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.

Before emailing or phoning me with a question about these documents, please read the Halloween Documents Frequently-Asked Questions.

Here they are:

Halloween I:   
Open Source Software -- A (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.

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.

Here are some links to press coverage:

Halloween I:
The Wall Street Journal; The Washington Post; The Boston Globe; The New York Times; San Jose Mercury PC Week; TechWeb; C|Net; C|Net (again); C|Net (yet again) InfoWorld; The Register; Wired News; The Industry Standard; LinuxWorld; DaveNet; Salon Magazine; Reuters; CNN.
Halloween II:
Detroit News; C|Net; Wired News; PC Week; Inter@ctive Week; ZDnet; InfoWorld; C|Net.
Great Britain's The Guardian has written a particularly trenchant take on the memos.

Other followup coverage: C|Net; Christian Science Monitor.

In other articles: the backgrounds of the contributors to Halloween I have been investigated; Robert Brown has written a witty commentary on the Halloween I memorandum; and Tim O'Reilly has responded with an open letter to Microsoft.

Here are some translations: Halloween I in Spanish; Halloween II in Spanish; Halloween III in Spanish; Halloween I in Japanese; Halloween II in Japanese; Halloween III in Japanese; Halloween I in Italian; Halloween II in Italian; Halloween III in Italian; the Halloween Documents in both Simplified and Traditional Chinese versions.

Eric S. Raymond <>