Smoking Gun/e-mail in Novell v M$

The judge yesterday refused to dismiss the case against M$ so it will continue. I cannot see the jury deciding for M$ given this “smoking gun” in Bill Gates’ hand:
“From: Bill Gates
To: Bill Bass; Bob Muglia; Brad Silverberg; Brad Struss; Brian MacDonald; Chris Guzak; Chris Peters; Darryl Rubin; Doug Henrich; Erik Gavriluk; Jim Allchin; Joe Belfiore; Kurt Eckhardt; Leif Pederson; Mike Koss; Paul Maritz; Russell Siegelman; Satoshi Nakajima; Steve Madigan; Tom Evslin
Cc: Brian Fleming
Subject: Shell plans – iShellBrowser
Date: Monday, October 3, 1994 5:18PM

Its time for a decision on iShellBrowser.

This is a tough decision. The Chicago team has done some great work in developing a user interface that will be a big step forward for millions of people. The explorer is an important part of this because it provides a neat paradigm for finding interesting information. The shell group did a good job defining extensibility interfaces. It is also very late in the day to making changes to Chicago and Capone.

It is hard to know how much actual market benefit iShellBrowser integration would bring. I believe Chicago will be very successful either way. Unfortunately I don’t think the integration will have a marked effect in terms of Capone competing with cc:Mail, so that battle will have to be won on other grounds. This is not to say that there was anything wrong with the extensions – on the contrary they are a very nice piece of work.

On the other hand, we are in a real struggle vs. Notes and the Office/REN team needs to move as quickly as they can to deliver really rich, unified views of information and to provide and exploit storage unification as systems makes that possible, and we need as clear as path as possible to allow them to do that. The Ren team has a lot of challenges and compatibility would be an extra effort for them of at least 5 men years. If we felt we could expand this team easily to help Office, beat Notes, be a source of future shell technology and be compatible then I would say the extensions are ok. However the Ren team will find it tough to deliver on all of these even without compatibility.

I have decided that we should not publish these extensions. We should wait until we have a way to do a high level of integration that will be harder for the likes of Notes, Wordperfect to achieve, and which will give Office a real advantage. This means that Capone and Marvel can still live in the top level of the Explorer namespace, but will run separately. We can continue to use the iShellBrowser APIs for MS provided views such as control panel, and can use them for other MS-provided views that don’t create a large compatibility or ISV issue.

I would also like to add a few words about the recent Shell re-organization. We have done from three centers of UI innovation to two. There is a lot of pain in doing this. All 3 groups were doing excellent work and I hope the Cairo shell and Ren can come together to provide the best of both. I think there will be real benefits to be reaped. Having the Office team really think through the information intensive scenarios, and be a demanding client of systems is absolutely critical to our future success. We can’t compete with Lotus and Wordperfect/Novell without this. Our goal is to have Office ’96 sell better because of the shell integration work, and to have the Ren/Office effort yield technology that can be an integral part of the shell in Windows ’97. I look forward to the Office team getting excited about using Component Forms, OLE automation, OFS, etc. in the future – and pushing systems much harder than before.”

That’s the case in a nutshell. The icing on the cake are documented presentations where M$ boasted to ISVs about the advantages of using the new APIs for that other OS. By keeping them private, M$ sabotaged WordPerfect which relied on them. Having to replace tons of code required the release of WordPerfect for Lose ’95 to be delayed for months during which time, many sales of M$’s product occurred.

see the e-mail at Groklaw

see the blow by blow description of what happened in court at Groklaw

Of course, Gates denied history and M$ was caught lying again. The judge was on the verge of dismissing the case based on M$’s lies but Novell persuaded him to do his duty. I can see this e-mail being front and centre in Novell’s summation to the jury. I cannot see any reasonable jury finding for M$ after re-re-reading it.

See also this account of Gates’ current testimony, “The name space extensions are pretty irrelevant when it comes to word processing and spreadsheets…”

Yeah, right, that’s what you meant when you wrote, “We can’t compete with Lotus and Wordperfect/Novell without this.”

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2 Responses to Smoking Gun/e-mail in Novell v M$

  1. Clarence Moon says:

    I don’t see what the fuss is all about here. It looks like Microsoft invented some functions that were thought to be useful for their Office product line and decided not to put them into the OS, keeping them proprietary since they thought it would give them some advantage over competitors.

    If you buy Office, it installs these extension DLLs and uses them. From what I know about other applications, they do the same thing. Oracle’s database, for example, installs a lot of functions that talk directly to the disk drives to manage data exchanges and so make Oracle work better than other database products. Adobe does the same thing with their applications.

    What is the big deal?

  2. Kozmcrae says:

    I’m sure Bill Gates spent some time with his lawyers grilling him and preparing him for any kind of cross examination he might face on the witness stand. They couldn’t possibly let him crumble into a fetal position again like he did on Judge Pennfield Jackson’s witness stand. That’s the Bill Gates you see when someone has authority over him and demands that he tells what he knows.

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