More Gates smoking emails support Caldera case
Anyone seen a Korean MS app from 1989-90? Caldera would love to hear from you
Microsoft did build software that checked for the presence of rival operating system DR-DOS into its own MS-DOS, according to evidence produced by Caldera. There also seems to be some evidence that the company at least intended to use some international versions of Windows to stop applications running with DR-DOS. Microsoft has admitted it devised a code-checking routine, but has denied including it in production software (Gates Smoking emails). DR-DOS users from way back have however insisted to The Register that this code did appear in production versions, and Caldera, which is suing Microsoft for anti-competitive activities, says that this and other weapons were used to undermine DR-DOS sales. Caldera's evidence suggests that Bill Gates was a driving force here. Asking for information on "what things an app would do that would make it run with MS-DOS and not run with DR-DOS," Gates writes in 1988: "I am not looking for something they cant [sic] get around. I am looking for something their current binary fails on." The answer he got from his staff was that there were things an application could do to break DR-DOS, but that these were things an application had no business doing. Which makes the Korean versions of Microsoft applications from this period interesting. Caldera does however have some traffic from Microsoft Korea to Redmond from the period: "Bill Gates ordered to all application business units to include checking routines of operating environments and if it is Microsoft DOS, nothing will happen. But if it is non MS-DOS (such as DR-DOS), application will display messages saying that "This application has been developed and tested for MICROSOFT MS-DOS. Since you use different environment, this application may not work correctly. . . ." It gets more interesting. "The question from [Microsoft Korea] is 'How to check the DOS is MS-DOS or clone'. [Microsoft Korea] wants to include such routine in Hangeul Windows so that Hangeul Windows can run only Hangeul MS-DOS. Could you tell me to whom I can ask to resolve this problem?" Gates denies that such a check was implemented, but according to Caldera: "At least one Korean Windows version from this era contains this warning: 'Hangeul Windows 3.0 should be executed on Hangeul MS-DOS. For correct execution, please run on Hangeul MS-DOS. Press any key to continue.'" Not a breakage, perhaps, but worrying for users who don't know the truth. There may however have been breakages. Caldera says: "Microsoft has been unable to produce copies of the Korean versions of their application software from this time period. Even so, evidence in the record suggests that -- consistent with Gates' directive -- Microsoft coded 'software locks' into several of its Hangeul (Korean) applications, including Word, Works, and Excel." Caldera is still seeking copies of this software - any of our Korean readers able to oblige? Microsoft is also claimed to have denounced DR-DOS as "a copy of MS-DOS, and anybody that used that product would be sued by Microsoft" in seminars in Korea. Something called the "non-tested DOS warning code," which alerted/scared users if a non-MS-DOS OS was detected, was devised, and according to Microsoft's then MS-DOS product manager Microsoft developers "have committed to implementing it in all new MS application and language releases from this point forward, including international." The warnings themselves hurt, says Caldera, while FUD campaigns and that old leveraging of the OEM relationship hurt some more. Says one Microsoft manager: "It only takes a couple of reports about non-compatibility to give the kiss of death to a PC: we've seen that on the hardware side as well in as the operating system area." A purported DR-DOS bug list was put together for the OEM sales force, who "would use that information as they saw fit in competitive situations." These bugs seem to have been somewhat exaggerated, as MS-DOS 5.0 product manager Mark Chestnut wrote that he disagreed with the tactics of "taking what you perceived to be a minor bug and trying to make a big deal, a big story out of it." Chestnut was replaced by Brad Chase in November 1990, and according to Caldera he "was not so similarly restrained." There's plenty more of this stuff, and we'll no doubt get back to it shortly - but here's a snippet from the period when the story - apparently - came to an end, as Microsoft engineered the switchover from Dos to Windows. Gates wrote: "I doubt they will be able to clone Windows. It is very difficult to do technically, we have made it a moving target and we have some visual copyright and patent protection.." (Our italics) So making Windows more complex and moving the goalposts, while extending Microsoft's IP protection, was a Gates objective? Possibly: "First, we have to make sure Windows isn't easy to clone for both technical and legal reasons. Who is smart that thinks about this -- patents and such. I can do it at some point and I think we will be able to achieve it. DOS being fairly cloned has had a dramatic impact on our pricing for DOS. I wonder if we would have it around 30-40 % higher if it wasn't cloned. I bet we would!" Naughty Bill. ®
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