EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

08.17.09

How Bill Gates Denied Access to Office File Format Documentation to Stifle Competition

Posted in Antitrust, Bill Gates, Formats, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument at 1:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft’s former chairman shows the company’s attitude towards accessible file formats and competition

IT is interesting enough to know that Microsoft deliberately makes its documentation deficient and unavailable (the word “undocumentation” is actually used internally), but to know who is responsible for it is even more interesting. Comes vs Microsoft Exhibit PX03104 (2000) [PDF] provides an answer which fits the pattern seen in other E-mails.

We’ve recently change the policy for distributing our file formats, at the request of BillG. We used to be fairly lax about giving it out to pretty much everyone who asked for it (Excel even published a book through MS Press).

Our new policy (for Office2000) is that there are restrictions on use (can’t build converters, can’t be a competitor to any of the apps, etc). We required a signed license agreement in hand before we’ll send them the docs. They have to tell us who they are and what their company does, as well as their intended use.

Privileged Material
Redacted

Once we get a copy of the signed agreement back, I sign for Microsoft, and we send them back a hard copy of the agreement via snail mail, and send them the docs via email

This should not be particularly surprising. See other Comes vs Microsoft exhibits that we covered in:

For the investigative, there is more in our Wiki. The full text from this latest exhibit can be found beneath. It is particularly valuable to those who study Microsoft’s reluctance to support open standards, let alone permit other office suites to inter-operate (free of charge). Based on the correspondence below, Microsoft deliberately targets possible competition and hinders access to vital data if the competition is serious. Shouldn’t the European Commission take a look?


Appendix: Comes vs. Microsoft – exhibit PX03104, as text


From: Marc Olson
Sent: Wednesday, May 24, 2000 7:21 AM
To: Norman Gilinsky
Cc: Joel Frauenheim
Subject: RE: Visio file format

Thanks, he sent a message to the alias and I’ve been in touch with him.

—-Original Message—-
From: Norman Gilinsky
Sent: Wednesday, May 24, 2000 7:01 AM
To: Marc Olson
Cc: Joel Frauenheim
Subject: RE: Visio file format

Joel Frauenheim will be handling distribution of file format

Norm

—-Original Message—-
From: Marc Olson
Sent: Monday, May 22, 2000 3:49 PM
To: Norman Gilinsky
Subject: FW: Visio file format

Hi Norm,

I don’t know how urgent this project is–is someone covering the file format distribution in Tim’s absence?

Marc

—-Original Message—-
From: Marc Olson
Sent: Monday, May 22, 2000 7:48 AM
To: Tim Davenport
Cc: Erich Andersen (LCA)
Subject: RE: Visio file format

Hi Tim,

We’ve recently change the policy for distributing our file formats, at the request of BillG. We used to be fairly lax about giving it out to pretty much everyone who asked for it (Excel even published a book through MS Press).

Our new policy (for Office2000) is that there are restrictions on use (can’t build converters, can’t be a competitor to any of the apps, etc). We required a signed license agreement in hand before we’ll send them the docs. They have to tell us who they are and what their company does, as well as their intended use.

Privileged Material
Redacted

Once we get a copy of the signed agreement back, I sign for Microsoft, and we send them back a hard copy of the agreement via snail mail, and send them the docs via email

Marc

<< File Word 2000 License.doc >>

—-Original Message—-
From: Tim Davenport
Sent: Monday, May 15, 2000 5:14 PM
To: Office File Format Request
Subject: Visio file format

Hello.

MS-PCA 2545864
HIGHLY
CONFIDENTIAL


As you may know, Visio is now a Microsoft product. We recently completed the documentation of the Video file format and we want to distribute it in the same manner as the Office docs are distributed. I know that there is a page on MSDN that tells requestors to e-mail this alias and ask for the Office documentation. Do you require that they supply you with the details of what they plan to do with it? Do you make them sign any kind of agreement? Is the documentation stamped with “Microsoft Confidential”?

Thanks for any information you can provide me.

Tim Davenport (Timda)
Program Manager
VIsio

MS-PCA 2545865
HIGHLY
CONFIDENTIAL

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

2 Comments

  1. Jose_X said,

    August 17, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Gravatar

    The “docs’ are garbage whether people sign or not.

    Another Comes quote from the late 1990s I think was about how wine would be much more evolved if wine devs had access to source code and info not discernable from the docs (eg, “bugs”/misimplementations/extensions/etc in MS products).

    Samba had clearly been dealing with headaches and lack of docs by this time.

    These papers being signed might involve patent acknowledgments [?]

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Nowhere does it say what happens if a solid competitor requests those documents.

What Else is New


  1. Alice Case Beats Microsoft Patent Troll, USPTO Director Michelle Lee Wants Reform

    Latest developments surrounding software patents and patent trolls in the United States



  2. Links 7/7/2015: Lenovo ThinkPad With GNU/Linux, More Containers Hype

    Links for the day



  3. There is No 'New Microsoft': Under Nadella, Patent Extortion Against Linux/Android Carries on

    Kyocera is again being targeted by Microsoft, using patent aggression, with a secret settlement being reached whose negative impact on Android remains to be seen



  4. Patent Propaganda, Glamourisation, and Erosion of Citizens' Rights in the Process

    An overview of recent coverage about patents, demonstrative of inherent bias in the world of patent practitioners and the journalists whom they misinform



  5. Corporate Media Should Stop Grooming Black Duck by Calling it 'Open Source' and Repeating Its Lies

    Black Duck uses gullible (or easy to manipulate) journalists to spread its marketing talking points, which grossly overstate risks of using Free software



  6. Links 6/7/2015: Linux 4.2-rc1, YotaPhone Picks Sailfish OS

    Links for the day



  7. Microsoft Windows Unsafe at Any Speed, by Design

    More timely reminders that Windows is simply not designed to be secure, irrespective of version, status of patching, etc.



  8. After Moonlight Dies and Even Microsoft Abandons Silverlight, the Abusive Monopolist Keeps Pushing for Other Microsoft Lock-in, Injecting OOXML Traps Into Free Software (Moodle)

    Despite a long history of Microsoft formats being proven guarantee of digital obsolescence, Moodle allows itself to become Microsoft prey and a Trojan horse for OOXML in classrooms (for children)



  9. Links 4/7/2015: Mostly (Geo)Political Catchup

    Links for the day



  10. Links 3/7/2015: KDE Applications 15.04.3, Ubuntu-Flavored Compute Stick

    Links for the day



  11. Patent Lawyers and Their Firms, Still Desperate to Protect the Status Quo, Manipulate the Media

    Patent lawyers are besieged by gradual tightening of patent scope and recklessly fight back (e.g. by saturating the media) to secure their revenue sources, derived from (and at the expense of) actual scientists and true market producers



  12. Amid Controversy, Political Scrutiny and Increased Media Pressure Željko Topić and Benoît Battistelli Allegedly Cancel Today's Trip to Zagreb (Croatia) Where Topić Faces Many Criminal Charges

    The Croatian press comments on the recent declaration from the Council of Europe and Topić's not-so-sterling status in his home country, where he is wanted for alleged crimes



  13. Microsoft Gradually Embraces, Extends, Extinguishes Linux Foundation as a Foundation of GNU/Linux

    By liaising with (or hijacking) existing members of the Linux Foundation, as well as by paying the Linux Foundation, Microsoft turns the Linux Foundation into somewhat of a Windows advocacy group



  14. Microsoft India Still Lobbies and Lies About Free Software in Order to Knock Down Policy That Favours Free Software

    Microsoft continues to bully Indian politicians who merely 'dare' to prefer software that India can modify, maintain, extend, audit, etc.



  15. Patent Lawyers and Corporate Media Nervous About New Patents Barrier/Reality (Less Patents on Software and Business Methods)

    The rich and the powerful, as well as their lawyers (whose job is to protect their money and power by means of government-enforced monopoly), carry on whining after the Alice case, in which many abstract patents were essentially ruled -- by extension -- invalid



  16. Translation of Pierre-Yves Le Borgn' Speech Against EPO Management and New Parliamentarian Interventions

    More political fire targeting the EPO's management, adding up to over 100 parliamentarians by now



  17. Links 2/7/2015: KDE Plasma 5.3.2, antiX 15

    Links for the day



  18. Links 1/7/2015: OpenDaylight Lithium, OpenMandriva Lx 2014.2

    Links for the day



  19. Munich Press, Münchner Merkur, Slams the Munich-based EPO

    Pressure on Benoît Battistelli to leave (or be fired) grows as the cronies whom he filled his office with have become a huge public embarrassment to the decades-old European Patent Office



  20. The Shameless Campaign to Paint/Portray Free Software as Inherently Insecure, Using Brands, Logos, and Excessive, Selective Press Coverage

    Some more FUD from firms such as Sonatype, which hope to make money by making people scared of Free/libre software



  21. National Insecurity and Blackmail, Courtesy of Microsoft

    British members of parliament (MPs) outsourced their communication to the number one PRISM company and they are paying the price for it; The US Navy's systems continue to be unbelievably insecure (Windows XP), despite access to the world's biggest nuclear arsenal



  22. Microsoft Keeps Shrinking

    As the era of shrink-wrapped software comes to an end so does Microsoft, whose effort to become a 'cloud' company with online operations has been miserable at best



  23. They 'R' Coming: More Microsoft Money for the Linux Foundation

    The problem with having Microsoft in a Linux Foundation initiative, the R Consortium



  24. Speculations About the EPO's Possible Role in DDOS Attacks

    Readers' views on who might be behind the attacks on this site amid confirmation that it's on the 'targets' list of the EPO



  25. Links 30/6/2015: Linux Mint 17.2, OpenMandriva

    Links for the day



  26. Techrights Confirmed as a Target of EPO Surveillance, With Help From Control Risks Group (CRG)

    Unveiling the cloak of secrecy from long-term surveillance by the European Patent Office (EPO) and a London-based mercenary it hired, bypassing the law



  27. Google's Fight to Keep APIs Free is Lost, Let's Hope Google Continues Fighting

    SCOTUS refuses to rule that APIs cannot be considered copyright-'protected', despite common sense and despite Java (which the case is about) being Free/libre software



  28. Patent Trolls in the Post-Alice World

    A round-up of news about patent trolls in the United States, some of whom are are doing well and some of them not as well



  29. DDOS Attacks Against Techrights

    Information about some of the most recent DDOS attacks against this Web site and the steps to be taken next



  30. The Patent System Not What it Used to be, Large Corporations and Patent Lawyers the Principal Beneficiaries

    A look at some recent patent stories and what can be deduced from them, based on statistics and trends


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts