Avie Tevanian's determined defence of his assertion that Microsoft tried to strong-arm Apple into abandoning multimedia playback took a spicier turn today, as the subject of infanticide just kind of spilled out.
According to Tevanian, in a meeting last year Microsoft's Christopher Phillips was, as usual according to the Apple script, demanding the serious downscaling of QuickTime operations in exchange for continued friendship. "Do you want us to knife the baby [i.e. QuickTime]?" asked the Apple rep present, Peter Hoddie. Allegedly (Tevanian wasn't actually there, so this is one of those hearsay things), Phillips responded: "Yes, we're talking about knifing the baby."
We at The Register recommend running a series of reality checks at this point. It is perfectly plausible that some Microsoft execs might figure they're powerful enough for it to be fun to adopt a Corleone persona (TM Marc Andreessen), although it's a little tragic if they have to be prompted by Apple execs in order to do so. But actually, how important to Apple's operations as a whole is/was QuickTime? It's a small section of the business, and although it has been pretty successful that success is/was dependent on continued support from Apple's erstwhile allies - outfits like IBM who've shown in the past how willing they are to fight Microsoft to the last Mac.
And how much money does it make? Exactly. As Apple can't/couldn't trust its old allies, and couldn't afford to sustain major industry-wide initiatives, even without threats it would probably have downscaled QuickTime. The point about the QuickTime episode, we humbly submit, is not whether or not Microsoft threatened, but how the entire Microsoft software development machine squeezes out non-Microsoft software like QuickTime by extending Microsoft operating software into the territory the rival software previously occupied.
Tevanian has already done a fair job of showing how this process works (How the Microsoft machine crushed Apple).