Tim O’Reilly’s Pen Letter To The Internet Community Pressures Microsoft  

Published on: July 10, 2003
Last Updated: July 10, 2003

Tim O’Reilly’s Pen Letter To The Internet Community Pressures Microsoft  

Published on: July 10, 2003
Last Updated: July 10, 2003

Shades of the PentiumTM bug! Who can forget the lesson Intel® learned in 1995, when a flaw in its processor was discovered and publicized via Internet newsgroups?

Last week Microsoft® was similarly chastened when it announced a radical new pricing strategy for Windows NT® that would have effectively precluded the use of NT Workstation as a web server.

We say “would have,” because the storm of criticism (led by Tim O’Reilly, President , O’Reilly & Associates) prompted Microsoft to, er, reconsider.

Below, Intranet Journal presents Mr. O’Reilly’s letter and Microsoft’s answering press release — a case study in the power of the Internet to communicate with, and influence, giants.

An Open Letter To The Internet Community

You may have already heard that in Microsoft’s upcoming NT Workstation 4.0, functionality will be significantly reduced.

If you want to run *any* Web server–O’Reilly’s, Microsoft’s, or others’–on NT, you’ll have to buy NT Server for $999.

The implications of Microsoft’s actions are serious for the Web community, and I encourage you to help spread the word about it.

First, the facts (which have previously been mentioned about [sic] on WS Talk): NT Workstation 4.0 will limit the number of unique IP addresses which can contact a Web server to 10 or fewer in a 10-minute period.

No previous version of NT Workstation has contained this limitation. Of course, this effectively eliminates NT Workstation as an option for Internet or Intranet Web server usage.

Now, the implications: this development will choke off one of the most important new directions for the Web: its return to its roots as a groupware information sharing system for the desktop.

Like email and the PC itself, Web publishing belongs on the desktop. With the higher price tag of NT Server ($999 vs. $290), users who have never before put up a web site will be extremely unlikely to do so.

This move by Microsoft will hurt the efforts of Web developers, Intranet developers, and Internet service providers, a great many of whom have been happy to create sites on NT Workstation.

Microsoft has been saying that IIS (the Web server they include with NT Server) is free, and quite clearly, this is now exposed as untrue.

Developers will have to stick with the older NT Workstation operating system if they want to use any server other than IIS (noted for its security problems), or will have to upgrade and pay extra for the server of their choice.

As Bob Denny says: “When I first started developing Web servers in 1994, nearly all Web serving was done on the Unix platform.

Considering that companies such as O’Reilly & Associates, Netscape, and a half dozen more, pushed hard in the fight to legitimize NT vs. Unix as a Web server platform over the last 18 months, Microsoft’s actions are pretty extreme.”

I’ve sent email to Bill Gates to let him know of my personal concern about the impact of his plans on Web users and developers.

I encourage anyone interested in maintaining the open systems nature of the Web to send email to Microsoft, post this news on their sites and in newsgroups, and write letters to editors, to put pressure on Microsoft to reverse their decision.

They’ve reversed such decisions before, when people have expressed their opinions about an important issue such as this.


Tim O'Reilly
O'Reilly & Associates

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Written by Bobby

Bobby Lawson is a seasoned technology writer with over a decade of experience in the industry. He has written extensively on topics such as cybersecurity, cloud computing, and data analytics. His articles have been featured in several prominent publications, and he is known for his ability to distill complex technical concepts into easily digestible content.