Bonum Certa Men Certa

A Personal Note From Ted MacReilly (How Microsoft Works Against GNU/Linux)

Microsoft actually wrote this:

Microsoft dirty tactics



Summary: A tongue-in-cheek write-up highlighting the ways Microsoft insiders think and how they strategise against GNU/Linux and Free/libre software

The pseudonym of the author of this series (written by a fictitious character to highlight yet again authentic Microsoft leaks) has this update:







I am writing this from Gedit in the "Disco Dingo" version of Ubuntu LTS. I should probably explain.

The Brazilian Python Association and Python Software Foundation are having an event in São Paulo. I was hoping to attend but I have conflicting obligations in October, so I decided to travel to Ribeirão Preto and meet with the community there. I wanted to look into the event preparations and get a feel for what will be going on later this year.

During the trip, I kept thinking back to a strange thing that happened while writing my handbook for destroying free software. For all my life, I have loved powerful corporations like Microsoft and IBM. I love technological marvels. I have always considered these free software developers to be ripoff artists: unoriginal, self-aggrandizing imposters and software engineer wannabes.

"Like Gates, Facebook talks like it's running a charity-- not a corporate platform for global surveillance."I have always been steeped in corporate culture. My late mother worked in marketing, my father was an industry man and retired less than rich, but comfortable. Looking back at my career so far, I feel like I take more after my mother. My parents were both hard working but I think my father tolerated the industry, while mother was a true believer.

But back to Brazil-- when I was writing the handbook, I thought about how the original Halloween documents were leaked, and wondered if that would ever happen to my handbook. What would people think of it? The Halloween documents are nearly forgotten, people don't pay them much attention anymore. A lot of people think that they are an old playbook, that Microsoft has suddenly stopped trying to destroy its competitors.

That's simply hilarious. As my mother would tell you, the job of corporations is to say and do whatever is necessary to succeed. There's a certain obsessive focus in that regard, a fundamental selfishness. But it goes beyond that, because the definition of success for large corporations is to be at the very top of the game-- both in competition with other businesses, and in terms of constantly moving upwards from quarter to financial quarter. YOU DO NOT CEDE. Cooperation is a diplomatic move, a tactical move, it is not a way of doing things in and of itself.

Sure, you may truly believe in cooperation. You may think of collaboration as something shared between participants. For a large company it is just another means to an end-- a foot in the door, a place at the table. If you can reach across to the head of the table and stab your host and take his place, that's what you do. Until then, you wait. You get away with a lot more being polite than always tipping your hand.

"They were reading an article from ZDNet about Microsoft and poking fun at it."On that note, I completely understand if you do not trust the intentions of what I'm saying. I've given you no reason to do so. I have followed my heart through my career, even when it put more value on corporate success than personal integrity. I do not ask for your trust, I will not even beg for your attention.

When I was thinking about the possibility of the handbook getting leaked, a strange thought-- as if from somewhere else-- suddenly crossed my mind.

"Good."

"Good?" What? What's good, everyday people finding out more about these tactics? As I said in the book: "manipulation works more effectively if we are quiet about doing it-- or even deny that it makes any sort of difference." It's important to appear as friendly as possible, and let shills and fans do our dirty campaigning for us.

It doesn't help if people know our tactics. Microsoft has obviously continued moving forward with every working tactic in the original documents (and Techrights can certainly make this more apparent to anybody interested) but after stating their real intentions, Microsoft (as well as Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook) have shifted their rhetoric over time. Like Gates, Facebook talks like it's running a charity-- not a corporate platform for global surveillance. (Zuck the philanthropist? Dumb fucks!)

I realize you might think I'm playing the same game here. I want the legacy of being a philanthropist too. But I'm not looking for your money, or your trust. I'm only looking to for an opportunity to talk, if somebody wants to listen.

I still don't know why I thought "good" at the prospect of the handbook getting leaked. But as I sat in a bar in São Paulo, trying to think of ways the Python convention could be exploited by various software companies, I saw some college kids on laptops, laughing and talking. They were reading an article from ZDNet about Microsoft and poking fun at it.

"For whatever reason, they thought if I was forced to tell the world that corporations work exactly the same now as they did 20 years ago when "Linux" was fairly new, I might reconsider my position."At first I just listened, but I picked up my drink and cautiously made my way over, trying to decide whether I wanted to talk to them. When I finally asked what they thought of the article, it started a conversation that would go on for more than an hour. They showed me some articles they thought were more thoughtful, more honest. We debated a few minor points, the way you might in a bar or with friends, not a boardroom or editorial. I went back to my hotel and did some more reading.

I sent the handbook to Techrights myself, I knew they were going to get it eventually anyway. I knew through a friend of mine that it was going to be leaked anyway. But the people who had it gave me a heads up, and some advice.

"Why don't you leak it yourself?" The email taunted. For whatever reason, they thought if I was forced to tell the world that corporations work exactly the same now as they did 20 years ago when "Linux" was fairly new, I might reconsider my position.

I still don't know why even for a moment, part of me hoped this very thing would happen. Maybe it's watching my father grow older, the memory of my mother's cynical view of the world-- maybe it really is worth a look at the other side of open source, for a change.

Maybe I feel bad, but I'm not telling you this by way of apology. I'm not even sure how I really feel about all this. But something has changed, and I'm not going to stop writing about the software world just because I lack the certainty I felt in my mission against Free software and Open source.

If you've ever felt this way, I don't know what to tell you. There's another side to this story. If you find it, you might want to tell someone about it. Your next job will then be to find out who's interested in the other side of the story.

MacReilly, June 2019

"Apple was once a small company taking on giants from a garage."

Previously in this series:

Introduction: Cover and quick Introduction [PDF]

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

Chapter 2: Work with the system-- Use OEMs and your legal team [PDF]

Chapter 3: Playing the victim-- Show the world that too much freedom hurts development [PDF]

Chapter 4: You get what you pay for-- Getting skeptics to work for you [PDF]

Chapter 5: Open Source Judo-- How to bribe the moderates to your side [PDF]

Chapter 6: Damning with faint praise-- Take the right examples of free software and exploit them for everything [PDF]

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

Chapter 8: A foot in the door-- how to train sympathetic developers and infiltrate other projects [PDF]

Chapter 9: Ownership through Branding-- Change the names, and change the world [PDF]

Chapter 10: Moving forward-- Getting the best results from Open source with your monopoly [PDF]

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