MS offered IBM Win95 source for ‘neutral’ PC

A neutral PC, friends, is one that only comes with MS software


MS on Trial In March of 1997 IBM and Microsoft were negotiating a renewed alliance which would boost IBM's use of Microsoft software, and give IBM access to the source code of Windows 95, according to documentation produced at the Microsoft trial yesterday. Microsoft had been trying to bludgeon IBM into co-operation with a mix of carrots and sticks for several years, and yesterday's documents show first, that Microsoft still wanted to take out Lotus SmartSuite, and second, that Bill Gates was still calling the shots. The notes taken at the time by IBM exec Garry Norris make it clear that Microsoft's demands were coming from the top, and show the extraordinary lengths the company was prepared to go to in order to get its way. Teams from the two companies met in IBM's Raleigh facility to discuss what appears to have been a wide-ranging alliance. Lead member for IBM was Ozzie Osbourne of the PC Company, while Bengt Akerlind fronted for Microsoft. Norris' notes of the meeting say "BPC. IBM first chair in exchange for system loaded with Office." The BPC was the Broadcast PC, intended to be a joint development project between IBM and Microsoft. By "first chair" Norris explains his notes as meaning that IBM would get an early-to-market advantage from the co-development. Presumably the arrangement would have been that Microsoft would have the right to offer the technologies developed to other OEMs, but would give IBM a 60 day clear run before it did so. In exchange, IBM would dump SmartSuite and load Office on its machines. Next the notes read: "IE 4.0. In exchange, neutral system and soft dollars. KPC in exchange for neutral system." Asked about this in court yesterday Norris said: "Microsoft defined the neutral system that contained Microsoft [operating?] software, application software, and no IBM or competing software." This means IBM would preload IE 4.0 without Netscape ("Bengt was very specific. He said, 'No Netscape."), and in exchange would get Microsoft cash via joint promotions, advertising or reduced licence fees. And KPC? The Kirkland Programming Center in Redmond was an operation run by IBM, and this would become a self-certification laboratory, or Windows Hardware Qualification Laboratory (WHQL). IBM would have the NT source code on-site (it already had this) and "we would get new access to the Windows 95 and BackOffice source code." That's a pretty massive carrot, but what about the stick? That's the self-certification bit. Said Norris: "Oftentimes when we would send systems to Microsoft to get them certified and placed on the compatibility list, we would send them and somehow they got lost." Oops. "It would take 60 to 90 days to get systems certified on their compatibility list. Competitors were taking one to two weeks. We'd send systems in May and they'd come back in August finally on the list." Akerlind elaborated on what constituted a "neutral" system, according to Norris' notes: "Bengt. SmartSuite, World Book [a competitor to MS Encarta], Notes. Remove objectionable apps and make the systems neutral." But the carrot itself receded. At a later meeting Microsoft's Ted Hannum came up with the interesting concept of "horizontal restraint," and the notes read: "Horizontal restraint. Lowering the value of the system to end user" and "CDT. No ship with NTW and SmartSuite. Then KPC. No SS or CDT shipping with NTW. QPQ access to source, NT and BackOffice and 95. T1 line. Better support." This means Hannum was demanding that IBM commercial desktop brand PCs running NT Workstation shouldn't ship with SmartSuite. Quid Pro Quo (QPQ) would be the source, a T1 line at KPC and better support. We can only speculate about what "horizontal restraint" meant - Norris doesn't seem to have done much of a job explaining it yesterday, but to be fair, he confesses he didn't understand it at the time. Reducing functionality by ripping out Lotus apps? Whatever, the Broadcast PC was abandoned, the reborn Microsoft-IBM alliance didn't happen either, and here we all are in court. ® Complete Register trial coverage


Other stories you might like

  • ESA's 2030+ roadmap envisions Europeans on the Moon and Mars
    But the agency is distinctly aware that it needs more autonomy

    The European Space Agency (ESA) has released a strategy roadmap to take it into the 2030s and beyond.

    The publication comes on the eve of much-anticipated images from the James Webb Space Telescope, on which ESA partnered with NASA and others, but that makes one of the themes of the roadmap all the more stark – ESA needs more autonomy.

    "As recent events have shown," the document begins, "the geopolitical context can unexpectedly become unstable."

    Continue reading
  • Biden considers removal of Trump-era China tariffs to ease inflation
    But US administration split on loss of leverage, according to reports

    US president Joe Biden is debating whether to end or cut Trump-era tariffs imposed on Chinese imports into the United States, according to reports.

    Introduced in 2018 during the Trump administration, tariffs on more than $300 billion in imports from China — including products and components vital in consumer and business technologies — were inherited by the Biden administration.

    According to Bloomberg, president Biden and his cabinet have discussed the inflationary impact of these levies with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. The cabinet was looking at all of the possible ways to curb inflation and to provide some relief on cost of living for Americans, the report said.

    Continue reading
  • Semiconductor market to be hit by fresh wave of rising component costs
    Chemicals supplier warns it expects to raise prices, may cut some product lines

    More red flags about the semiconductor market are being raised with the news that a key supplier to chipmakers such as TSMC is planning to hike prices, which will likely have a knock-on effect on chip prices.

    Japan-based chemicals company Showa Denko has warned it expects to raise prices and may have to cut back some of its unprofitable product lines. The company is a major supplier of chemicals and gases that are used in the semiconductor manufacturing industry for the creation of silicon wafers and in the etching process to create chips.

    In an interview with Bloomberg, Showa Denko chief financial officer Hideki Somemiya said the company had already raised prices at least a dozen times this year, citing issues such as COVID-19 lockdowns, increasing energy costs and other factors. However, he confirmed "the current market moves require us to ask twice the amount we had previously calculated."

    Continue reading
  • Germany unveils plan to tackle cyberattacks on satellites
    Vendors get checklist on what to do when crooks inevitably turn up in space

    The German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) has put out an IT baseline protection profile for space infrastructure amid concerns that attackers could turn their gaze skywards.

    The document, published last week, is the result of a year of work by Airbus Defence and Space, the German Space Agency at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and BSI, among others. It is focused on defining minimum requirements for cyber security for satellites and, a cynic might say, is a little late to the party considering how rapidly companies such as SpaceX are slinging spacecraft into orbit.

    The guide categorizes the protection requirements of various satellite missions from "Normal" to "Very High" with the goal of covering as many missions as possible. It is also intended to cover information security from manufacture through to operation of satellites.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022