Maritz confirms and denies MS threat over Mac Office

There's a narrow denial concerning IE, and a broader confirmation on IP

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In court yesterday Microsoft exec Paul Maritz denied that the company had threatened to stop development of Microsoft Office for the Mac unless Apple adopted Internet Explorer. But it's the way you tell them - Maritz's written testimony confirms that Microsoft did pressure Apple by threatening to can Office for the Mac. As Maritz tells it in the deposition, Microsoft wanted a resolution to Apple's legal claims against Microsoft, and used Office as part of the negotiations. He discusses the attitude of Apple exec and prosecution witness Avie Tevanian: "Strangely, Dr. Tevanian appeared to believe that Microsoft's relationship with Apple would proceed on a 'business as normal' basis if such a lawsuit were filed. Microsoft told Dr. Tevanian at the meeting that it would make little sense for Microsoft to continue to invest in developing Mac Office if Apple started a patent war with Microsoft … We explained that Microsoft sought a better working relationship with Apple, one that would facilitate the development of innovative new versions of Mac Office and other technology initiatives, not renewed rancour." Apple was discussing various possible and actual (e.g. use of QuickTime code) infringements with Microsoft at the time, and according to Maritz was demanding $1.2 billion. What he is saying here in effect, however, is that if Apple went ahead and sued Office would definitely be cancelled. Office was perceived by Apple as vital for the future of the Mac, so it's scarcely surprising that the company gave in. But it gave in on several fronts, not just intellectual property. Says Maritz now: "Given the glacial pace and lack of substantive progress in the negotiations, Microsoft pushed for a unified arrangement addressing a range of issues to avoid the prospect that an agreement on one subject would lead only to further protracted discussions on other subjects, thereby undermining Microsoft's goal of stabilizing its relationship with Apple." Microsoft didn't quite get all it wanted, but we'll first look at what it wanted in June 96 (well in advance of the eventual deal), as defined by Bill Gates in a message to Paul Maritz (aha!) and Brad Silverberg. "I proposed that we swap technology including source code with no restrictions. The deal would look like this…" Gates suggests that Apple be given Internet Explorer source code "including updates" (which surely makes syncing development a bit tricky, if IE is part of Windows. Also "Security software and other definable pieces we can turn over to them (I need more ideas in this category - things that are separable enough we can turn them over to Apple …)" Here we see a classic Gatesian suggestion - he can't think of anything, but suggests a pile of miscellaneous stuff be assembled and shipped to Apple. He also offers "Blessing by us of Quicktime as a cool cross platform thing where Apple looks good and we align our strategies (this wouldn't have to mean much in practice. We are already planning to read Quicktime formats). Ability to take DirectX work and use those APIs (They know the games ISVs want this)." As Tevanian testified, given that DirectX is an MS competitor to QuickTime which would be expensive and difficult for Apple to work with, this is a poisoned chalice. Gates also suggests "Some commitment by us to make Mac clients work well with Windows NT server," the Apple contra deal being "Apple agrees to offer Windows NT servers for markets like publishing and education or at least 'bless them.'" This bit has little real significance, although when copied the message Microsoft OEM manager Joachim Kempin got terribly excited and observed "I would not be surprised if they would want a Mac UI on their version - if feasable [sic]." Out of this proposed deal Microsoft gets: "Apple endorses Microsoft internet explorer technology, DirectX and perhaps other things we give them. Apple agrees to maintain ActiveX support in the browser for a period. They agree to immediately ship IE on all their systems as the standard browser," and both get "patent cross licence." That deal, you'll note, is a little stronger than the one MS eventually got, but not much. It's also worth noting in the interests of fairness and balance that Bill's views differ markedly from the views of lower MS managers reported in Tevanian's testimony. They seemed to be pushing for immediate murder of QuickTime, while the worst you can accuse Gates of here is of trying to trick Apple into slowly suffocating it. But Gates' view of the relationship is different once the deal's been done. Tevanian mails him in August 97 asking who at Redmond he should be working with, and asking for help over IE disabling QuickTime. Gates mails Maritz with: "Who should Avie be working with? Do we have a clear plan on what we want Apple to do to undermine Sun?" But doesn't mention the QuickTime problem. By January 98, a worried Steve Jobs is calling Microsoft's Don Bradford complaining about MS threats (denied by Bradford) to shut down IE development. Says Bradford: "He made it clear that Apple could easily go back to preferring Netscape, if we quit delivering IE on Mac." Apple could indeed do this, as Microsoft is contracted to support IE on the Mac for five years, while Apple is contracted to ship IE with the Mac or any new platform for the same period. There's a get-out clause if MS blows it on functionality though. Having disposed of the IE quibble with Steve, Bradford reports back to his colleagues in less than glowing terms as regards the Apple relationship. "Believe we should shut down all IP discussions unless there's some 'greater good' that I'm not seeing…. Current MacJava plans end with IE 4.01." IP cross licensing deals, dontchalovem? We can see the relationship cooling here, with Gates focussing on getting Apple to trash Sun, the MS IE people cooling on Mac development, and the IP deals slowly evaporating. So maybe we shouldn't be surprised that a little later that year, Tevanian signed up for the antitrust action on the prosecution side. ® Complete Register trial coverage

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