Halloween VII: Survey Says
The document reproduced below was presented at a Microsoft internal
Linux Strategic Review held at the Microsoft offices in Berlin during
Sept. 2002. I received it on 5 November 2002.
What We Can Learn
Here's a summary of the tactical advice for open-source advocates
that I think we can glean from this memo:
The messages and tactics the open-source community has
developed over the last five years are working well. Our memes
about security, TCO, and competitive impact have achieved deep
penetration in Microsoft's survey population. Abstract arguments
about intellectual property rights, on the other hand, have
served Microsoft just as poorly as they have served us.
Microsoft's FUD attacks on open source have not only
failed, they have backfired strongly enough to show up in Microsoft's
own market research as a problem. This means we don't need to put
a lot of energy into anti-FUD defending the open-source way of doing
things. Indications are we've won that battle; effort should now go
We need to keep Microsoft's feet to the fire on the TCO
issue. Their figures indicate that we're winning that battle (no
surprise, especially not after the XP licensing changes). If the memo
recommendations are followed, Microsoft will attempt to reverse this
with all the money and marketing clout it can muster.
Familiarity with open source makes respondents less
vulnerable to Microsoft's ‘shared source’ scam. The
higher respondents scored on familiarity with open source, the less
likely they were to judge that shared source offers the same benefits.
We need to keep hammering on the difference between source that you
can see only after signing a Microsoft NDA or non-competition
agreement and source that anyone can examine, modify, and
redistribute. Emphasizing the poison-pill problem is
Internationally, a distaste for being dependent on U.S.
technology companies in general (and Microsoft in particular) is
exploitable. Microsoft perceives serious problems with
this, as well it should.
High approval has not yet translated into wide
deployments. More managers like Linux in theory than routinely
use it in practice. This suggests that many are either waiting to see
results from large path-breaker deployments by others or are hampered
by organizational inertia.
The risk that Microsoft will go on a patent-lawsuit
rampage, designed more to scare potential open-source users than to
actually shut down developers, is substantial. The language about
“concrete actions” in relation to IPR has the same ominous
feel that the talk of "de-commoditizing protocols" did in Halloween I
The term ‘free software’ isn't mentioned once, not
even as an exploitable weakness. This contrasts strongly with the
original Halloween Memoranda. I'm not sure what this means, but
one strong possibility is that the term has simply fallen out of use
both at Microsoft and in their survey population.
The overall tone of the memorandum is very defensive. Not quite
panicky, but the researchers are not able to name any
argument with the open-source community that their own figures show
them to be winning.
In fact, their figures indicate that we are winning. It
looks like all we have to do is stay the course.
Reading The Memo
Some helpful vocabulary, deduced partly from usage in the document
itself and partly from looking at Microsoft documents that have
leaked onto the Web.
Business Development Manager: fancy term for IT salespeople and
IT sales managers.
A non-manager. In this survey, a disjoint category from
“IT Pro‘. Therefore, it probably means anybody with a
- IT Pro
IT middle manager, what we'd call a PHB (Pointy-Haired Boss).
- Issue Elites
Seems to refer to both policymakers in education/government and
(though less certainly) influence leaders among strategic-level
Bad markup generated by Microsoft's broken-as-usual HTML
tools has been corrected. Sections in this color are portions I think particularly
noteworthy. My comments are in .
Attitudes Towards Shared Source and Open Source Research Study
Due to the sensitive nature of this information, please forward
with discretion only to those people who can
clearly gain value from it.. For those members of the Linux
Strategic Review Core and Virtual Teams, this information is for
background use/understanding during the Linux Strategic Review.
This mail provides a detailed summary of the results of the
Attitudes Towards Shared Source & Open Source Research
Project managed by Kathryn Marsman and directed by David Kaefer
and Jason Matusow. The Shared Source project was developed to provide
a greater understanding of how key audiences perceive Open Source,
Linux, Shared Source, and the GPL and which messages will be effective
with each audience. The survey was fielded in the U.S., Brazil,
France, Germany, Sweden, & Japan with developers, IT and non-IT
BDMs, IT Pros and Issue Elites. Please note that save for the U.S.,
the individual country and audience sample sizes are extremely
small. The survey questionnaire and samples were developed
collaboratively by Redmond, the subsidiaries and the survey
vendor. All data collection utilized a telephone-based interviewing
process. The study fielded between late-July and September
2001. The detailed summary below drills into OSS and Linux
familiarity and favorability, those reasons people give for being
supportive of OSS and Linux, Shared Source familiarity and
favorability, and OSS, Linux and Shared Source messaging. Key
Familiarity and favorability for OSS and
Linux was high across geographies & audiences.
Eighty-one percent (81%) of respondents Worldwide said they were at
least 'somewhat' familiar with OSS; 77% of respondents Worldwide said
they were at least 'somewhat' familiar with Linux. Worldwide 78% of
OSS familiar respondents said they had a favorable impression of OSS;
Linux favorability among the Linux familiar
While respondents cited OSS's 'low Total Cost of Ownership
(TCO)' as one of the best reasons to support OSS, an 'alternative to
Microsoft' did not lag far behind. A plurality (40%) of all
respondents felt that a low TCO was the best reason to support OSS.
One-third of all respondents cited 'an
alternative to Microsoft' as one of the best reasons to support
Though familiarity with Microsoft's Shared Source initiative is
low, the reaction to Shared Source was positive. Thirty-nine
percent (39%) of respondents said they had heard 'something' about
Microsoft's Shared Source initiative, while 60% said they had heard
'very little' (35%) or 'nothing' (25%). When read a brief description
of Microsoft's Shared Source initiative, the reaction is more positive
(47%) than negative (15%). The other third of respondents said they
were ‘neutral’ towards Shared Source.
Messages that criticize OSS, Linux,
& the GPL are NOT effective. Messaging that
discusses possible Linux patent violations, pings the OSS development
process for lacking accountability, attempts to call out the 'viral'
aspect of the GPL, and the like are only marginally effective in
driving unfavorable opinions around OSS, Linux, and the GPL, and in some cases backfire. On the other hand
‘positive’ OSS, Linux, and GPL
messages are very effective - both across geographies and
Shared Source messages that offer transparent benefit(s) and are
audience specific ARE effective. Partner audiences (IT BDMs
and developers) are encouraged by messages that indicate that Shared
Source will make it easier to build applications based on APIs and
that Shared Source will build the developer community. Customer
audiences (IT Pros and Non-IT BDMS) respond best to improvements in
the feedback process, and being able to
perform security checks. Issue elites respond extremely
positively to the potential for increased education access to the
Closing, those who are familiar with OSS and Linux are favorably
predisposed towards them. Linking this work with other on-point
research, we can assume that in the majority of cases this reported
'favorability' is more emotional than it is rational. Given this
context, we should not expect rational arguments focused on
undermining support for OSS, Linux and the GPL to perform well. In
the short term, then, Microsoft should avoid
criticizing OSS and Linux directly, continue to develop and aim
to eventually win the TCO argument, and
focus on delivering positive Shared Source messages that contain
transparent, audience specific proof points.
Familiarity & Favorability of Open Source Software (OSS) & Linux
Open Source and Linux are well know and well regarded in these
communities. Overall, a majority of respondents are familiar
with OSS (81%) and Linux (77%). A solid core are ‘very’ or
‘fairly’ familiar with OSS (51%) and Linux (41%). Among
those familiar, strong majorities have a favorable view of OSS (78%)
and Linux (86%). Although favorability is high, the majority of
respondents rated Open Source and Linux as “mostly”
favorable as opposed to “very favorable” indicating that
their favorability was not strong.
Familiarity and favorability for OSS and Linux was high
across geographies &
Overall Familiarity, while high among all countries, was
highest among the Japanese. Japanese respondents were the most
familiar with both OSS (88%) and Linux (87%) with nearly 9 out of 10
respondents at least ‘somewhat’ familiar with each. Note
though that the large majority of Japanese respondents said they were
only ‘somewhat’ familiar with both OSS (81%) and Linux
(77%). The reported degree, then, of their familiarity was lower than
the other countries surveyed.
Among those aware, favorability was highest among the
Germans, French, and Brazilians. Favorability was high for
both OSS and Linux among the Germans (86% and 93%,
respectively), Brazilians (85% and 90%), and the French (87% and
Not surprisingly, familiarity of OSS and Linux among the
individual audiences was highest among Developers. A high
percentage of Developers were familiar with both Open Source (87%) and
Among those aware, favorability was highest among the Issue
Elites. Favorability among Issue Elites
was high for OSS (86%) and very high for Linux
Support for Open Source Software & Linux
Overall respondents felt the most
compelling reason to support OSS was that it ‘Offers a low total
cost of ownership (TCO)’. Forty percent (40%) of
all respondents felt that a low TCO was the best reason to support
OSS; however an ‘alternative to Microsoft’ was a strong
second with 34% overall.
French respondents exhibited a strong anti-Microsoft
sentiment as sixty-one percent (61%) stated that ‘an alternative
to Microsoft’ was the most compelling reason to support OSS.
This sentiment was echoed to a lesser extent among the Germans (37%)
and Swedes (35%).
Among the individual audiences, Elites selected ‘an
alternative to Microsoft’ as their primary reason for supporting
French, German, and Brazilian respondents were the most
convinced that Linux offered a low TCO. Sixty percent (60%) of
French, 57% of German, and 53% of Brazilian respondents believe that a
Linux solution offers a lower TCO than proprietary software.
Although familiarity and favorability were strong for
Linux, overall only a quarter of IT respondents were interested in
broadly deploying “Linux in your
Only 24% of IT respondents Worldwide were interested in
broadly deploying Linux in their business. But, respondents in
Germany & Japan do pose an immediate concern. Half of all German
IT respondents (50%) and nearly forty percent (37%) of Japanese IT
respondents were interested in broadly deploying Linux within their
When split by audience, only IT BDMs showed a strong
interest in broadly deploying Linux, with about one-third (33%)
stating interest. This was distantly followed (26%) by IT
Familiarity & Favorability of Microsoft’s Shared Source
While US respondents were the most likely to have heard about
Shared Source (91%) — followed by the Japanese (86%) and the
Swedes (81%) — most respondents had heard only ‘very
little’ about the initiative. The French were the
least likely to have heard anything about Shared Source with only
63% saying they have heard “nothing” at
IT Pros and Developers were the most likely to have heard
something about shared source (79% each). However, the large
majority of respondents reported hearing “just something”
(24%) or “very little” (35%) about shared
source. Twenty-five percent (25%) of all respondents -36% of Issue
Elites - had heard ‘nothing at all’ about Shared
The Reaction to Shared Source is more positive than
negative. When read a brief description of Microsoft’s
Shared Source Initiative, while the reaction is not as
overwhelmingly positive as the reaction to OSS, 47% say that having
heard this description their reaction is at least
‘somewhat’ positive, while only 15% said
‘somewhat’ (10%) or ‘very’ (5%) negative. One
third of respondents (35%) said they have a ‘neutral’
view of Shared Source.
Although not overwhelmingly positive, the majority of US
(55%), Brazil (53%), and French (52%) respondents rated Shared Source
at least ‘somewhat’ positive. The Japanese were the
least convinced with only 30% of respondents rating Shared Source
“somewhat” or “very” positive.
Non-IT BDM’s reacted most positively to the
description of Shared Source, with 57% rating Shared Source as at
least ‘somewhat’ positive. This was followed by IT
BDM’s (50%), IT Pros (44%), Developers (43%), and Issue Elites
. After being read a series of
possible Shared Source benefit statements, large majorities in every
country save for France (41%) said that the Shared Source initiative
offered at least the same benefits as OSS. Focusing in on the
audiences, large majorities of every audience save for Issue Elites
(40%) said that the Shared Source initiative offered at least the same
benefits as OSS. Support for Shared Source was strongest in the
U.S. (73%) and with IT Pros (71%).
Open Source & Linux Messaging
Direct attacks of OSS and Linux are NOT highly
effective. Messaging that discusses
possible Linux patent violations, pings the OSS development process
for lacking accountability, raises the specter of possible security
flaws, and the like are only marginally effective in driving
unfavorable opinions around OSS and Linux, and in some cases
backfire. On the other hand ‘positive’ OSS and Linux
messaging, i.e. access to the source code, the price, lower TCO, the
ability to freely make copies, and the like drive very favorable
opinions around OSS and Linux, both across geographies and
“Linux patent violations/risk of being
sued” struck a chord with US and Swedish respondents.
Seventy-four percent (74%) of Americans and 82% of Swedes stated
that the risk of being sued over Linux patent violations made them
feel less favorable towards Linux. This was the only message that
had a strong impact with any
criticisms of OSS backfire: Ratings for messages that were meant to
be negative actually had a positive response among the
respondents. For example, when read what was supposed to be a
negative OSS message about OSS and proprietary software having a
similar TCO, nearly half (49%) of all respondents said that having
heard this message they were now MORE FAVORABLE towards
effective OSS positives focus on TCO and the ability to compete
with the United States. The top rated messages for OSS among
all audiences were that OSS was ‘Cheaper & allowed free
copies’ (84%), followed by ‘Avoiding payment of royalties
to US companies’ (81%), and ‘the opportunity to build
local the local tech industry to compete with the US’
Shared Source Messaging
The most effective Shared Source messages 1) offer a
transparent benefit and 2) are audience
IT BDMs and developers are encouraged by messages that indicate
that Shared Source will make it easier to build applications based on
APIs and that Shared Source will build the developer
Customers (non-IT IT professionals and BDMS) respond best to
improvements in the feedback process, and being able to perform
Issue elites (with the exception of Japan) respond extremely
positively to increasing education access.
Messages that rely on an abstract
discussion of intellectual property rights are not
The discussion of IP rights needs to be tied to concrete
Note that as with the International Government Elite Survey
(IGES) project, here respondents do not see the connection between
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and a strong technology
Shared Source messages are effective.
After being read this series of possible Shared Source benefit
statements, 60% of all respondents said that the Shared Source
initiative offered at least the same benefits as OSS.
Focusing in on those respondents who said they are
‘mostly favorable’ toward OSS, 60% felt that Shared Source
offers benefits that are equal to (40%) or better than (20%)
Overall, the greatest challenges we face
are with the International audience — especially the French,
Germans, and Japanese.
The French are looking for an alternative to Microsoft, have
high familiarity and favorability of OSS and Linux, and a strong
belief that Linux has a lower TCO than proprietary software. This
geography, while not yet ready to broadly deploy Linux with their
businesses, is very interested in OSS and its potential. The vast
majority of this audience had not heard anything about Shared Source,
but was more positive than negative towards the idea. They do not
feel, however, that Shared Source will provide better benefits than
The Germans are not as familiar with OSS and Linux. However
those that are aware have very high favorability of both OSS and
Linux, and are very interested in broadly deploying Linux. In
addition, a large majority believe that Linux offers a lower TCO. This
audience had heard little about Shared Source, and was mostly neutral
to the idea. However, after hearing about Shared Source, the majority
felt that it could provide ‘about the same’ or
‘better’ benefits as OSS.
The Japanese are very familiar and favorably predisposed
towards OSS and Linux. This geography is interested in broadly
deploying Linux and does believe that it offers a lower TCO than
proprietary software. While many Japanese respondents have heard
something about Shared Source, this audience was mostly neutral on
their feelings towards shared source and most felt it would provide
‘about the same’ or ‘worse’ benefits as
Additional Information (Survey Results/Individual Country and Executive
Research Contact: Kathryn Almendarez Marsman, Research Manager,
Table of Contents
Halloween Documents Home Page
Halloween I: Open Source SoftwareA (New?) Development Methodology
Halloween II: Linux OS Competitive Analysis: The Next Java VM?
Halloween III: Microsoft's reaction on the "Halloween Memorandum" (sic)
Halloween IV: When Software Things Were Rotten: Vinod Vallopillil's boss calls us "Robin Hood and his merry band." We return the compliment.
Halloween V: The FUD Begins!: The Sheriff of Nottingham rides again. In this exciting episode, the things he doesn't say are more interesting than the things he does.
Halloween VI: The Fatal Anniversary: First Mindcraft, now the Gartner GroupMicrosoft leaves a trail of shattered credibility behind it.
Halloween VII: Survey Says!: Microsoft's own marketing research tells it that the FUD is backfiring.
Halloween VIII: Doing the Damage-Control Dance: Microsoft tries to develop an emergency-response team to cope with Linux conversion announcements
Halloween IX: It Ain't Necessarily SCO: A point-by-point rebuttal of the amended complaint.
Halloween X: Follow The Money: In which we learn the extent of SCO's sock-puppet relationship to its master in Redmond.
Get The FUD: Microsoft's "Get The Facts" campaign
is very revealing, including some revelations Microsoft would
probably prefer remained concealed.
Before emailing or phoning me with a question about these documents,
please read the Halloween Documents Frequently-Asked Questions.
Links to press coverage