15 May 2002 An email to top Microsoft executives from founder and chairman Bill Gates has revealed that he approved of Microsoft involvement in the Web Services Interoperality (WSI) standards organisation as long as Sun’s role was minimised.
State attorneys presented the email in court yesterday as part of the ongoing antitrust trial against the company. “I can live with this if we have the positioning clearly in our favour,” Gates wrote. “In particular, Sun not being one of the movers/announcers/founding members.”
Although not mentioning the WSI directly, the email mentioned “foo”, the name Microsoft used internally for the WS-I before it was founded.
The WSI aims to promote web services by ensuring that software from various technology makers is interoperable. More than 100 members have joined the group since Microsoft and IBM launched it in February, but Sun has been kept off the company’s board and has declined to join as a contributing member.
Analysts fear that political in-fighting among IBM, Microsoft and Sun could stop the web services market from taking off. But Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer argued that Sun wants to keep web services Java-based, which is against the principles of the technology.
Nevertheless, an email from Charles Fitzgerald, general manager of Microsoft’s platform strategy group said, “Foo gives us air cover for both de facto implementation and our next wave of standards in this space.”