'Halloween' - was it faked?

For Microsoft critics, the posting to the web of two 'confidential' Microsoft memos suggesting ways to combat the open source and Linux movements was cause for celebration.

But now that the post-"Halloween memo" revelry is subsiding, some pundits and industry officials are wondering aloud whether Microsoft possibly might have leaked the memos in order to prove to the US Department of Justice and the world at large that Microsoft isn't a monopolist. What better way to prove vulnerability than to publicise Microsoft's soul-wrenching attempts to head off Linux, Apache, Mozilla and other freely distributable and modifiable products?

All this sounds plausible in theory, says open source evangelist Eric Raymond, the self-proclaimed "hacker/anarchist" who obtained Halloween I and II and posted them, but it couldn't be further from the truth, he says.

"Microsoft behaved in a way that showed it was surprised when the first memo came out. But it decided it was too dangerous to lie about it with the DOJ sniffing around," claims Raymond.

Raymond said he obtained Halloween I -- an analysis of the open source movement that was prepared and distributed inside Microsoft in mid-August by Microsoft engineer Vinod Valloppillil -- from "a guy who said he had been sitting on it for months."

Raymond acknowledged he did not know how and whether that person was affiliated with Microsoft. Raymond says he got Halloween II, a follow-up analysis on the threat posed to Microsoft by Linux, from two different people, one of whom identified himself as "a former Microsoft employee."

Raymond annotated the Microsoft white papers (which he designated as the Halloween memos because he posted them on Halloween weekend) with his own analysis of Microsoft's strategy. Today, Raymond posted an annotated version of comments about the Halloween memos from a Microsoft Netherlands spokeswoman and designated that document "Halloween III". Raymond decided to make the memos public because he felt Microsoft has been attempting to spread FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about Linux and open source and he wanted to set the record straight.

"I don't have any more memos up my sleeve. But the next time Microsoft tries to FUD open source, I'll be ready to judo-flip their memos and press releases right back at them," Raymond boasts.

For those quick to dismiss Raymond as just another guy looking for DOJ attention, Raymond adds that he is not in favor of the current antitrust case against Microsoft.

"I want to see consumers break Microsoft on the wheel, not the government," Raymond says. "The government usually suppresses competition, rather than promotes it."