[MD1] Tim O'Reilly's "Open Letter to Microsoft"
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[MD1] Tim O'Reilly's "Open Letter to Microsoft"

CONTACT: Sara Winge, 707/829-0515 x285, sara@oreilly.com


Tim O'Reilly, President and CEO of O'Reilly & Associates, Inc., responds to
the "Halloween Document", an internal Microsoft memorandum analyzing Open
Source software and its potential impact for Microsoft. The memo, posted on
the Internet by Open Source evangelist Eric Raymond two days ago, is at:
An Open Letter to Microsoft

In the already infamous "Halloween Document", you laid out a strategy for
competing with the Open Source movement. You say:

"OSS projects have been able to gain a foothold in many server applications
because of the wide utility of highly commoditized, simple protocols. By
extending these protocols and developing new protocols, we can deny OSS
projects entry into the market."

The point that you seem to miss is that it is these simple, commoditized
protocols and a culture of building freely on the work of others that
brought us the explosion of innovation known as the Internet. And while the
Internet has opened new areas of competition for Microsoft, it has also
opened up enormous opportunities.

I'm not just talking about new information businesses like Expedia. You
have only to look at your two major breadwinners, the Windows operating
system and the Office application suite, to see the positive impact of Open
Source on your bottom line. Internet-enabling Windows and Office has been
the major source of new features that make it worthwhile for customers to
buy new systems or upgrade their applications. Lacking the Internet, you
would have had to rely on such dubious innovations as Microsoft Bob to
drive upgrade revenue. And now you want to undermine Open Source? Try to be

The collaborative, massively distributed development process behind the
Internet and Open Source projects is not your enemy. It is your friend, the
source of basic research that you can turn into your next generation of

At bottom, the Open Source movement is an expression of the Western
academic tradition, innovation and discovery through the free exchange of
ideas. You rig that system at your peril. You have only to look at the
stagnation of Soviet science and industry under a centralized autocratic
system, versus the innovation that happened in our free markets, to see
what fate you have in store for yourselves if you succeed.

Microsoft is too smart a company to sacrifice long-term vitality for
short-term advantage. Instead of trying to crush Open Source, you should
follow the lead of companies like O'Reilly, IBM and Silicon Graphics, who
are supporting various Open Source communities while finding ways to build
commercial added-value products on the open platforms these communities

-- Tim O'Reilly
President and CEO, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.

O'Reilly & Associates is recognized worldwide for its definitive books on
open source software, the Internet, UNIX, programming, and Windows NT. From
their pioneering bestseller "The Whole Internet User's Guide & Catalog"
(the book that introduced the Internet to the public) to GNN (the first
Internet portal and commercial website) to WebSite (the first web server
software for desktop PCs), O'Reilly has been at the forefront of Internet
development. Building on its expertise, O'Reilly has also produced
award-winning Internet software and innovative web-based courses. The
company's active support of open source software extends beyond its
publishing program. O'Reilly has taken the lead in promoting and
legitimizing open source software by hosting the historic April, 1998 Open
Source Summit and producing Open Source Development Day and an annual Perl


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