spelling seen on the net and are often almost incoherent. pro Microsoft "Shill fests" often follow magazine articles embarrassing to Microsoft but verified to be true. If you can't deny it, bring out the shills!

The most prominent MS shill today is Michael Merlin, who claims to post from Paris France (his variable command of English has aroused suspicion he is more than one person). Michael denounces as a lie any statement critical of Microsoft, and claims all witnesses who testified against Microsoft in the DOJ case were lying. He will not answer any question as to his financial relationship with Microsoft (and he has been asked many times).

Microsoft and the Truth - "Have we been introduced?"

Prominent InfoWorld columnist Nick Petreley, who is also a bible student, wrote a column in 1997 based on the passage "When the devil speaks lies, he speaks his native tongue". According to Mr. Petreley, Microsoft is not the devil, but, "Should Microsoft ever meet up with the devil, they won't need a translator." He gave plenty of examples. Unfortunately, practically any statement from Microsoft, whether about the company, its products or the products of others, must be presumed to be, at the least, a misrepresentation of fact.

A recent Microsoft's distortion is to imply they invented XML, which they most certainly did not. They submitted some improvements to the XML DTD (data definition section) and the W3C committe accepted them with little change. The claim is probably a face saving move since XML is so central to Microsoft's .NET initiative, but it is untrue just the same.

Microsoft has long depended on the PR firm Waggener Edstrom to cover up and smooth over. WagEd has done a magnificent job of creating a public image completely unrelated to reality, and truly deserves the hundreds of millions Microsoft has paid them. The reason the image is now crumbling is simple. Microsoft is in court. WagEd is not part of Microsoft. They can be subpoenaed. Brought to court they might tell the truth to avoid a perjury conviction. Microsoft is forced to do its own PR on some issues, and isn't at all good at it.

Watching the Justice Department directly contrast Bill Gates' testimony against his own email has introduced the public to what we in the industry have long known. Here's another lovely example. Microsoft denounced Wendy Goldwin Rholm's book The Secret Microsoft Files as "pure fiction" - then, in court, accused Caldera of leaking confidential documents to Goldwin Rholm (obtained for the Caldera vs Microsoft court battle). So which is it, all lies or leaked truth?

Microsoft and the Law - Trouble, trouble, trouble

It isn't at all unusual for a large and active corporation to have a few lawsuits against it. What is different about Microsoft is the nature of the suits, their number, and that they are found clearly guilty on just about every one that goes to trial. A fair number they just buy out of to avoid the embarrassment of yet another loss.

Microsoft has so many actions against it, we can only cover the most important. Most of Microsoft's (alleged) victims don't have the resources to sue, especially since Microsoft may have already used their own technology to destroy them. Of those who do sue Microsoft, some of the most obvious cases are simply paid off under a nondisclosure agreement, so we never hear of them. Others get nowhere because the victim doesn't have the money to be effective against Microsoft's huge legal department.

By 2003 monetary judgements and pay-offs had spawned a mini industry engaged in suing Microsoft for patent infringement. As the quantity increased the quality decreased, so Microsoft has been winning some of them.

- 19 Dec 2003 - Mythic sues over game title - Mythic runs an on-line multi-player role playing game based on Norse, Arthurian and Celtic mytholigy. Microsoft is setting up an on-line multi-player role playing game based on Norse mythology titled Mythica. Mythic asked Microsoft to change the name and they refused (A16). Microsoft has used this trick before - name an imitative product close enough to a successful product to create confusion, then overwhelm that product with massive marketing. In the case of case of Palm PC vs. Palm Pilot they were forced to back off.

- 2 Oct 2003 - Los Angeles - a class-action lawsuit has been filed against Microsoft for myriad security problems and remedies too complex for the public to understand. A new California privacy protection law made this lawsuit possible despite Microsoft's licenses, which disclaim responsibility for anything and everything. It remains to be seen if this usage of the law will fly.

- 18 Dec 2003 - Real Network Sues Microsoft - This is a major antitrust action and long been expected. During the DoJ antitrust trial Microsoft rushed out an unfinished and defective abomination called "Windows Me" to "integrate" Windows Media Player before the courts could prevent it. This was a direct attack against Real Networks (A9, A10, A11).

Microsoft executives themselves described the action as exactly the way they attacked Netscape except "starting earlier". Microsoft's actions against Netscape were ruled illegal by the court, a verdict upheld unanimously on appeal, but the newly installed Bush/Ashcroft DoJ declined to apply any meaningful remedy.

- 14 Oct 2003 - E-Data Sues - I suspect this music download technology action (which also involves Tiscali and OD2) involving 1985 patents (A2) hopes to capitalize on Microsoft's stunning loss to Eolis on streaming media technology.

- 14 Oct 2003 - Israel Ministry of Commerce has suspended all contracts with Microsoft for monopoly abuse (A1). This ban extends through 2004, so there will be no upgrades to Windows 2003 or Office 2003 at least through that period. The ministry is investigating OpenOffice. as an alternative. This application of Israel's antitrust law was forced by groups protesting the fact that Microsoft refuses to provide "right to left" language support for the Apple version of of its monopoly Microsoft Office product. This support is needed for Hebrew, Arabic and Urdu.

- Oct 2002 - SPX sued Microsoft over the "whitboard" feature of NetMeeting, which they claimed infringed their patent. Microsoft has since removed the whiteboard feature from the latest version with the explanation, "We regret that we are no longer able to offer Whiteboard in this version of NetMeeting" but still claims they do not infringe the SPX patent. Conclusion: 14-Nov-2003, the jury awarded SPX $62 Million (A8).

- 19 Jun 2002 -, a publisher of multimedia distribution and playback software, has filed suit against Microsoft for patent infringement, antitrust, unfair business practices, trade secrets violations and breach of contract. It's the same old story. Microsoft sees useful technology. Microsoft and originator enter license negotiations. Microsoft gets good inside look at technology. License negotiations suddenly end. Microsoft issues similar product infringing on patents and copyrights. Microsoft moves to kill originator quickly to reduce or eliminate settlement costs. Here's the anouncement from Burst.

- 25 Mar 2002 - Network Commerce has been given a court date for it's suit against Microsoft for infringing its pattents on a method of selling software, digital music and digital audio over the Internet. InfoWorld Article

- 7 Mar 2002 - Sun Microsystems filed a private antitrust suit over Microsoft's efforts to kill Java as a multiplatform system. This action was long expected. With Microsoft now convicted for abusing a monopoly, and the charges upheld on appeal, Sun needs only show damages. Microsoft can be penalized tripple damages under the law. Register Article - InfoWorld Article

- 17 Feb 2002 - Be has filed a private antitrust suit against Microsoft claiming that Microsoft leveraged its Windows monopoly power to totally destroy Be's ability to field a competing (and highly superior) operating system. Microsoft's licensing to OEM's states that if Windows is on a hard disk, no other operating system may be on that hard disk. This prevents "dual boot" or selective install configurations, the only way a competing system could be commercially distributed. Several OEMs had agreed to include BeOS on their systems, but Microsoft reminded them that if they did they would lose their license to distribute Windows. Be was eventually forced to liquidate, and sold its assets to Palm, but retained the right to sue Microsoft. This is considered by many to be a very strong and clear cut case. Tripple damages may apply. InfoWorld Article

- 22 Jan 2002 - AOL / Netscape has filed a private antitrust suit against Microsoft for leveraging it's monopoly to destroy Netscape's Web browser market. Since Microsoft has been found guilty, and guilt upheld on appeal, of precisely this action, chances of Netscape getting some satisfaction are considered good. Tripple damages may apply. InfoWorld Article

- 6 Sep 2001 - South Korea ISP Daum Communications filed for an injunction against Windows XP based on antitrust charges. The complaint charges that Microsoft's inclusion of Microsoft Instant Messaging in Windows XP unfairly competes against other companies that offer Instant Messaging services. Similar charges are expected in Europe, and possibly in the United States.

- 2 Jul 2001 - Eastman Kodak considers anti-trust action against Microsoft. After years of working with Microsoft on a standard for digital cameras, Kodak found Microsoft had completely hijacked the photo software in Windows XP, loading its own software instead of Kodak's and redirecting photo orders and charging for every photo ordered through Windows. Kodak's threats were apparently effective, Microsoft has promised changes and this action is on hold pending release of Windows XP when those changes can be confirmed. Article: eCommerce Times Article: InfoWorld.

- 27 Apr 2001 - Intertrust Technology Sues for Patenet Infringement. Microsoft intends to take over the digital music distribution business with Microsoft Media Player (permanently embedded into Windows XP). They offer the music moguls a secure method which prevents copying of copyrighted works, but that technology appears to belong to Intertrust. Article.

- 26 Feb 2001 - FTC Charges False and Misleading Advertising (again). This time it's an advertisement comparing a new Windows CE device to an older model Palm Pilot. They didn't bother to mention the Windows device was using extra cost wireless add-ons, and didn't make clear that current model Palm Pilots come with this wireless capability built in. More in our News Item.

- 14 Feb 2001 - Department of Justice Opens New Investigation. Microsoft recently "invested" $135 million in Corel, one of it's few remaining competitors. In return they got a written agreement to support .NET with all their products. While not part of the (written) agreement, Corel backed off from Linux and said it would not try to win new WordPerfect users away from Microsoft. More in our News Item.

- Nov 2000 - WebTV Settles With FTC - Microsoft's WebTV division is being required by the Federal Trade Commission to launch a "consumer education" campaign to counter false and misleading advertising. They must also reimburse some former subscribers to their services. WebTV was acquired by Microsoft a couple years ago amid great fear they would leverage it to monopolize the interactive television market. So far they haven't come up with a product anyone wants.

- Oct 2000 - Racial Discrimination Suite Filed - Monique Donaldson's suit claims Microsoft lacks racial equality guidlines and allows managers to apply their own prejudices, resulting in self perpetuation of a white male management structure. Donaldson's lawyers are seeking class action status for the lawsuit. Article.

[ UPDATE: Nov-00 - class action status has been established with 13 plaintiffs and requested damages have been upped to $5 billion. The same judge Thomas Penfield Jackson who found Microsoft guilty of antitrust violations presides. It must be getting pretty hard to find a judge who hasn't already found Microsoft guilty of something. Article ]

- Sep 2000 - Employee Fired by e-Mail - sues, wins big. Judge Russell Peterson says, "An inference may reasonably be drawn that the conduct of Microsoft was designed to ensure that the applicant did not receive his 1999 stock options". Stock options are an important aspect of employment at Microsoft, compensating for low pay, thus preventing Michael Canizales from exercising his options is a denial of just compensation. The award may be as high as $9 million. Details at CNet.

- Jun 2000 - Hyperphrase Sues Over Patent - Hyperphrase claimed the "Smart Tags" feature of Microsoft Office 2000 violated several of its patents for database search (A15). On 25-Sep-2003 this case was settled by summary judgement in Microsoft's favor. The judge ruled Hyperphrase's patents differed to much from the action of Smart Tags.

- Mar 2000 - Europe Launches Second Anti-trust Investigation of Microsoft - With one anti-trust investigation on hold pending conclusion of the U.S. Department of Justice's case against Microsoft, Europe has started another investigation into anti-competitive aspects of Windows 2000. If you read our article "Adopting Windows 2000" you will see they have plenty of material to work with. More at The Register.

- Jan 2000 - Over 100 Class Action Suits Filed - The sharks smell blood in the water. Lawyers are now rushing to take cases against Microsoft they wouldn't have touched with a laser pointer at 30 paces a few months ago. If there is no settlement with the DOJ and judge Jackson issues a Finding of Law, these will all go ahead with their basis (monopoly power) considered already proven.

[ UPDATE: - 9-2000 - Several of these class action suits (about 140 now) have been dropped on a technicality (the injured did not buy directly from Microsoft), but California does not have that exception and judge has approved a suit to go to trial. ]

- Feb 1999 - Eolas Sues Microsoft Over Patent - Eolas sought an injunction against shipments of Microsoft Internet Explorer (no embeded within Windows) and damages for a browser plug-in method for which it was awarded a patent (A13). On 12-Aug-2003 a jury awarded Eolas $521 million in damages. Microsoft promised to appeal and started modifying Internet Explorer rather than license the technology (A12, A4). This is considered a bad judgement by the industry because of "prior art" and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has agreed to reexamin the patent (A14).

- Dec 17, 1998 - Blue Mountain Arts Sues Microsoft - . The leading publisher of on-line Internet greeting cards has filed suit against Microsoft for unfair trade practices. The suit claims Microsoft set up a competing greeting card site, then distributed trial versions of the Internet Explorer Web browser that divert Blue Mountain greetings into a trash folder instead of delivering them.

Microsoft responded that this feature of IE, when turned on by the user, also diverts Microsoft greeting cards into the trash folder. Microsoft also claims they offered to help Blue Mountain develop a way around this problem, but Blue Mountain did not respond.

We suspect Microsoft may be right on this one (not every suit against Microsoft has merit), but it does point out the power Microsoft will gain over other Internet companies if they succeed in establishing an Internet Explorer monopoly.

[ Woops! 12-22-98 - the judge didn't agree with our opinion and slapped an injunction on Microsoft. Well, he knows a lot more about the case than we do, so we will have to presume the case does have merit. ]

- Dec 1998 - Mouse Designer Sues Microsoft. Goldtouch Technologies has sued Microsoft for $1 billion in punitive damages and compensatory damages for patent infringement, theft of trade secrets and fraud. Gouldtouch meet with Microsoft in 1997 in hopes the industry giant would license and market its ergonomic mouse design. Instead, the suit claims, Microsoft carefully examined the product, then imitated it and marketed the imitation as the IntelliMouse Pro. This is not the first time Microsoft has been accused of this trick.

- Dec 1998 - Court Denies Microsoft Access to Professors' Research. Professors Michael Cusumano and David Yoffie wrote a book Competing on Internet Time: lessons from Netscape and its Battle with Microsoft. Microsoft subpoenaed the research notes and confidential interview tapes on which the book was based. In a major freedom of the press decision, Microsoft's subpoena was denied, and the denial upheld on appeal.

- 1998 - Ed Curry vs. Microsoft - not filed yet because Curry, his business destroyed by Microsoft, hasn't found a lawyer willing to take the case. Curry was Microsoft's security consultant, charged with interfacing with the government on matters concerning security certification for Windows NT. According to Curry, he refused to lie to the government, so Microsoft took revenge and is now unable to get consulting work because Microsoft intimidates prospective employers.

[ UPDATE - Nov 1999 - This case will not be brought because Ed Curry (in his 50s) died of a stroke leaving his family in dire financial straits. Stress is thought to be a contributing factor. ]

- 1998 - Department of Justice antitrust action against Microsoft - going to trial now. Originally brought based on Microsoft's leveraging its monopoly to crush Netscape, it continues to broaden. The key to this action is whether or not Microsoft has a monopoly. If they are shown to have a monopoly, then it will be relatively easy to show they have leveraged that monopoly illegally.

Pundits in the press and in academia have one thing to say to Microsoft: "settle now". In the words of one prominent antitrust scholar, "If Microsoft looses this case, the repercussions could be stunning".

Microsoft, realizing judge Jackson is competent on technology matters, sassed the judge in his own courtroom, a technique they have used in the past to provoke an angry response, which they then use to get the judge removed on grounds of "prejudice". Judge Jackson remained cool as a cucumber, so Microsoft is now stuck with a judge who is technologically competent and ill disposed to their tricks (they fooled him last time - it isn't going to happen again).

[ UPDATE: Finding of Fact - Guilty! - NOV 1999 - Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson concluded that Microsoft did have a monopoly and used it improperly to leverage other products. The judge then appointed a mediator, judge Richard Posner, and urged both sides to settle the case (Jackson really doesn't want to have to hand down a final verdict). ]

[ UPDATE: Finding of Law - Guilty! - 3 APR 2000 - After negotiations finally failed, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson handed down a final verdict in his Finding of Law. Nearly all charges by the Department of Justice were upheld. A couple of minor items were set aside as "not proven", which means they can be brought up again. ]

[ UPDATE: Appeals Court Gets Case - 26 SEP 2000 - The Department of Justice had requested the case be expedited directly to the Supreme Court, but the Supremes decided to send it to the DC Court of Appeals first. Microsoft had campaigned strongly for the DC court which they feel is pro Microsoft. In an unusual move, the entire court will hear the case. ]

[ UPDATE: Microsoft Loses Appeal - 29 JUN 2001 - Microsoft suffered a stunning defeat in the DC Court of Appeals (which everyone had presumend would let them off). For analysis, see our article Appeals Court: "Guilty!". ]

[ UPDATE: Justice asks for Acceleration - 13 JUL 2001 - The Department of Justice has asked the Court of Appeals to waive the 52 day period for Microsoft to ask for a rehearing of the case. They base this on the fact that the verdict was by all 7 judges and was unanimous, so the court is certain not to allow a rehearing. This indicates Justice intends to attack the Windows XP release. ]

- 1998 - Attorneys General of 20 states sue Microsoft. These suits have been partially rolled into the Department of Justice case, but in a way that does not preclude the states bringing additional charges upon conclusion of Justice's case.

- 1998 - Sun Microsystems sues Microsoft - the Java case - being tried now. Microsoft, recognizing that Sun's Java environment could make Windows irrelevant, determined to corrupt and pervert it. To that end they needed to license the language from Sun. Sun, wishing to promote Java to the greatest extent possible, felt licensing it to Microsoft would be greatly to their advantage, although Gosling, its primary creator, felt dealing with Microsoft at all was too dangerous.

Sun wrote terms into the license designed to prevent Microsoft from corrupting and perverting Java. Sun's claim is that Microsoft clearly and immediately violated these terms and continues to do so.

[ NEWS FLASH! 17 NOV 1998 - Judge Ronald Whyte handed Microsoft an injunction requiring them to make their Java compliant or remove it entirely within 90 days. 19 NOV 1998 - Microsoft has stated they will bring their Java into compliance with Sun's requirements. ]

[ UPDATE: - Jan 2000 - The Java injunction against Microsoft was renewed. This will make the injunction permanent, because Microsoft's license will expire soon. Microsoft, of course, declared victory. ]

[ CONCLUSION: - 24-Jan-01 - Microsoft settles with Sun. Faced with all but certain loss in court, Microsoft will pay $20 million and is banned from all things Java for eternity. Microsoft declared victory. ]

- 1997 - Caldera sues Microsoft - being tried now. When Microsoft and IBM brought out DOS, Digital Research sued, claiming DOS included copyrighted Digital Research code. DR's Gary Kildall was able, using a secret code, to pop up a DR copyright notice on the PC IBM had brought to court. Case won.

Aside from monetary damages, DR won the right to clone DOS, which they eventually did with DR-DOS. Microsoft, unwilling to tolerate the slightest crack in their monopoly, fought DR-DOS with every means at their disposal, including unethical and probably illegal means. Caldera, current owner of Digital Research's products, has sued over the illegal part. The judge on the case considers Caldera's case so strong he has allowed them to expand it.

Repercussions for Microsoft, should they lose this case, could be serious, as it directly attacks some of their favorite business practices.

[ CONCLUSION: - 11-Jan-2000 - Microsoft Buys Out - Realizing they were going to lose big time, and how much of their dirty laundry Caldera was going to air out, Microsoft paid them off and demanded a gag order on the case. Microsoft then made a loud public announcement implying the cost was a mere $150 million. While the true figure is secret, analysts believe it was somewhere between $350 and $500 million. ]

[ UPDATE: - Some Case Documents Released - A judge in Utah released, over strong protest from Microsoft, a large number of documents from the Caldera case to a newspaper that sued for them under the Freedom of Information act. More documents may be released later. ]

[ UPDATE: - 21-Feb-2001 - link to the "dirty laundry list" with the case details and some of the evidence (it looks like an ftp index, but the .html files will display when selected and the pdfs will download). ]

- 1998 - AT&T sues Microsoft - over code for Windows NT. Wishing to expand the influence of NT software, Microsoft had licensed Windows NT code to AT&T so they could create Unix modules allowing NT software to run on Unix. Microsoft decided this was no longer desirable and refused to upgrade AT&T's code to current versions, destroying AT&T's investment in the product line.

[ CONCLUSION: Microsoft Buys Out - Apparently AT&T was too powerful an adversary to be steamrolled in the usual Microsoft manner, so they paid off to get out of the case. Gag order part of the deal as usual. ]

- 1998 - Bristol Technologies sues Microsoft - going to trial now. Same as the AT&T case, except Bristol is much smaller, so Microsoft intends to crush them rather than pay them off.

[ UPDATE: - The jury gave Bristol a partial victory, and awarded them damages of $1.00. Apparently the jurors figured anyone stupid enough to make a deal with Microsoft deserves what they get, a very reasonable approach. Bristol is considering an appeal. ]

[ UPDATE: - Sep 2000 - Not so fast there! Seems the Judge didn't agree with the jury, felt they may have misinterpreted their instructions. Judge has accused Microsoft of untrue and deceptive testimony, and fined them $1 million. Case may be reopened for further action. Find more at The Register Article-1 and Article-2. ]

[ UPDATE: - Nov 2000 - Another $3.7 million awarded to Bristol. Case could be retried for even more damages. Article ]

[ CONCLUSION: - 20 Feb 2001 - Microsoft buys out yet again - and yes, they bought a gag order again, so the depth of their defeat cannot be known (except through leaks). Since Microsoft's original victory was ascribed entirely to a bad jury instruction, the judge made it plain Bristol could go another round. Facing almost certain defeat, Microsoft pulled out the 'ol wallet. More at The Register ]

- 1997 - Borland sues Microsoft. Borland is Microsoft's primary competitor in programming tools for the Windows environment, and Borland's tools are widely considered of higher quality and more innovative than Microsoft's. Tired of sabotaging Borland's products by continuously changing Windows and demanding concessions for certain necessary licenses, Microsoft started raiding Borland for its key development personnel, offering signing bonuses exceeding a million dollars. Upon hiring, some of these persons were simply sent on extended vacation. [ CONCLUSION: Microsoft Buys Out Facing a nearly certain loss, Microsoft paid off rather go to trial. As always, Microsoft demanded a gag order on the settlement. ]

- 1998 - Microsoft Loses Suit to SCO. The case was tried in Europe, and since the settlement was worldwide, SCO dropped actions within the United States. An old AT&T contract forced SCO to include obsolete Microsoft code in its Unix operating system and pay a substantial royalty, making SCO's product less competitive.

- 1998 - Microsoft sued by Temp Workers - workers won. In a landmark "abuse of temps" judgment, Microsoft has to pay back benefits. More action is pending. Meanwhile, Microsoft is resorting to even sleazier tricks to avoid paying benefits (temps are forced to quit after a set time, then hired back a week later).

[ CONCLUSION: - Dec-00 - Microsoft agrees to pay $96 million to settle "permatemp" claims. ]

- 1998 - Microsoft Investigated by Japan - In a major antitrust action, the Japanese government raided Microsoft offices and removed all filing cabinets and hard disks for investigation.

[ CONCLUSION: - NOV 1998 - Japan's investigation found Microsoft had used unfair trade practices and has admonished Microsoft, but will not bring the issue to trial as Microsoft has discontinued the bundling practices subject to the investigation. ]

- 1998 - Microsoft Investigated by European Union - ongoing. This is basically the same sort of action as Japan's - less the confiscation of records. (Index)

- 1998 - Department of Justice Investigates Microsoft for Attempting Illegal Collusion - ongoing. Charges may be filed based on Netscape's claim that Microsoft attempted to coerce them into a collusion deal to divide up the Internet. "It was scary, just like a visit from the 'Godfather'" says Netscape's Andresen. It appears just such a deal may have been made with Sybase to divide up the low end SQL database market with Microsoft taking Windows, and Sybase getting everything else. Evidence is insufficient to bring charges at this time.

- 1998 - Department of Justice Investigates Microsoft - ongoing. The current antitrust action is far from all the irons Justice has in the Microsoft fire. Charges on other matters may be brought at any time.

- 1998 - 3Com sues Microsoft - Palm Pilot vs. Palm PC. Microsoft bailed out of this one rather than face yet another loss. It involved one of their favorite tricks: name a copycat product almost identically with the dominant product, then promote the hell out of the (often not yet existent) Microsoft product until the public thinks of Microsoft whenever they hear the name of the competitor's product.

- 1998 - Microsoft Investigated by Ralph Nader - ongoing. Ralph Nader has determined that Microsoft uses predatory business practices which will eventually work to the disadvantage of consumers. Nader's organization has issued a detailed report on Microsoft's business practices which is now being used as a reference by other investigators.

- 1998 - Microsoft Investigated by Congress. Jessie Helms asked hard questions and Bill Gates gave evasive answers in Congressional hearings. Gates repeatedly denied, despite compelling evidence to the contrary, that Microsoft has a monopoly in desktop operating systems. The reason - it would be tantamount to admitting Microsoft is violating antitrust laws.

- 1998 - Spyglass Sues Microsoft - Microsoft Buys Out. Microsoft, upon "discovering" the Internet, needed a Web browser. They licensed one from Spyglass, and promised to pay royalties as a percentage of each sale. The Spyglass browser was enhanced and renamed "Internet Explorer". Microsoft then gave it away free - screwing Spyglass out of its royalties. Spyglass sued for deception and Microsoft bought out of the suit for a one-time fee.

- 1998 - Italy Sues Microsoft - Yet Another Anti-Trust Action. We don't know anything about this one yet, except that it is happening.

- 1998 - Microsoft Faces Charges in Brazil We don't know much about this one yet, but Microsoft has stated, "We aren't doing anything wrong and we will be vindicated"

- 1997 - Cookie Jar Reserve - Former internal audit chief, Charles Pancerzewski, sued Microsoft for forcing him to resign when he brought up the matter of Microsft using a "cookie jar reserve" to Microsoft executives. This tactic is used to smooth earnings reports and violates GAAP (Generally Accespted Accounting Practices) and U.S. securities law. This case was settled out of court with a substantial payment to Mr. Pancerzewski, and as always, Microsoft got the records sealed to prevent public disclosure. Article

- 1995 - Syn'x Relief sues Microsoft for Software Piracy. A number of pioneering 3D animation features developed by French company Syn'x Relief for their product Character. They were negotiating a license for several features to a developer named SoftImage, which was acquired by Microsoft. Negotiations were broken off when SoftImage made unreasonable demands. These features are unambiguous and unique in the industry, and Microsoft promised to remove them all from the SoftImage product. Microsoft did not remove any of them and Syn'x Relief found they had no recourse but to sue.

[CONCLUSION - 8 Dec 2001] - Microsoft was found guilty of software piracy and fined. They promised to appeal to keep this in the courts until Syn'x Relief gives up. - Article

- 1995- Department of Justice sues over Intuit buyout. Microsoft's Balmer declared they intended to charge "vigorish" (a booky's cut) on every electronic financial transaction made. To this end, they set out to buy Intuit, a company which has a near monopoly on on-line banking transactions for their Quicken customers. Intuit's management was more than happy to sell. Since this would give Microsoft a monopoly on personal finance software (91%) and on-line financial transactions, competitors asked for relief from the goverenment. Microsoft showed up in court loaded for bear, with more lawyers than everyone else combined. The first thing they did was subpoena all their competitor's marketing plans. It looked like they had a good chance of getting them - when the case suddenly came to an end.

[ CONCLUSION: Microsoft found they had neglected to respond to a request for information in a timely manner. This placed them at the mercy of the court. Figuring the court was real short of mercy at this point, they cut and ran. Bill Gates got up at a news conference and told the media "This case would distract us from our work", and the Intuit buyout was dropped. ]

- 1994 - Stac sues Microsoft - Wins. In one of the few cases where a victimized company had the resources to sue Microsoft, Stac proved in court that Microsoft had stolen their technology. Microsoft counter sued over a minor point and also won, but millions of dollars went Stac's way. Microsoft then coerced Stac into licensing their technology on terms favorable to Microsoft and Stac is no longer in the disk compression software business.

- 1982 - Digital Research sues Microsoft and IBM - Wins - . It was obvious MS-DOS and its PC-DOS variant were simply rip-offs of Digital Research's CP/M operating system. It remained only to prove it contained DR code. DR's Gary Kildall sat down at an IBM PC supplied by IBM and, using a secret code, got it to pop up a Digital Research copyright notice. It's case won, Digital Research received monetary compensation and the right to clone MS-DOS. This is why Microsoft never sued DR over DR-DOS, but used every other means to destroy it. The settlement was under a strict non- disclosure agreement, so few even know DR sued, never mind that they won. Digital Research was purchased by Novell and destroyed by neglect and mismanagement. The products now belong to Caldera, which has filed suit against Microsoft over predatory practices used to destroy DR-DOS's market.


- k1 - Los Angeles Times - Microsoft Plans Stealth Media Blitz - k2 - ABC News - Microsoft Plans Fake Letters? - k3 - WCCO News - Microsoft Sets Media 'Spamming' - A1 - Israel Strikes - The Register - Israel slams the door on Microsoft - A2 - E-Data Sues - The Inquirer - Firm sues Microsoft over music download service - A3 - Eolas - CNet News.Com - Eolas files motion to enjoin IE - A4 - Eolas - Fox News - Jury Orders Microsoft to Pay More Than $520 Million - A5 - Security Lawsuit - Reuters - Microsoft Faces Class-Action on Security Breaches - A6 - Burst - ZDNet - Did Microsoft 'steal' Media Player 9 technology? - A7 - Class Actions - The Register - Microsoft settles six more suits - A8 - SPX patent - InfoWorld -Microsoft ordered to pay $62M in patent suit - A9 - Real sues Microsoft - The Register - Why Real sued Microsoft - A10 - Real sues Microsoft - eWeek - RealNetworks Sues Microsoft Over Antitrust - A11 - Microsoft responds to Real - eWeek - Microsoft Responds to Real Networks Suit - A12 - Eolas Win - Computerworld - Microsoft ordered to pay $520M in patent dispute - A13 - Eolas Patent Suit - Computerworld - Patent suit targets Windows, IE - A14 - Eolas: USPTO - eWeek - Patent Office to Reconsider Eolas Claims - A15 - Hyperphrase Patent Suit - Computerworld - Microsoft prevails in Office Smart Tag patent suit - A16 - Mythic sues over Mythica - The Register - Mythic sues Microsoft over Mythica


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