United States v. Microsoft Corp exhibits | I'm trying some experimental tiers on Patreon to see if I can get to substack-like levels of financial support for this blog without moving to substack!

Links to exhibits from the Microsoft anti-trust case, with a few notes on some of the links. There are 945 public exhibits (the highest numbered exhibit is 2519, but many exhibits were only admitted under seal and many were also not admitted), so this is a work in progress as I read through exhibits.

I think it's striking to compare pop conceptions of what Microsoft execs were thinking vs. actual thoughts from execs, e.g., Paul Graham, writing almost a decade after these documents went into the public record, in typical comment about Microsoft cluelessness, said

Gmail also showed how much you could do with web-based software, if you took advantage of what later came to be called "Ajax." And that was the second cause of Microsoft's death: everyone can see the desktop is over. It now seems inevitable that applications will live on the web—not just email, but everything, right up to Photoshop. Even Microsoft sees that now.

Ironically, Microsoft unintentionally helped create Ajax. The x in Ajax is from the XMLHttpRequest object, which lets the browser communicate with the server in the background while displaying a page. (Originally the only way to communicate with the server was to ask for a new page.) XMLHttpRequest was created by Microsoft in the late 90s because they needed it for Outlook. What they didn't realize was that it would be useful to a lot of other people too—in fact, to anyone who wanted to make web apps work like desktop ones.

But if we look at what execs said in the mid 90s, which encompasses a lot of thoughts running into the early 90s, Microsoft execs knew exactly what they were doing they extended web standards and had fairly good (as in business savvy, not moral) reasons for doing so. Their game plan didn't work out for a variety of reasons, but the fact that they managed to half execute their strategy is the reason a $2T company today in 2022 (the 2nd most valuable tech company on the planet), while the traditional competitors they were worried about and discussed at length (Novell, IBM, AT&T, Yahoo, Sun, etc.) are now dead or irrelevant and Microsoft is the company that created TypeScript, LINQ, VSCode, WSL, etc.

There are real reasons that Microsoft's strategy didn't work and lessons to be learned from those reasons, but learning those lessons requires actually understanding what happened and not just trashing Microsoft as a company full of bad leadership that doesn't have any good programmers.

Thanks to Laurie Tratt and @jackinlondon for comments/corrections/discussion.