Feeds

Compaq exec planned special MS deals to fox the Feds

To obscure the companies' closeness to rivals and the DoJ, apparently

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

MS on Trial Compaq tried to arrange side agreements with Microsoft that would camouflage the closeness of its relationship with Microsoft, according to an email released yesterday. The message, sent by senior VP John Rose in November 1997 to CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer and other senior Compaq execs, proposes a series of additional agreements that would make Compaq's core Windows licence deal "defendable" to rival OEMs and the Department of Justice. One might speculate that Rose, who has been on the stand as a Microsoft defence witness this week, was suggesting Compaq and Microsoft hoodwink rival PC makers and the Feds. The timing of the email is exquisite. In late 97 Microsoft and the DoJ were locked in legal combat over the latter's application for a preliminary injunction. The judge then granted the injunction, ordering Microsoft to stop forcing OEMs to ship Internet Explorer, but the ruling was later overturned on appeal. Compaq witnesses had been pivotal in the case up to that point, one of the major revelations being that Compaq had been threatened with the withdrawal of its Windows licence if it didn't restore the IE icon on the desktop. Although the Compaq witnesses had been subpoenaed, it still rather looked as if relations between the company and MS were in poor shape. But not necessarily. Rose had been attempting to renew Compaq's Windows licence for five years, but Microsoft's earlier consent decree negotiated with the DoJ had limited the period of licences to two years. Rose therefore wrote: "Given Microsoft's concern that our agreement be 'defendable' to other OEMs and the Department of Justice, we recently proposed an alternative structure where we would use side agreements to complement the Client OS license and MDA [market development agreement]." It's not clear what these side agreements were, and what shape the deal(s) eventually took. Compaq and Microsoft signed a new licence in March of last year, but Compaq has successfully kept the papers under court seal. Meanwhile, Judge Penfield Jackson has expressed his own bafflement over Compaq's tortuous deal-making. Rose earlier this week argued that Microsoft's threat to withdraw Compaq's Windows licence in 1996 was made because Compaq was in breach of an agreement it had made with Microsoft. A deal with AOL that required that IE be difficult to access had been made, he implied, subsequently to that. So it had all been a mistake. But the judge pointed out that although the MS-Compaq deal had been dated August 1995, it wasn't signed and put into effect until June 1996. If this is the case, then Compaq had been perfectly free to sign its deal with AOL, and mightn't actually have been in breach of its agreement until it signed the document that made it so. Why would it have done this? As Rose's email of the following year makes clear, Compaq was coming to the end of what had been a five year licensing deal with MS, and in 1996 MS was tightening its OEM agreements (no change there then). Rose had probably come to an 'arrangement' with Microsoft in August 95, but may have been holding back on signing it off in order to wring concessions out of Redmond. The "side agreements" mooted later may have been of a similar stamp. ® Complete Register trial coverage

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.