Back in October 1998, around the time for Halloween, an internal Microsoft memo leaked to the public, and got ripped appart by the Open Source Software (OSS) community. Ever since, more documents leaked, the last one just last week, the Halloween VII document.

The title is “Attitudes Towards Shared Source and Open Source Research Study”, and the memo discusses Microsoft’s strategy towards Linux and OSS. The study looks at the effectiveness of past Microsoft strategies: (1) they discover that bad-mouthing OSS doesn’t work; (2) they discover that their Shared Source model could be effective, but few people know about it.

Second, they explored the reasons why people use OSS. The top two reasons were (1) for lower TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), and (2) as an alternative to Microsoft.

This puts Microsoft in a tough position. It’s not easy to offer a lower TCO – especially for the more successful OSS projects (like Linux or Apache). If this memo can be taken seriously, I would expect to see more talk about Shared Source in the future. It will be interesting to observe the next moves from Redmond.