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To read comments to this article, go here
Comes Exhibit 2151 - Gates: "I have decided we should not publish these extensions." - Updated
Thursday, November 26 2009 @ 12:32 AM EST

Here's another relevant exhibit, Exhibit 2151 [PDF] from the collection of exhibits in the Comes v. Microsoft case, an email from Bill Gates, the subject was "Shell plans - iShellBrowser", dated October 3, 1994, to Bill Bass, Bob Muglia et al. In connection with iShellBrowswer, Gates writes:
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....

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.

There you are. X marks the spot.

The email is in an odd, hard-to-read font, so if anyone knows the names are wrong, please let me know. We aim to get it right. I have not corrected any typos.

We are working to complete our Comes exhibit collection so you can help us make it more easily searchable, and we also have all the exhibits that were posted in the Minnesota antitrust case against Microsoft, Gordon v. Microsoft and we'll be including them. This exhibit is from that collection, actually. You can view it here, from our Gordon v. Microsoft permanent page we are working on again, and if you click on the graphic, it will get bigger. Click again and it gets small. So if I'm quieter than usual for a bit, that will be why.

I wanted to mention that it was an anonymous commenter who found this. Sometimes people tell me not to allow anonymous comments, but this is why I never agree.

You might find it interesting to compare this memo with Bill Gates' July 20, 1995 letter to Novell's Robert Frankenberg, Microsoft's Exhibit 15 [PDF] in its collection attached to its Cross Motion for Summary Judgment. It's a hoot. Frankenberg had complained about undocumented calls, and Gates writes that both the FTC and the DOJ has "thoroughly investigated" the allegations and found them to be "not provable". That was then. This is now. Here's my favorite part of the letter:

In fact, Microsoft goes out of its way to make early copies of API and protocol specifications available, hold design reviews (that even our competitors attend), and run the largest beta test programs in the industry. Novell has been invited to participate in many of these "Open Process" events -- and all without requiring a tit-for-tat arrangement.
Update: Another exhibit shows a response from Brad Silverberg and Tom Evslin to this email from Bill Gates on "Shell plans - iShellBrowser". I will put it above the original Gates message, so you can read it as it appears in the exhibit, Exhibit 5673 [PDF]. The TO line differs, in that the version in Exhibit 5673 lists the recipients by email nym, not full names, whereas the Gates email lists them by name. The responses emails are from the DOJ collection; the other from the Gordon v. Microsoft antitrust exhibit collection and later also used in the Comes litigation. The email is identical, so it's just because the replies are from Silverberg, at the top of the thread, who set his view preferences differently than Gates, I would assume. The Silverberg and Evslin replies:
DOJ - Legal

_____________________________

From: Brad Silverberg
To: Tom Evslin; Bill Gates
Cc: Russ Siegelman; Jim Allchin; (jimall); Paul Maritz (paulms)
Subject: Monday, October 03 1994 6:42 PM

I will jump in - yes we have to take them out of marvel and capone too. There no one in the world outside of Microsoft who will buy the argument that they are "part of Chicago" so get the interfaces while others don't. This is an impossible sale.

From: Tom Evslin
To: Bill Gates
Cc: Brad Silverberg; Russ Siegelman; Jim Allchin; (jimall); Paul Maritz (paulma)
Subject: RE: Shell plans - iShellBrowser
Date: Monday, October 03, 1994 6:04 PM

I understand the decision not to publish the interfaces so son't argue with that.

Is it also necessary, hower, to prohibit Capone and Marvel from using them? These are part of the Chicago shell (or can be positioned that way) so is there a reason why they can't be use unpublished interfaces for "internal" extensions of the shell.

[Bill Gates email quoted in full]

***********************

PLAINTIFF'S
EXHIBIT
2151
Comes v. Microsoft

From: Erik Gavriluk (erikgav)
Sent: Monday, October 03, 1994 6:35 PM
To: Mack McCauley; Mark Malamud; Nat Brown; Tony Williams
Subject: FW: Shell plans - iShellBrowser

_______________

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.

The Personal Systems team has many challenges ahead of it - they need to remain focussed on overall systems ease of use, and on being the conscience of the individual/home user - on thinking through integration of new opportunities opened by the Internet, by CD-ROM titles, etc. This means that we are going to have to work together and deal with tensions as they arise, but we can't give up on either market, and there is a huge amount of creative work to be done. We need to allow for innovation in both Office and Windows, even if this makes the line between them hard to draw.

Gates
DEPOSITION
EXHIBIT
30

MS-PCA 1399798
CONFIDENTIAL


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