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Groklaw Putting Comes v. Microsoft Docs Online 159

Posted by timothy
from the unboxing-day dept.
An anonymous reader writes "PJ of Groklaw is working on putting the documents from Comes v. Microsoft online, to make them searchable and accessible to everyone. If you don't remember their history, the plaintiffs got these documents from Microsoft during discovery after fighting the lawyers tooth and nail. After realizing how embarrassing the documents were to Microsoft, they put them online and later got a very large settlement from Microsoft by agreeing to take their website down. The web being what it is, these documents had already been mirrored and were later (legally) made available on the Pirate Bay. Now Groklaw has put them online and is looking for people to help transcribe them, so that documents like the infamous Evangelism is War presentation will not be forgotten."
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Groklaw Putting Comes v. Microsoft Docs Online

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  • by causality (777677) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @06:04PM (#30559234)

    After realizing how embarrassing the documents were to Microsoft, they put them online and later got a very large settlement from Microsoft by agreeing to take their website down.

    I'm quite grateful for the Streisand Effect [wikipedia.org]. If not for that, then normally someone who sells out or is (legally) bribed like this removes everyone's access to such information. Too bad those people caved, but that need not cost us the ability to know what they wanted so badly to hide.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by couchslug (175151)

      "Too bad those people caved, but that need not cost us the ability to know what they wanted so badly to hide."

      Note to potential "cavers":
      You can certainly sanitize the information you plan to agree to keep secret, give it to reliable third parties, then take the money.

      It isn't honest, but there is no reason to be honest with your enemies. We are past the point of moral obligation to such people.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Suki I (1546431)

        "Too bad those people caved, but that need not cost us the ability to know what they wanted so badly to hide."

        Note to potential "cavers": You can certainly sanitize the information you plan to agree to keep secret, give it to reliable third parties, then take the money.

        It isn't honest, but there is no reason to be honest with your enemies. We are past the point of moral obligation to such people.

        Doesn't look like they turned it over to anybody. It was mirrored by others and Microsoft made a bad deal. Someone on their team should have known this could happen and advised, like the OP mentions, to ignore it rather than drawing more attention.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 26, 2009 @08:07PM (#30559884)

          Submitter here.

          Yes, it was mirrored by others (thankfully people had the foresight to mirror this stuff right away). In fact, one person who had all the files asked what to do with them (either here or on Groklaw, I don't recall), and I was the one who suggested it be put on the Pirate Bay. I don't know for sure that he took my advice, but I do know that a Comes collection appeared there shortly thereafter.

      • by causality (777677) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @08:02PM (#30559852)

        "Too bad those people caved, but that need not cost us the ability to know what they wanted so badly to hide."

        Note to potential "cavers": You can certainly sanitize the information you plan to agree to keep secret, give it to reliable third parties, then take the money.

        It isn't honest, but there is no reason to be honest with your enemies. We are past the point of moral obligation to such people.

        I don't know why you were modded Troll because what you say is strategically correct. As Sun Tzu advised, all warfare (physical or PR) is based on deception. The use of deception against an aggressor whom you have done nothing to provoke is the only legitimate, morally correct usage of it that I recognize. Whether this case fits that description is the only debatable point.

        Having said that, if you sign a contract stating that you will not disclose information, and you disclose that information, then it's not just dishonest; it's also illegal (or at least, a tort). This is unwise, especially when Microsoft can afford the best lawyers and you cannot. There are times when you have concerns other than how much you can justify without violating your morality, and this is probably one of them. For that reason, I'd strongly advise against actually doing this, making this a bad example of the otherwise sound concepts you mention.

        • "I don't know why you were modded Troll because what you say is strategically correct."

          If I didn't read your Slashdot User# I would think you were new to Slashdot

          • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

            by causality (777677)

            "I don't know why you were modded Troll because what you say is strategically correct."

            If I didn't read your Slashdot User# I would think you were new to Slashdot

            In the technical sense, I can think of several reasons for it that are all plausible explanations. None of them speak favorably of that moderator. Since there are multiple possible explanations, I can accurately say I don't know which was the motivation. That's not the same thing as being unable to understand how such things happen. If I had to guess, I'd say it's because people assume that anything they don't like must be trolling or an instance of flamebait, but that's just a guess. I don't claim to

          • by X0563511 (793323)

            Don't mind causality, he's all 6's and 7's.

            oh, I made a funny!

      • by ultranova (717540)

        It isn't honest, but there is no reason to be honest with your enemies. We are past the point of moral obligation to such people.

        Are you saying they're Fair Game [wikipedia.org]? Nice role models you have there.

    • by shentino (1139071)

      Caved?

      Microsoft got blackmailed here, since THEY were the ones to cough up the money. At least according to TFS.

    • by selven (1556643) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @08:30PM (#30559966)

      Good old Streisand effect. I just downloaded a copy of the evangelism presentation (oh noes, did I infringe MS's copyright?) and read through it. For some reason, learning that something is censored makes me take a lot of effort to find it and read through it carefully, much more than if nothing happened to it. It's probably partly "if it gets censored, it must be interesting" and partly sticking it to the man. Doesn't matter, whatever gets uploaded is out there and will be forever out there and there's nothing anyone can do to stop that.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ozmanjusri (601766)
        Good old Streisand effect.

        It's not just the Streisand effect. There have been a lot of people involved in Microsoft's dirty tricks campaigns over the years and now that the company's on a downhill slide, many of them are looking at their past roles with a bit of regret. The whole dirty house of cards isn't far from tumbling down.

        Even James Plamendon, who created Microsoft's Evangelism program, authored that evangelism presentation and is responsible for much of Microsoft's brutal MSOOXML campaign has re

        • by MightyMartian (840721) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @12:10AM (#30560862) Journal

          Even James Plamendon, who created Microsoft's Evangelism program, authored that evangelism presentation and is responsible for much of Microsoft's brutal MSOOXML campaign has recanted. He's stated that he regrets his actions and is writing a book about it.

          Yes, I'm sure he's been wringing his hands all the way to the bank.

          A fit of ethics doesn't do much good after the fact, particularly from someone who profited so mightily from it all.

          • Agree (Score:3, Insightful)

            by symbolset (646467)

            One might imagine his handwashing will be as enthusiastic as his evangelism was. In order to extract the maximum marketability from his confession it's necessary that he embellish it until it was even more diabolical than it actually was.

            I'm not giving him a pass here - the man promoted the evil prevention of progress in a most effective way. I'm just pointing out that much like his efforts then were, his efforts to promote his book will be equally self-serving.

            • Re:Agree (Score:5, Insightful)

              by MightyMartian (840721) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @02:29AM (#30561344) Journal

              We don't need an "insider's account" to know how the OOXML scam went down. No one, least of all Microsoft, was being very secretive about it. That was really the most amazing thing about the process. Everyone knows Microsoft loathes and fears open standards, but it was that they pulled off the whole thing with such arrogance and lack of concern. They knew damned well there would be no consequences, that everyone would shrug, and that loyal vile little toadies like Icaza would go around trumpeting their shitty, still partially proprietary "standard".

              That's why I'm rooting for Google. I'm sure they're already well on the way to Evil Empire status, but as governments seem utterly unwilling to imprison guys like Ballmer and fine the companies substantially fractions of their net worth so that the investors can directly feel the agonies of the company's misdeeds, about the only thing we can hope for is some other bunch of vile immoral septic-tanks-for-souls can do the current lot in.

              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                by symbolset (646467)

                In my world the prevention of progress is evil. To profit from the prevention of progress is corporate evil. The prevention of interopability through obfuscation of interfaces is the epitome of evil.

                Man will move forward or he will not. Any institutional prevention of progress is an effort to prevent the survival of Man, as a species. We have been distracted by the profit motives of this Redmond, WA corporation long enough.

              • by shentino (1139071)

                It's like the demons and devils in the Great Blood War of the D&D cosmology.

                As long as they keep each other in check, the rest of the multiverse is safe from invasion, even though both groups would very much enjoy just that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The Streisand Effect is just an observation that cover-ups make for great gossip, and that gossip can spread rapidly over the Internet, so that the fact that a well known person (or entity) tries to suppress the dissemination of information can achieve greater circulation amongst the population than the information itself would have.

      I doubt the terms of the settlement actually did anything to further the spread of these documents, so there is not need to mention the so-called 'Streisand Effect'. Again.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Fred_A (10934)

        It might not have done anything to further their propagation (although the fact that MS paid to have them removed at least indicated that they might have been worth a look), but I still find it very puzzling that in this day and age, someone actually thought "oh noes, our sekret filez are on the intarweb, I'll just pay to have them removed" (duh). Maybe he was from sales, or marketing.

        Removing stuff that's on the network works fine for the media publishers after all, so Microsoft shouldn't have any problems

  • is going to be a whole speciality within litigation PR.
  • Not that bad really (Score:2, Interesting)

    by clarkkent09 (1104833) *
    If you read the whole document the bit about stacking "independent" panels and getting favorable "news" stories is the only truly unethical part and even that is regularly done by a lot of companies including Apple in particular. it's just good agressive competition. Or maybe I worked for Oracle for too long :)
  • I had one of the people working on the case come talk to my college class. The documents provided to the law office were on paper. The office had an impressive cluster of computers used to do optical code recognition on all the documents so that they could be indexed and searched. There were tons of documents. It was not easy technically, and they worked a lot of hours.

    The person I talked to always hoped someone would take this on. They couldn't give up their work for public domain, but there was a ton of computer history contained in those files.

    • by diegocg (1680514) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @07:14PM (#30559626)

      there was a ton of computer history contained in those files.

      Indeed! There're many interesting bits in these emails that explain quite well some of the things we suffer every day.

      "One things I find myself wondering about is whether we shouldn't try and make the "ACPI" extensions somehow Windows specific. It seems unfortunate if we do this work and get our partners to do the work and the result is that Linux works great without having to do the work. Maybe there is no way to avoid this problem but it does bother me. Maybe we could define the APIs so that they work well with NT and not the others even if they are open. Or maybe we could patent something related to this" - Bill Gates [tinyurl.com]

      "One thing we have got to change in our strategy - allowing Office documents to be rendered well by others people browser is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company. We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on PROPIETARY IE capabilities" - Bill Gates [tinyurl.com]

      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by loteck (533317)

        "One thing we have got to change in our strategy - allowing Office documents to be rendered well by others people browser is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company. We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on PROPIETARY IE capabilities" -Bill Gates

        Music to Google's ears.

  • by omar.sahal (687649) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @06:50PM (#30559504) Homepage Journal

    Our mission is to establish Microsoft's platforms as the de facto standards throughout the computer industry. Our enemies are the vendors of platforms that compete with ours: Netscape, Sun, IBM, Oracle, Lotus, etc. The field of battle is the software industry. Success is measured in shipping applications. Every line of code that is written to our standards is a small victory; every line of code that is written to any other standard, is a small defeat. Total victory, for DRG, is the universal adoption of our standards by developers, as this is an important step towards total victory for Microsoft itself: "A computer on every desk and in every home, running Microsoft software."

    This is why I wish the internet would become a development platform for application (GUI driven in this case). If this was the case the platform wars (to borrow Microsoft terminology) would be over and developers would code for the internet. Google, with chrome os etc, seems to be an ally in this, not that they are benevolent benefactors, just that their business aims and the open source community desires align.
    What would it take to code in any number of languages (in the way we can now code in javascript) for the web.

    • Well, no... (Score:1, Insightful)

      by tjstork (137384)

      If Google wins it would be far, far worse than anything Microsoft could do. It would mean that desktop computers would be hobbled based on a low level baseline of common functionality, that, applications would be subject to be found only based on what Google likes or dislike, and that users data will not even belong to them.

      • I think you see the Google Chrome OS as something Google is trying to use to take over every computer, which is certainly not true. Google wants to use it to create a new class of computer, a netbook that only does internet and nothing else. Your dystopian fantasy is just that - a fantasy, a slippery slope. As Gruber once stated (and I dislike Gruber so for me to quote him would be a stretch), sometimes you don't need two cars, you just need a car and a bicycle. Why do we have to assume that when a company
        • Re:Well, no... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@gm a i l.com> on Saturday December 26, 2009 @10:10PM (#30560342) Homepage Journal

          I think you see the Google Chrome OS as something Google is trying to use to take over every computer, which is certainly not true. Google wants to use it to create a new class of computer, a netbook that only does internet and nothing else.

          Well you miss the point. First off, the question was really, what would the world be like if Google dominated computing as much as Microsoft did, and therefor, my "dystopian fantasy" was a viable answer. Google's business model envisions everyone accessing their data on third party computers with dumb internet only appliances. Therefor, to be a host, you have to get Google's permission, and, consumers will never own their data. That's what this is.

          • Is Google going to also put an end to the secondary storage industry? Just put your data on a thumbstick if you want something to hold in your hand.
      • Well, no... (Score:2, Informative)

        by symbolset (646467)

        If Google wins then there will be available numerous facilities available in the Google cloud that are attractive alternatives to doing things the hard way, for every case where excellent cloud apps make sense.

        Google's not trying to take your personal workstation away. If you want to host your own data and crunch your own numbers your way that's up to you. But if you don't, they want to be the easiest and best way to assemble and reference information online. I don't see that as a bad thing.

    • by Mikkeles (698461) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @07:14PM (#30559632)

      Right, just what I want: aircraft flight control systems as PHP code on the internet.

    • by dangitman (862676)

      If this was the case the platform wars (to borrow Microsoft terminology) would be over and developers would code for the internet.

      And the resulting applications would suck. Developers should develop for the user. "The internet" is not a sentient being, not the end-user of software. So, why would humans want want software developed for the internet? We should want software developed for humans.

  • The Colossal Irony (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@gm a i l.com> on Saturday December 26, 2009 @07:07PM (#30559598) Homepage Journal

    Is that right around the same time Microsoft started thinking about using its bulk and business practices to achieve marketing ends, is right around the same time its innovation, risk taking, and other admirable traits about the company slacked off. I mean, yeah, it might have been hurtful to Borland for Microsoft to buy the superior Fox and use it to crush dBase, but at least the market did get a better product. And it might have been wrong to use Windows money to fund the development of Visual Studio to propel it past Turbo C++, but, again, the consumer got a better product. Even IE4 was better than Netscape.

    But this email is from 1997, when MS had won the OS wars, the browser wars, and since then, what has happened? MS has lost its focus on computing entirely. Folding the Windows NT core into the Windows 95 shell to get first Windows NT 4.0 and then Windows 2000 were the best things the company did, and since then, we've had really not much to write home about.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by darthflo (1095225) *

      In Microsoft's defense, they are not alone. Windows 2000 (and it's UI improvement XP) did deliver. They threw a rock-solid OS with acceptable performance out there, and satisfied everyone from businesses to gamers. The famous 20% of work to get 80% of the result were done. Delivering again is hard, because now customers expect to get 160% at the same price. That's how things like Vista and DNF happen.
      But as I said, they are not alone. Apple had their 2000/XP moments with Puma and Jaguar. They handled their

      • Time, perspective. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by symbolset (646467) * on Sunday December 27, 2009 @01:19AM (#30561112) Journal

        If you had enjoyed the benefit of playing with SVR2 through a 30" high def graphical terminal in 1984 as I did, Microsoft's "innovations" in Windows 2000 some 15 years later might seem a bit less amazing. In 1984 we had aerial photos on LaserDisc overlaid with terrain data that we could draw on, and real-time position data in a distributed database with mesh networking for geotracking important operational assets. You could take a bomb to all but one node in the system, and that last node would stay up and have the latest propagated data. Yes, it took three or four seconds to redraw when you shifted scale or moved the map, but it was 1984. We had csh, ksh, X-Windows with widgets that looked better than W2k's. Networking was assumed. It was a multiuser system with an evolved system of managing user security that persists to this day. This was about nine months after Microsoft had invented the remarkable "subdirectory" concept with DOS 2.0, and 14 years before they included an IP stack by default. </sarcasm>.

        Back then it took about 12 minutes to draft a professional one page letter using a CPT dedicated word processing station with full-page WYSYWIG and a SCSI daisy wheel printer. Today you can do a Google maps mashup of your own Cell GPS geolocation data in real time, and it takes about 25 minutes to craft a one-page letter. So the advantage of 25 years of progress is that technolgies are cheaper and more common and individuals are less effective.

        A default install of SVR2 included development tools - grep, lex, yacc, awk, sed, an assembler, compiler, and cross-compiler for new hardware architectures, the source for the OS and all the tools, an ip stack including email. It was a multiuser environment. The processor performance graph, to give an example, included an animated graph of the pen writing the data on the scrolling log - an unnecessary but artful use of screen space that I miss to this day.

        Rock solid? Windows 2000? Give me a break! If you think W2k was rock solid you have low standards [wikipedia.org].

        Microsoft marketed Windows 2000 as the most secure Windows version ever,[15] but it became the target of a number of high-profile virus attacks such as Code Red and Nimda.[16] Over nine years after its release, it continues to receive patches for security vulnerabilities nearly every month.

        Windows 2000 was a remarkable advance in the scope of "Microsoft operating systems". People who know better found nothing special in it. It wasn't as good as eight year old Jolix [wikipedia.org] then, and it still isn't [wikipedia.org].

        • The term "rock solid" never had anything to do with being secure. It was about stability and Windows 2000 was the first NT kernel based OS that was targeted to consumers. It was a great improvement over the real-mode based win9x versions.

          Ironically, in Slashdot fashion, the summary of note 15 in wikipedia.org is misleading. The quote about security was in the context of Kerberos, it wasn't about talking about viruses. Although arguably Windows 2000 was the most secure Windows version, it wasn't actually mar

        • Right. I think the "30" high def graphical terminal" was SVR2's most innovative feature.

        • The part you left out is that SVR-anything cost something like $5,000 per machine.

          Also the entire UNIX workstation environment rolled over and died when Windows NT hit the market. Essentially nothing was done for a decade until Linux started taking hold. Sun couldn't even be arsed to change the color scheme from the vintage Reagan-era pastels until a couple years ago.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by drinkypoo (153816)

            The part you left out is that SVR-anything cost something like $5,000 per machine.

            So? We're talking about a time when a top-end PC cost $3500.

            • So? We're talking about a time when a top-end PC cost $3500.

              And a top-end UNIX workstation cost $20,000. Gee, I can't imagine why the $3500 PC with the $300 Windows NT sold. Especially after the Pentium Pro almost closed the performance gap.

              (Not to mention that if you wanted UNIX with that PC, you had to go to SCO.)

      • by jvkjvk (102057)

        Linux is more difficult to mold into that schematic by its very nature. Different projects that integrate into one distribution release at different times.

        I don't see why. Pick the set of component to look at the ones that are installed by default from the $distribution of your choice. Just pick what was available on the same date as the release of the Microsoft or Apple products.

        That would be the comparable set of diffs you would want to look at. What happened in $version to $version+1 timeframe on linux?

        This could be interesting, as each competitor would capture a different moment in time to diff.

        Perhaps also, Linux could then be used as a sort of default

    • Sorry, no. (Score:2, Informative)

      by symbolset (646467)

      This behaviour is in Microsoft's DNA from the first dealings with Gary Kildall [wikipedia.org] to the current i4i [groklaw.net] debacle. It didn't mysteriously originate at the moment that Microsoft turned the corner from logarithmic growth to slow decline in January of 2000. For that radical course correction we need look no further than the appointment of Steve Ballmer to the helm on that day.

      Obviously Ballmer isn't responsible for the culture that established these behaviours - he inherited that. We should just be thankful he's n

      • Bill Gates recommended Gary Kildall's CP/M to IBM and Kildall was unable or unwilling to close the deal. Both MS and IBM were acting in good faith.
         

  • Surely the Evangeline* is War email is pure and simple evidence that they are evil and we should do everything in our power to oppose them. A company as big as that should be scrupulously decent and honest and try to avoid any embarrassment --- but apparently they no longer feel embarrassed about their own actions --- a bit like a friend of mine who gets high and then acts like a c**ck but really doesn't seem to feel ashamed of his own behaviour --- so he keeps on doing stupid things until I hit him. Faceb

  • After realizing how embarrassing the documents were to Microsoft

    I find this hard to beleive. After all, they did release Vista.

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