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Microsoft: yes, we have no incompatibilities

From DR-DOS to DRM

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As with Internet Explorer, and Windows XP, Microsoft had failed to add new features to MS-DOS for several years. Microsoft adopted several tactics to destroy DR-DOS, the most damaging of which was tying PC makers into secret per-processor license agreements, which meant that they paid for Microsoft's MS-DOS whether they shipped it with the PC or not, foreclosing the most important route to market.

But as DR-DOS matured, and Novell developed an alternative retail channel for the product, Microsoft adopted a campaign of disinformation. With the growing popularity of Microsoft's Windows 3, which ran on top of either DOS, Microsoft wanted users to think that performance would degrade if using Windows with Novell's rival product.

The formidable talents of Waggener Edstrom were enlisted. Microsoft's DOS product manager Richard Freedman took the campaign to the press, vowing to "FUD DR DOS with every editorial contact made," and to "develop key DR DOS FUD points for all press tours".

"We’ll basically be covering all the key editors ... We recommend that we ‘informally’ plant the bug of FUD in their ears. ‘Have you heard about problems with DR DOS?’ ‘That security feature is a neat idea and, gosh, such a feature would be great, but it’s just too easily circumvented.’ ‘Gee, it’s unfortunate that DR DOS can’t be loaded high all the time. MS-DOS 5.0 can.’ We’ll do this very tactfully. ‘If Digital Research came to Microsoft for help making DR DOS work with Windows, would Microsoft help them? Maybe not?’"

On Friday the Des Moines court heard this piece of testimony. It's a video from an FTC hearing from 1993, and in the dock was Phil Barrett from Microsoft. It makes for an interesting comparison with the offering from Dave Marsh, above.

Question: Mr. Barrett, you were just asked if you had any knowledge of any Microsoft effort to produce any incompatibility between OS/2 or DR-DOS and Microsoft Windows. How do you define incompatibility within that context? What was your understanding of what you meant by that?

Answer: To prevent the products from working together.

Question: Would you consider an incompatibility something that popped up in, say, a nonfatal error message when there was no error that was being detected by that software?

Answer: No, I would not call that incompatibility.

Question: How would you make the distinction between the two?

Answer: Well, there was nothing done explicitly to prevent Windows from running on that operating system.

Question: Mr. Barrett, you were just asked if you had any knowledge of any Microsoft effort to produce any incompatibility between OS/2 or DR-DOS and Microsoft Windows. How do you define incompatibility within that context? What was your understanding of what you meant by that?

Answer: To prevent the products from working together.

Question: Would you consider an incompatibility something that popped up in, say, a nonfatal error message when there was no error that was being detected by that software?

Answer: No, I would not call that incompatibility.

Question: How would you make the distinction between the two?

Answer: Well, there was nothing done explicitly to prevent Windows from running on that operating system. That's what is meant by incompatibility. It's simply a message. If we played a tune, that wouldn't be an incompatibility. That's what is meant by incompatibility. It's simply a message. If we played a tune, that wouldn't be an incompatibility.

Just fancy that! ®

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