Winning API wars

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Date: October 1997


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From: John Frederiksen
Sent: Monday, October 27, 1997 9:45 AM
To: Mike Nash
Subject: FW: PR Training Confirmation and Reading Material


Mike, I am currently confirmed for the Thursday of this class, but not for Friday. I had scheduled to take Wed through Fri of that week off to visit my Father on the east coast prior to the following weeks reviewers tour. I moved the trip back by two days but need to travel on Friday. I just wanted to make sure that you were aware of this. John F.

---Original Message-
From: Erin Holland (W=3Faggener Edstrom)
Sent: Monday, October 27, 1997 9:35 AM
To: Bill Shaughnessy; Frank Artale; John Frederiksen; Enzo Schiano; Ed 
Muth; Karan Khanna; Gary Schare; Jeff Price; Stephanie
Ferguson; Jonathan Perera; Tanya van Dam
Cc: Mike Nash; Heidi Meslow 0Naggener Edstrom); Rich Tong; Kelly 
Lymburn; Kathleen Mallory (Intemet) (Waggener Edstrom);
Megan McKenzie (Waggener Edstrom); Rachel Weikum; Travis Bishop 
(Waggener Edstrom); Laurie Smith DeJong (Intemet)
(Waggener Edstrom)
Subject: PR Training Confirmation and Reading Material

You are confirmed for Principles of PR training! We=3Fll see you at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday at the Bellefield Conference Center (address and directions below.) Again, here are the logistics for the training session (lunch will be served on Thursday and Friday for those attending the afternoon session). I have also attached the reading materials below.

..

Re.engaging the Industry

We have developed a way of working where the negatives about Microsoft=3Fs image are addressed by corporate PR programs which talk to non-industry audiences and don=3Ft really involve the Microsoft divisions. It makes sense to be doing these corporate programs and addressing the broad audiences and we should keep doing so, but it=3Fs worth visiting whether we should also do some work to address image issues at the industry level.

Before the Internet became a focal point, Microsoft had gained the perception as the undisputed center of the PC industry. Microsoft was Windows and the industry revolved around it. The primary requirement was to move the platform technology forward and share it freely with developers. Over time, Microsoft began to lessen its participation in industry forums because Microsoft essentially owned the agenda. Although competitors and others in the industry still looked at Microsoft with animosity, the industry had reached a period of relative order. Thus it was determined that a Microsoft-centric communication strategy was the most efficient at accomplishing the company=3Fs marketing objectives. It was deemed better to have our own events rather than participating in industry events.

Things have changed.

Bill has said that no company has moved successfully from one era to the next. With the rise of the lnternet, Microsoft is working to make a technical and marketing transition without sacrificing its position of leadership and control. Because this is consistent with what customers want, it=3Fs a reasonable path. But perceptually, the ground has shifted under our feel, and characters are being redrawn. Rather than leading "the" industry, Microsoft is now seen as a participant in an industry whose character is still being determined. Intemet pioneers will say the party was already going and Microsoft just showed up. Industry animosity is increasing. Whenever there is change, there is uncertainty and fear. In this case, there is fear about what the outcome of Microsoft=3Fs forays in the Internet era will mean for other companies. People assume that Microsoft=3Fs goal is to control Microsoft=3Fs rapid turnaround, which was established firmly in people=3Fs minds by the Kathy Rebello story in Business Week and echoed by many others, is leading people to wonder if Microsoft will be the only company to ultimately succeed in the Internet space. It is this fear that Reback and others are tapping into.

The editorial community is intensely interested in who will win. There is a sense of delight in the editorial community about the new foment in the industry. It makes for more interesting stories. Thus, the many companies who did not succeed in the PC industry as well as Microsoft are working fervently to assure that Microsoft does not make the transition to the next phase. The interesting thing is that with the prominent exception of Netscape, most of the new "enemies" are really the old enemies -- Sun, Oracle, IBM. However, given Microsoft=3Fs overwhelming dominance, these historic competitors have successfully recast themselves as the new guard, protecting the industry from Microsoft domination.

None of this has much to do with real customer problems that need to be solved and technology solutions that we need to communicate. Microsoft shouldn=3Ft stop engaging in a substantive dialogue and talking about its vision for the Internet. Indeed, we need to be less presumptive and spend more time educating about our technical approach (see discussion about Active Platform, the future of applications, the push model, and the media strategy). Clearly communicating our directions will help make Microsoft more predictable and, therefore, less vulnerable to negative and uninformed assumptions. The goal is to diminish the fear.

We also need to recognize the perceptual shifts and re-engage in the industry. We need to be willing to appear to be listening and learning shoulder-to-shoulder with other companies. We need to stop holding ourselves apart from the rest of the industry and focus on more give- andtake in our communication. The point here is that it is better for Microsoft to be perceived as a participant and a bearer of new business opportunity, than the company that wants to accrue all the good business for itself, to the exclusion of others. There is almost a formulaic approach to coverage when MS gets into a new business -- if Microsoft enters a business, everyone else better look out because MS will get 90 % of it. Based on some key businesses, namely Windows and the applications business, that would be a reasonable conclusion. However the Internet world is a far different place. Many many companies will be founded and prosper. To the extent that the perception of much success is fostered, it will help Microsoft=3Fs image.

One way to address this is for Microsoft to participate more in industry gatherings. It=3Fs easy to stay home from these since the topics are often stacked against Microsoft. But if we are really motivated to share our vision, we=3Fll be willing to be perceived as taking it to others, not exclusively asking people to come to ours. Microsoft is well known by press and analysts but we are relatively invisible to the rest of the industry. Being unknown leads to being misunderstood. In addition, more executives need to be engaged in the work of corporate image. Specifically, we should:

  • Continue to emphasize context-setting, explaining and discussing the

implications of our strategy.

  • Promote executives as ambassadors and insist they not only speak at

MS-sponsored events but at industry conferences, where they should not only share the Microsoft vision but stay to listen and discuss issues with others. In addition, the tone of Microsoft tradeshow booths and other corporate participation needs to be open and inclusive.

  • Replicate the Hood Canal exercise with other editors and other MS

execs in attendance; for instance, what if we had Paulma and Bradsi sit down with editors and talk about the future of applications?

  • Hold an IMG Day for editors, not to pitch our products for coverage,

but to address strategy and content issues in an interactive way with people who care about them (see below for comments about fears about Microsoft as a media company).

Thought for 1997

  • To project more humility, re-emphasize in all press and industry

interactions the demonstrated signs of curiosity, openness and discovery.

  • Undertake more relationship-building with Silicon Valley influentials

and editors. A lot of the animosity about Microsoft is engendered by its lack of visibility to Silicon Vailey.

  • Rekindle developer relations in a more visible way. Ever since we

"won" the last set of API wars, we=3Fve been less effective here. We address this opportunity later in this memo. The olher thing we can focus on is for Microsoft to control some of the negative dialogue by talking about our challenges ourselves. We should be looking for stories, op-ed and speech opportunities on topics such as:

  • why we haven=3Ft won -- we have much respect for our competitors.
  • what we=3Fve learned from mistakes.
  • what we worn about.
  • how PCs can be better.

..

Today, we appear to be talking out of both sides of our mouth. On the one hand, we claim to love Java, to provide IE on multiple platforms, and to offer Active Platform as OS-agnostic. On the other hand, we denigrate Java apps as "least common denominator" and claim that by writing to Windows system services, developers can create better apps. To an unbiased observer, it appears that we are promoting two platforms -- Windows and Active Platform. To a less generous observer, it appears that we are feigning support for Java while secretly pushing Windows and trying to dominate the Internet with our legacy power. Once again, it appears Microsoft is only interested in controlling the platform.


Full Exhibit

http://boycottnovell.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/px02783.pdf

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