The Halloween Documents


Where will Microsoft try to drag you today?
Do you really want to go there?

In the last week of October 1998, a confidential Microsoft memorandum on Redmond's strategy against Linux and Open Source software was leaked to me by a source who shall remain nameless. I annotated this memorandum with explanation and commentary over Halloween Weekend and released it to the national press. Microsoft was forced to acknowledge its authenticity. The press rightly treated it as a major story and covered it (with varying degrees of cluefulness).

The now-infamous "Halloween Document" contained references to a second memorandum specifically on Linux. Within days, copies of the second memo had been forwarded to me from two separate sources. I renamed the first annotated version "Halloween I" and set about annotating the second. While not as dramatic or sinister in its implications as its predecessor, Halloween II includes a lot of material at variance with Microsoft's public party line on Linux.

This page originally continued with an anti-Microsoft jeremiad. On reflection, however, I think I'd prefer to finish by thanking the principal authors, Vinod Valloppillil and Josh Cohen, for authoring such remarkable and effective testimonials to the excellence of Linux and open-source software in general. I suspect that historians may someday regard the Halloween memoranda as your finest hour, and the Internet community certainly owes you a vote of thanks.

Over time, these memoranda have grown into quite a series. The Halloween Documents I, II, III, VII, VIII and X are leaked Microsoft documents with annotations. IV is a satire based on an idiotic lead-with-the-chin remark by the person who was at the time Microsoft's anti-Linux point person; V is serious comment on a statement by the same fool. VI is a takedown of one of the bought-and-paid-for "independent studies" Microsoft marketing leans on so heavily, IX refutes the Amended Complaint by Microsoft's sock puppets at SCO, and XI is a field report from one of Microsoft's marketing road shows. The common theme is that the Halloween Documents reveal, from Microsoft's own words, the things Microsoft doesn't want you to know.

Eric S. Raymond <>