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Office the ‘perfect club’ to use on Apple – MS

Fear and loathing at the conference table, seven months into the 'alliance'

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Further evidence of deterioration of relations between Apple and Microsoft emerged in court yesterday, as Paul Maritz was confronted with a February 1998 email saying that "MacOffice is the perfect club to use on them [Apple]".

Maritz had been on the CC list for this message, sent by Don Bradford to Ben Waldman (head of Microsoft's Mac development team), but yesterday told the court that he didn't know what Bradford meant by this, and no, he hadn't asked him. But if Paul would care to turn to the text of the message in question, we're sure we can help talk him through it, and show him how perfectly clear it is.

The message itself is the third in a series of emails sent on February 12-13 1998, and covering "Java on Macintosh/IE Control". The first, sent by Bradford to various Redmondites, including Martiz, Gates and Waldman, lists his proposals for a meeting with Apple's Avie Tevanian the next day. He wants Apple to "announce support for J/Direct, MS Security and MS Debugger APIs within 45 days", and implement this before the end of the year. In exchange Microsoft will continue to support Apple's Jmanager, and discontinue shipment of MS MacVM after IE 4.01.

What he's talking about there is sorting out the Java relationship. On this, Waldman responds: "Why would we want to do this [discontinue shipment of the VM] if we think ours is faster -- wouldn't this make our browser less good?"

Bradford elucidates: "Apple wants to sit on the fence [on Java], dealing with us and staying 100 per cent pure [ie. these are not the same thing]. Apple really wants to do their own VM (and is willing to take an IP infusion from us, if they can continue to follow the 100 per cent pure Java line and deliver JDK 1.2 earlier than mid-99)... If both IE and Nav [Navigator, natch] use the same VM [Apple's, after the discontinuation of Microsoft's], applet performance ceases to be a differentiator for the browser but Netscape/JavaSoft/Apple are forced to invest in the VM (not just APIs) to meet the performance/stability bar we set... Could be that Mac users interested in Java will be forced to use IE 4.0 until MRJ catches up and that Apple's investment in perf work will delay JDK 1.2 deployment on Mac.

"Apple does get their VM deployed as 'default' (eventually 'exclusive') in the 'default' browser shipped with their OS. We get our APIs deployed in perhaps the only VM on Mac, reinforcing Java-is-a-language-not-a-platform, while minimising our investment."

Still with us, Paul? This is wonderful Machiavellian stuff, isn't it? Bradford reckons that agreeing to Apple's requests by downscaling MS Mac Java development, he can save MS development bucks while Apple uses its own development bucks to inadvertently slow Java development on the Mac. Mr Gates, this man needs a salary rise.

The other part of Bradford's proposed deal, which is the bit the club relates to, covers IE and runs as follows. He will propose Apple make IE its standard browser, and offers "source licence to ISL in exchange for IE as exclusive browser bundled with MacOS (Nav on secondary media.)" That is, cut a deal that moves Navigator further out of the box. Microsoft will also offer "source licence of the IE HTRML Control and consulting support".

Waldman responds: "Sounds like we give them the HTML control for nothing except making IE the 'standard browser for Apple?' I think they should be doing this anyway... and if they don't do it then we can use Office as a club. So I guess I'm saying that I don't think we should give them the HTML control unless they make IE the exclusive browser (and not need to bargain with ISL."

Waldman is here recommending a considerable firming up of the deal Microsoft and Apple struck seven months previously. The agreement used the word "encourage" with reference to Apple's policy on IE, and guaranteed Mac Office development. Waldman obviously reckons that "encourage" means something harder than Apple does, and thinks MS should threaten Office development again to harden Apple up. Got that, Paul?

Bradford responds: "Do agree that Apple should be meeting the spirit of our cross licence agreement and that MacOffice is the perfect club to use on them." So really it's all perfectly clear, isn't it?

But he has a useful bit of background here. "Apple wants to keep both Netscape and MS developing browsers for Mac -- believing if one drops out, the other will lose interest (and also not really wanting to pick up the development burden). Getting Apple to do anything that significantly/materially disadvantages Netscape will be tough."

That's another interesting Machiavellian perspective. You might think Apple would be able to use the threat of Netscape to improve its hand in negotiations, but Bradford thinks the reverse. If Microsoft pulls, Netscape will follow, or vice versa. That must have been an interesting meeting Avie had on 13 February 1998.

See also Maritz confirms and denies threat to Mac Office

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