08.04.07

From Technical Sabotage to Political Games (Including Exclusionary Deal)

Posted in Antitrust, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, Xandros at 8:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Go for the seniors. Go get ‘em. Talk politics.

What Conlin once referred to as “technical sabotage” is one among several illegal tactic which Microsoft uses to elevate its own products. We regret forgetting to mention this wonderful recent example. In an interview, Jeremy Allison had something to share. Quoting a pointer, ‘in the section of the interview from around 33m30s to 39m00 Jeremy Allison reports how he was told that the Microsoft team implementing SMB2 were ordered to “f**k with Samba”‘. Nice, isn’t it?

Having covered this part yesterday, we move on to other examples from the DR-DOS era. We wish to show that Microsoft used not only technical means, but also diplomatic means to promote its own products in an anti-competitive (and probably illegal) fashion.

Remind yourself of the fact that Novell, Linspire, and Xandros signed deals with Microsoft because Microsoft paid them plenty of money. Then, these companies offered support for formats that they used to ignore, if not ridicule. Microsoft bought its way into a kingdom of lock-in — thriving in formats that only Microsoft itself can implement proper support for. This was not the first time that we saw Microsoft turning a technical argument into a political one. Money is usually involved in one way or another.

Looking into the past to find historical examples, we quickly find a couple. Microsoft is ‘helping’ Sears rewrite their DR-DOS contract [PDF] in the following story. Mind the parts on Windows compatibility (or conversely — incompatibility).

REDACTED

From: Brad Silverberg
To: Jon Kecbejian
Cc: Brad Chase; SYS MS-DOS Marketing Team
Subject: RE: Sears – Navy Lapheld Contract Win
Date: Monday, June 01, 1992 2:57 PM

excellent work

From: Jon Kecbejian
To: Brad Silverberg
Cc: Brad Chase; SYS MS-DOS Marketing Team
Subject: Sears – Navy Lapbeld Contract Win
Date: Monday, June 01, 1992 1:57 PM

Debbie Raa (MS Federal Sales Rep) and I called on Sears Business Systems – Federal Group in their Washington, DC, offices on May 13, 1992. Sears had recently won the Navy LapHeld contract (25,000 to 75,00 PCs per year
for three years – the only notebook award in the Federal government) which included DR-DOS. Debbie and I met with Sears’ technical leads to discuss DR-DOS support issues (versus MS-DOS) and the future Windows compatibility in an effort to get Sears to replace DR_DOS 6 with MS-DOS 5. Sears said they were going with DR-DOS unless DR cannot abide by the terms of the Navy contract. Sears was content to let DR assume the risk of Windows compatibility.

Debbie Rae and Brett Swartz found a clause in the navy contract requiring compatibility with Windows and got the Navy to insist Sears honor it. After Debbie and I made clear to Sears DR-DOS and Windows compatibility would always be a major issue, as well as DR’s regular “business” updates for which Sears is responsible, Sears included a clause guaranteeing DR-DOS would be compatible with Windows now and in the future in Sears’ agreement with DR. DR’s lawyers refused to sign the contract.

In the course of a week Don Hardwick and I were in daily contact with Sears to address immediate support and education issues (MS-DOS (JonK) and Windows (TyCar)). product needs (creating disk images in 1.44MB format so the current Sears packaging could be maintained), and getting the OEM agreement signed.

The deal was signed Friday, May 29, with Sears solidly behind MS-DOS and already looking to swap the bid applications for Windows and Windows applications. Sears expects to sell at least 150,000 PCs over the life of this contract to Federal agencies.

Jon

REDACTED

Here is Microsoft testing DR-DOS for incompatibility [PDF], for those wishing to explore further.

Other areas I know DR-DOS is weak:

* Their disk cache sucks

* They probably have problems with some rational extended programs such as lotus release 3.1 when they’re loaded in the HMA.

Should test them with QEMM (their has been talk on their forum that QEMM doesn’t support them).

I added philba, tomle, and mikedr to cc line. They may have some good input.

Eric.

> From sergiop Wed MAr 20 16:11:16 1991
To: ericst; jimla; johnen; terrib
Subject: dr dos compatibility testing
Date: Tue Mar 20 16:05:26 pdt 1990

DOS Marketing would like to have a second round of dr dos testing done. After speaking with Terri, she mentioned to me that XCAL tested dos 5 in a networking environment with dos and windows apps.

I would like to have a similar test done with dr dos 5. This way we can see how dr dos and dos 5 compare under the same environment.

While XCAl did an extensive study of dos 5 using a variety of apps, I think we might want to take a subset of those apps for dr dos. This would keep the costs down but still compare apples to apples.

Here is where I need your help. I want to come up with a list of those appls that we think are best suited to test with dri. I want dri tested with networking software, a memory manager, dos and win apps and anything else you can think of that might raise some degree of incompatibility.

FIY, our Windows PSS people are receiving calls reporting problems with dr dos and win 3.

In order to tell a strong story we need to explore where dr dos is vulnerable.

From: richf
To: dosmktg
Subject: FW: DR DOS Surveys
Date: Wed, Apr 24, 1991 1:22 PM

Date: Wed, Apr 24, 13:19:32 PDT 1991

8 responces – not huge, but not all that low, actually, in any case, people are having problems with dr and windows. we’re not making it up.

> From: clarkh Tue Apr 23 17:29:04 1991
To: richf sergiop
Cc: sharonm
Subject: DR DOS Surveys
Date: Tue Apr 23 17:28:55 PDT 1991

The survey is over. We had a whopping 8 responces. Seven from DOD-SYS
group and 1 from “other”

Eight DR DOS users

– Six were running Windows 3.0
– Two of these required a special configuration,
two did not, two were unknown.

– Five related the problem to an incompatibility
with DR DOS, one was unknown

– Three had their system hang, two had a seriously
impared system, one a minor inconvenience.

– One Quick C 2.5 user
– No special configuration

– Problem was unrelated to DR DOS

– A minor inconvenience.

– One DR DOS user switching to MS-DOS
– No special configuration

– Having compatibility problems with 3rd party software.

– Seriously impared

The survey text follows:

DR DOS Survey

Instructions: Please incorporate the customer survey into your routine. If you find that an application is running on top of Digital research DOS and that the problem the customer is encountering is related, include all the rlevant information. If more space is needed to describe the problem, please use the back of the sheet.

Customer Survey

1. What operating system are you using? (If DR DOS please continue.)

2. What Microsoft application are you using?

DR DOS user

#1 ________________

DR DOS user

#2 ________________

3. Was a special configuration necessary to run with DR DOS (If yes,
please explain.)

user

#1 ________________

#2 ________________

Technician Survey

1. Was the problem related to an incompatibility with DR DOS? (If yes, a
brief description.)

user

#1 ________________

#2 ________________

2. What was the severity level of the problem?
(1 = system hangs, 2 = Seriously impairs, 3 = minor inconvenience)

#1 ________________
#2 ________________

From: bradc
To: juliewis
Cc: bradc; philla; richf
Subject: RE: DR DOS
Date: Mon, Apr 29, 1991 11:18 AM

Date: Sun, Apr 28, 11:16:12 PDT 1991

is this the post office that we just gave permission to roll out a boatload of copies or someone else?

I do not want to give up any major account to dri. Julie pls get us more info so we can help or set up a meeting where we can present and understand their issues.

Brad

> From: richf Fri Apr 26 11:36:42 1991
To: juliewis
Cc: bradc; juliewis; philla; richf
Subject: RE: DR DOS
Date: Fri Apr 26 11:33:03 PDT 1991

Working on a 286 and 386 CPU version. None specific how they will deliver, as one or 3 different SKUs. Hints that th new version will fine tune their memory management, add Data security and better utilise the HD storage capacity. (unsure if this means compression or less gaps) He is convinced to get a next verson out this summer. He hints that the public should look forward and judge themselves of this could be jsut a new version or a new generation. Brad what do we know about this?

From: richardf
To: bradc
Cc: jeffl; joachimk; oemman; ronh
Subject: dr win
Date: Fri, Jun 28, 1991 5:49 PM

Date: Fri, Jun 28, 17:48:43 1991

DRI is agressing big time, in our accounts. This past week marks more activity that we have seen from them than ever before we have seen this press release, run into them at a start up down in LA and in Swan
computer an account we do value (FG DOS goig to royalty DOS) Brad i do not know where the 250k units came from, we have not data to suggest. Entertainment marketing is that big, they are the guys who sell inexoensive things on the cable shopping nework. (YES we HATE losing them.) If we know about the fact we are in competition we will employ you Kathleen do we need help on Swan ?

We will redouble our efforts to compat these guys. I have a few ideas myself.

richardf

> From: bradc Fri Jun 28 14:07:28 1991
To: jeffl; richardf; ronh; sergiop
Subject: dr win
Cc: bradc
Date: Fri Jun 28 14:05:55 1991

i’m confused. did dr get a win with this premier company for 250K units a year or is the other mail trying to imply otherwise, could you clarify this for me?

If yes, i’m sure yu are as angry about this as i am. we may not get every win, but i would really like to know ahead of time when an account is close to dr, and it appears that in this case we may have had no idea if dr is getting close

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