Embrace, extend and extinguish

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"Embrace, extend and extinguish,"[1] also known as "Embrace, extend, and exterminate,"[2] is a phrase that the U.S. Department of Justice found[3] was used internally by Microsoft[4] to describe their strategy for entering product categories involving widely used standards, extending those standards with proprietary capabilities, and then using those differences to disadvantage its competitors.


[edit] Origin

The strategy and phrase "embrace and extend" were first described outside Microsoft in a 1996 New York Times article entitled "Microsoft Trying to Dominate the Internet,"[5] in which John Markoff said, "Rather than merely embrace and extend the Internet, the company's critics now fear, Microsoft intends to engulf it." The phrase "embrace and extend" also appears in a facetious motivational song by Microsoft employee Dean Ballard,[6] and in an interview of Steve Ballmer by the New York Times.[7]

The more widely used variation, "embrace, extend and extinguish," was first introduced in the United States v. Microsoft antitrust trial when the vice president of Intel, Steven McGeady, testified[8] that Microsoft vice president Paul Maritz used the phrase in a 1995 meeting with Intel to describe Microsoft's strategy toward Netscape, Java, and the Internet.[9][10] In this context, the phrase means to highlight the final phase of Microsoft's strategy as raised by McGeady, which was to drive customers away from smaller competitors.

An older variant of the phrase is "embrace, extend then innovate" in J Allard's 1994 memo "Windows: The Next Killer Application on the Internet" to Paul Maritz and other executives at Microsoft. The memo starts with a backgrounder on the Internet in general, and then proposes a strategy on how to turn Windows into the next "killer app" for the Internet:

"In order to build the necessary respect and win the mindshare of the Internet community, I recommend a recipe not unlike the one we've used with our TCP/IP efforts: embrace, extend, then innovate.
  • Phase 1 (Embrace): all participants need to establish a solid understanding of the infostructure and the community - determine the needs and the trends of the user base. Only then can we effectively enable Microsoft system products to be great Internet systems.
  • Phase 2 (Extend): establish relationships with the appropriate organizations and corporations with goals similar to ours. Offer well-integrated tools and services compatible with established and popular standards that have been developed in the Internet community.
  • Phase 3 (Innovate): move into a leadership role with new Internet standards as appropriate, enable standard off-the-shelf titles with Internet awareness.
Change the rules: Windows become the next-generation Internet tool of the future."

[edit] The strategy

The alleged strategy's three phases are[11]

  1. Embrace: Development of software substantially compatible with a competing product, or implementing a public standard.
  2. Extend: Addition and promotion of features not supported by the competing product or part of the standard, creating interoperability problems for customers who try to use the 'simple' standard.
  3. Extinguish: When extensions become a de facto standard because of their dominant market share, they marginalize competitors that do not or cannot support the new extensions.

The U.S. Department of Justice, Microsoft critics, and computer-industry journalists[12][13][14] claim that the goal of the strategy is to monopolize a product category. Such a strategy differs from J. Allard's originally proposed strategy of embrace, extend then innovate both in content and phases. Microsoft claims that the original strategy is not anti-competitive, but rather an exercise of its discretion to implement features it believes customers want.[15]

[edit] Examples

  • Breaking Java's portability: The antitrust case's plaintiffs also accused Microsoft of using an "embrace and extend" strategy with regard to the Java platform, which was designed explicitly with the goal of developing programs that could run on any operating system, be it Windows, Mac, or Linux. They claimed that, by omitting the Java Native Interface from its implementation and providing J/Direct for a similar purpose, Microsoft deliberately tied Windows Java programs to its platform, making them unusable on Linux and Mac systems. According to an internal communication, Microsoft sought to downplay Java's cross-platform capability and make it "just the latest, best way to write Windows applications."[16] Microsoft paid Sun US$20 million in January 2001 to settle the resulting legal implications of their breach of contract.[17]
  • Networking: In 2000, an extension to the Kerberos networking protocol (an Internet standard) was included in Windows 2000, effectively denying all products except those made by Microsoft access to a Windows 2000 Server using Kerberos.[18] The extension was published through an executable, whose running required agreeing to an NDA, disallowing third party implementation (especially open source). To allow developers to implement the new features, without having to agree to the license, users on Slashdot posted the document (disregarding the NDA), effectively allowing third party developers to access the documentation without having agreed to the NDA. Microsoft responded by asking Slashdot to remove the content.[19]
  • Instant Messaging: In 2001, CNet's News.com described an instance of "embrace, extend, extinguish" concerning Microsoft's instant messaging program.[20]
  • Adobe fears: Adobe Systems refused to let Microsoft implement built-in PDF support, citing fears of EEE.[21]
  • Employee testimony: In 2007, Ronald Alepin gave sworn expert testimony for the plaintiffs in Comes v. Microsoft in which he cited internal Microsoft emails to justify the claim that the company intentionally employed this practice.[22]
  • More Browser Incompatibilities (CSS, data:, etc.): A decade after the original Netscape-related antitrust suit, the web browser company Opera Software has filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft with the European Union saying it "calls on Microsoft to adhere to its own public pronouncements to support these standards, instead of stifling them with its notorious 'Embrace, Extend and Extinguish' strategy."[23]

[edit] Companies other than Microsoft

During the browser wars, other companies besides Microsoft introduced proprietary, non-standards-compliant extensions. For example, in 1995, Netscape implemented the "font" tag, among other HTML extensions, without seeking review from a standards body. With the rise of Internet Explorer, the two companies became locked in a dead heat to out-implement each other with non-standards-compliant features.[24]

In 2004, to prevent a repeat of the "browser wars," and the resulting morass of conflicting standards, Apple (makers of Safari), Mozilla (makers of Firefox), and Opera (makers of the Opera browser) formed the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group to create open standards to complement those of the World Wide Web Consortium.[25] Microsoft has so far refused to join, citing the group's lack of a patent policy as the reason.[26]

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. ^ "Deadly embrace". The Economist. 2000-03-30. http://www.economist.com/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=298112. Retrieved on 2006-03-31. 
  2. ^ "Microsoft limits XML in Office 2003". http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-996528.html. Retrieved on 2006-03-31. 
  3. ^ "US Department of Justice Proposed Findings of Fact - Revised". http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/f2600/v-a.pdf. 
  4. ^ "US Department of Justice Proposed Findings of Fact". http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/f2600/2613.htm. 
  5. ^ John Markoff (July 16, 1996). "Microsoft Trying to Dominate the Internet". New York Times. 
  6. ^ Rebello, Kathy (1996-07-15). "INSIDE MICROSOFT (Part 1)". Business Week. http://www.businessweek.com/1996/29/b34841.htm. Retrieved on 2006-03-31. 
  7. ^ Steve Lohr, "Preaching from the Ballmer Pulpit." New York Times, Sunday, January 28, 2007. pp. 3-1, 3-8, 3-9.
  8. ^ "Steven McGeady court testimony". http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/msdoj/transcripts/1110a.doc. Retrieved on 2006-03-31.  (DOC format)
  9. ^ "United States v. Microsoft: Trial Summaries (page 2)". http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/msdoj/transcript/summaries2.html. Retrieved on 2006-03-31. 
  10. ^ "IN MICROSOFT WE TRUST". http://reactor-core.org/in-microsoft-we-trust.html. Retrieved on 2006-03-31. 
  11. ^ "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish (IT Vendor Strategies)". http://www.hr.com/servlets/sfs?&t=/Default/gateway&i=1116423256281&b=1116423256281&application=story&active=no&ParentID=1119278102301&StoryID=1119649742078. Retrieved on 2007-10-14. 
  12. ^ "Deadly embrace". http://www.economist.com/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=298112. Retrieved on 2006-03-31. 
  13. ^ "Microsoft messaging tactics recall browser wars". http://news.com.com/Microsoft+messaging+tactics+recall+browser+wars/2009-1023_3-267971.html. Retrieved on 2006-03-31. 
  14. ^ "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish: Three Strikes And You're Out". http://www.ddj.com/documents/s=882/ddj0008q/. Retrieved on 2006-03-31. 
  15. ^ "U.S. v. Microsoft: We're Defending Our Right to Innovate". http://openacademy.mindef.gov.sg/openacademy/Learning%20Resources/Microsoft/words/words_4.htm. Retrieved on 2006-03-31. 
  16. ^ Matt Richtel (1998-10-22). "Memos Released in Sun-Microsoft Suit". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C02EEDE103DF931A15753C1A96E958260&sec=&spon=&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink. Retrieved on 2008-02-22. "The court documents state that in April 1997, Ben Slivka, the Microsoft manager responsible for executing the Java strategy, sent an E-mail to Microsoft's chairman, William H. Gates, noting "When I met with you last, you had a lot of pretty pointed questions about Java, so I want to make sure I understand your issues and concerns." Mr. Slivka goes on to ask if Mr. Gates's concerns included "How do we wrest control of Java away from Sun?" and "How we turn Java into just the latest, best way to write Windows applications?" 
  17. ^ "Sun, Microsoft settle Java suit". http://news.com.com/2100-1001-251401.html. Retrieved on 2001-01-23. 
  18. ^ "Microsoft's Kerberos shuck and jive". 2000-05-11. http://www.networkworld.com/news/2000/0511kerberos.html. 
  19. ^ "Microsoft Asks Slashdot To Remove Readers' Posts". http://features.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=00/05/11/0153247&mode=thread. 
  20. ^ Jim Hu (2001-06-07). "Microsoft messaging tactics recall browser wars". CNet News.com. http://news.com.com/Microsoft+messaging+tactics+recall+browser+wars/2009-1023_3-267971.html. 
  21. ^ CIO: Adobe Speaks Out on Microsoft PDF Battle
  22. ^ Expert Testimony of Ronald Alepin in Comes v. Microsoft - Embrace, Extend, Extinguish, Groklaw, January 8, 2007.
  23. ^ Opera files antitrust complaint with the EU
  24. ^ "The Problem with Standards". http://www.webmonkey.com/webmonkey/98/43/index0a_page2.html?tw=archive. Retrieved on 2006-11-07. 
  25. ^ "What is the WHATWG and why did it form?". http://blog.whatwg.org/faq/#whattf. Retrieved on 2007-08-25. 
  26. ^ http://channel9.msdn.com/podcasts/MSConversations_wilson_ch9.mp3 at approximately 00:39:30

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