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Why Microsoft Suddenly Wanted to Be More Interoperable - Comes v. MS Exh. 7068 Tells Us
Sunday, January 24 2010 @ 01:42 PM EST

Guess why Microsoft suddenly decided it wanted to be more interoperable? It's so it can get customers to quit using Linux and switch to Windows & .NET.

Exhibit 7068 [PDF] in the Comes v. Microsoft antitrust litigation exhibits list tells us what happened with Intel. It is a 4-page email thread with Bill Gates and others at Microsoft all about trying to get Intel to switch from Linux/Unix to Windows for their development environment. Gates calls it a jihad. What stood in the way, according to the email report on what Intel was telling them: "Linux apparently meets over 90% of their current EDA needs." Intel said Linux interoperability was better, they could port code more easily, EDA ISVs "got burnt with poor experiences with Windows NT" and so were "wary of taking steps in this direction".

Remember when Microsoft told us it was interested in greater interoperability with Linux because their customers were demanding it? That part is true, as I'll show you. But the purpose of developing greater interoperability at the request of Intel, according to this exhibit, was so that Microsoft could get Intel to switch its development environment from Linux to Windows. Intel's Paul Otellini had reportedly asked his people to figure out how to do that. But in 1999, Microsoft and Intel had cooperatively done a comparison test project, testing Windows and Linux against each other, and Linux performed better. Way better. And so after identifying 100 or so Microsoft work items, Intel decided to go with Linux. The email thread is about whether Intel could now switch back.

1999. Think about what that means in the SCO v. IBM context, where SCO alleges that it wasn't until IBM got involved in Linux -- years after 1999 -- that Linux suddenly worked well in the enterprise. Seems they are, at best, mistaken.

The email thread begins with a report on a telephone conference with some Intel and Windows folks, to see what could be done to get Intel off of Linux and back on Windows.

By the way, are two monopolies allowed to work together to figure out how to gang up on one of the monopoly's competitors? Just asking.

Trust me, though, you won't find this exhibit on any Microsoft Get the Facts-style websites.

There are so many gems we are finding by transcribing the exhibits in the Comes collection. I thought they were all ancient history, but not at all, particularly on the final page of the collection, page 4. So if you are in the mood to help us with transcribing, that's a great place to start.

This exhibit, for example, is from early 2002, and if you recall Darl McBride joined Caldera, now calling itself SCO, in the summer of 2002, and at the end of the year, it was gearing up to attack Linux. That is the context. Microsoft by 2002, after losing to Linux in 1999, was still not able to persuade Intel developers to come back to Windows.

As you read the exhibit, then, please imagine you are Microsoft when Darl McBride comes calling with a plan to litigate Linux into the ground, force Linux to remove code SCOfolk thought Linux couldn't function without in the enterprise, or place a SCO tax on every Linux server, all of which would make it easier for Microsoft to compete against an operating system that was preferred already at Intel. Imagine you are not the type to stay awake nights, worrying about business ethics or fine points like that.

Microsoft asked Intel what it should do. Some suggestions from Intel: improve interoperability between Windows and Linux/UNIX, improve "stability of environment, OS, shell environment, scripts, etc.", find "a unique value prop that will convince EDA ISVs about the advantage of supporting Windows & .NET." Intel reportedly offered to help Microsoft with developing that, "since they're familiar with the terrain." In short, if Microsoft could improve in interoperability, it would enable Intel to switch from Linux to Windows and .NET.

So all you folks helping Microsoft become more interoperable, are you working with a "new" Microsoft that has now seen the light? Or, are you enabling Microsoft to replace Linux, after you help them write the code and share with them the way to fix their stupid software? What are you thinking? You are doing their coding for them with a goal on their part you won't enjoy. In short, the conclusion I reach after reading this exhibit is that if Microsoft can't interoperate well with Linux, it will decline faster.

Here's the entire text, but as always, for anything that matters, go by the PDF:


From: Brian Valentine
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2002 11:45 PM
To: Mike Porter; Bill Gates
Cc: Jim Allchin; Ann Marie McLeod
Subject: RE: Intel's design engineers and Windows

We are all over them on this and will keep trying to get them to move. Attached is the whole thread that is currently running on this.

-- Original Message --
From: Mike Porter
Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2002 12:34 PM
To: Bill Gates
Cc: Jim Allchin; Brian Valentine
Subject: RE: Intel's design engineers and Windows

Sorry it's taken so much time to investigate. BrianV put a team together to nail this and in our opinion we did everything possible and had a pretty solid solution. Intel said they felt we didn't meet every need, although I've been pushing for the list of "how we failed them" for over 2 weeks now. Bottom line, IMHO, Intel doesn't want to deal with their internal politics and "sell" this transition internally. Think about our development org. bright, extremely talented and opinionated folks... and at Intel, the developer crowd was raised on Unix/Linux. They just don't WANT to move. Also, this was originally being driven by Albert, and that changed to Gelsinger for a while. I'm not sure given their recent changes internally who owns this. This may be an area that Otellini could help.

Given that you are meeting with Paul on the 14th of this month (and we have a prep meeting on the 6th), is there any data I can get you to aid in your discussion with Paul?

--Original Message--
From: Bill Gates
Sent: Monday, January 14, 2002 1:41 PM
To: Mike Porter
Cc: Jim Allchin; Brian Valentine
Subject: Intel's design engineers and Windows

Where are we on this Jihad?

Do I need to be calling and emailing Ottelini to get this back on tract??

Every day that goes by is a bad one for us on this. Despite the difficulty we need to draw thw line in the sand on this one for a lot of reasons.

From: Brian Valentine
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2002 5:23 PM
To: Srini Koppolu; S. Somasegar, Bill Veghte; Vinod Anantharaman; Doug Miller, Chris Ray; Eric RUdder; Anne Marie McLeod
Cc: Jim Allchin;
Subject: RE: Intel EDA migration

Please make sure Anne Marie is on these threads -- I have added her here.

As far as going after them -- they are important from the perspective of getting Intel to dogfood Windows. This would be a big thing we could both talk about, etc. We want to them on Windows We do need to look at the all the ISVs, etc and make sure that we have good programs in place to move them.

-- Original Message --
From: Srini Koppolu
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2002 6:46 AM
To: S. Somasegar; Bill Veghte; Vinod Anantharaman; Doug Miller; Chris Ray; Brian Valentine; Eric Rudder
Subject: RE: Intel EDA migration

It would have been worse if we haven't got the CAD ISV apps working on Windows. Atleast no one can make an argument that the Windows is not ready for high end apps

Let's engage with Intel for some more time and do some research on EDA space. But if it is a no go, we better cut our losses soon and not get into a rat hole with Intel for months/years like in previous cases.

--Original Message--
From S. Somasegar
Sent: Friday, February 01, 2002 4:35 PM
To: Bill Veghte; Vinod Anantharaman; Doug Miller; Chris Ray; Srini Koppolu; Brian Valentine; Eric Rudder
Subject: RE: Intel EDA migration

I agree on ROI, etc.
With Intel though, it is a crime that these guys are running Linux and it is a shame that we can't get them to move to Windows for their core development systems. I also think that unless it is a top-down initiative at Intel to "just make this happen", this will not get traction no matter how much we try.

--Original Message--
From: Bill Veghte
Sent: Friday, February 01, 2002 4:31 PM
To: Vinod Anantharaman; S. Somasegar; Doug Miller; Chris Ray; Srini Koppulu; Brian Valentine; Eric Rudder
Subject: RE: Intel EDA migration

Of all the different Unix migration targets, I am pretty skeptical that EDA is the most leveraged for us to go after where

Levered = (we can win with reasonable investment) + (large economic return for MS relative to investment) + (big credibility boost).

I am much, much concerned about all the different corporate LOB apps on wall street, insurance, etc. those are the targets where we want to win and get the PR around.

--Original Message --
From: Vinod Anantharaman
Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2002 5:49 PM
To: S. Somasegar; Doug Miller; Chris Ray; Srini Koppolu; Brian Valentine; Bill Veghte
Subject: Intel EDA migration

Summary of a conf call Doug and I had with Intel today, re: migrating their ECAD/EDA environment from Linux/UNIX to Windows.


  • Intel President Paul Ottellini asked his team to work with MS, figure out what it took to move their EDA environment to Windows. Some & Renee James at Intel had a recent discussion on this.
  • Intel ran a EDA migration project back in early 99, to move to NT4 -- they got badly burned on this due to stability & software migration issues, and recommended going with Linux instead.
  • MS got involved around mid 99, did a joint project where Intel evaluated Win2k + SFU vs. Linux, and a list of about 100 or so MS work-items were identified. In the end, after 18 months of engagement or so, this didn't pan out -- some of the reasons are listed in the first email attached above. Intel went ahead w/ the Linux route.


  • MS: DougMil, VinodA
  • Intel: Greg Spirakis (VP, ECAD Design Tools), Elwood Coslett & Kevin Wheeler (program managers in Engg, Computing/IT), Mike Webb (don't have his designation, he facilitated this conf)

Meeting Summary

  • Intel summarized their migration requirements thus:
      Primary order bit is that MS must convince the top EDA players to move over to Windows. Intel firmly believes this is what it takes for them to consider moving to Windows. They were very crisp / upfront on this point.
    • They use about 100 odd tools from 8-10 different vendors, will share the list with us (will include the usual cast of characters: Cadence, Synopsis, Unigraphics, ..)
    • Additionally, there's a big ecosystem of tools & scripts they've developed around the major ISV apps, so all of these things have to be migrated as well. Once the ISV apps become available on Windows, they would need to find resources for the Windows migration, and as they said "take the risk associated with such a switch-over"
  • Intel's perspective on what's changed since we last engaged with them:
    • EDA ISVs got burnt with poor experiences with Windows NT, are wary of taking steps in this direction
    • ISVs have been able to move to Linux easily -- ported their code more easily, able to share code b/w UNIX /Linux, interop story is good. So they've been able to get cost benefits of IA hw w/Linux as a viable alternative OS
    • Chicken & egg problem that ISVs still see no customer demand for Windows versions
    • ISVs are trying to reduce the total # of platforms they support -- cuts their R & D, support etc. costs. Ideal scenario for them is that UNIX disappears and they support only Linux.
  • Intel's perspective on what's not changed since the last time
    • Continued need for interop (b/w UNIX and Windows, in our case)
    • Continued need for stability of environment, OS, shell environment, scripts, etc.
  • Linux apparently meets over 90% of their current EDA needs. They indicated a few aspects where Windows does better (but qualified these as being "less critical" requirements)
    • Intel developers prefer using Windows /VS as their dev environment for all their ANSI C, C++ apps
    • IT would prefer to support a single OS platform, and they clearly need their Windows desktops
    • Better integration with Windows desktop / Office, although they said they are able to do this OK with their current X based solution
  • When asked to put themselves in our shoes, here's what they said they'd do (nothing earth shattering here...)
    • Find a unique value prop that will convince EDA ISVs about the advantage of supporting Windows & .NET. They said they're happy to help us with develop this, since they're familiar with the terrain.
    • Point out MS successes in related spaces like mechanical CAD etc. & how we created value in those ecosystems
Next Steps
  • We'll get the list of key EDA ISVs that Intel depends on
  • We'll get feedback from Intel & their customers on Windows-UNIX interop issues, feature ideaas, etc (some of their customers mentioned some issues here, note that Intel is currently on SFU 3.0 beta program)
  • In light of Intel's position wrt to EDA ISVs, the right folks at MS (EPG?) should revisit the issue of whether we want to go after that business again
    Clearly this is a long term / uphill battle, if we want to go after it. I've attached a second mail thread where this topic was raised in March 2001, no decision was made back then to pursue this market aggressively. There was also an associated PPT Chris Ray and co. put together regarding the EDA space, I'm happy to fwd to anybody who's interested.


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