Re: Microsoft buys TeX! Knuth sells out! (fwd)
When Aria Prima Novianto wrote, I replied:
> Did anybody else see this news item today? Thought it might be of
Boy, Am I glad that it's April 1 !!!
> *) Aria
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> MICROSOFT BUYS TEX, PLANS NEW PRODUCTS
> STANFORD PROFESSOR REAPS WINDFALL
> PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA, USA (CNEWS/MSNBC) --- In a major move into the
> scientific publishing market, Microsoft Corporation announced today that it
> has purchased all rights to the computer language and document compiler known
> as TeX (pronounced, "tech"), and plans a major new product line based on the
> 20-year-old software.
> Stanford Professor Donald Knuth (pronounced, "kah-nooth"), the author of the
> widely-used TeX software, in a joint press conference at the university campus
> with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, acknowledged that the two had been
> negotiating for some months. "I felt that two decades of TeX in the public
> domain was enough. I am reasserting the copyright to my original work in TeX.
> Microsoft will carry the ball now, and I can get back to my computer science
> research." Knuth acknowledged he was paid a "seven-figure sum" from
> Microsoft, which he will use to finance his work on a project he has
> code-named "Volume 4".
> At the press conference, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said the acquisition
> was "the kind of cooperation between academia and industry that builds
> prosperity for both." He added that TeX would "finally give Microsoft a
> foothold in mathematical desktop publishing" that has eluded the software
> giant since its founding. Drawing gasps of surprise from the college
> audience, Gates asserted that "TeX will soon be biggest jewel in the Microsoft
> Apparently the jewel metaphor will include a hefty, unavoidable price tag for
> future TeX users. Gates outlined plans whereby all existing TeX compilers
> would be phased out, to be replaced by a new Microsoft master implementation
> written in C++. Beta versions for public testing on Windows 95 and NT
> platforms are expected in late 1998, issuing from a new 205-programmer project
> laboratory at Microsoft's Redmond campus. Microsoft TeX for other platforms,
> such as Unix workstations, will follow at an as-yet unspecified date.
> According to Gates, "the master TeX from Microsoft will ensure that the
> incompatibilities across platforms are once and for all eliminated." TeX
> software is widely used due its portability, although variations among
> operating systems have been troublesome due to uncoordinated development.
> Unlike the technical aspects of the project, Gates explained that pricing for
> Microsoft TeX has already been firmly set. The single-user retail product is
> expected to have a street price of about $600 and consist of three CDs. When
> heckled by an graduate student complaining about a high price for a formerly
> free product, Gates seemed startled, explaining that a "student edition at
> $299 is likely" and that "Microsoft will use the revenue to make TeX better."
> Most current users of TeX have paid nothing for their implementations, derived
> from Professor Knuth's formerly-free work. Before leaving the podium, Gates
> made a final comment that "TeX hasn't changed in years. What kind of a
> product can that be?", and then handed the microphone to an assistant,
> introduced only as the project leader for Microsoft TeX.
> The assistant displayed an overhead presentation using the current test
> version of Microsoft TeX. Equations and tables could be seen dissolving into
> each other in a morphing action between frames. "No one has ever done that
> with TeX," Gates announced from an audience seat at one point. "It's the kind
> of sizzle that can really enliven a dull paper at an academic conference."
> Some onlookers were not convinced, especially when the program crashed midway
> through the demonstration, resulting in a five-minute delay while Windows 95
> was restarted. Microsoft technicians later blamed a third-party display
> The impact on the large base of existing TeX users was unclear. During a
> question-and-answer period, Gates said that the "TeX" trademark would be
> registered as the exclusive property of Microsoft, and could not appear in any
> competitive or free software. "We are granting of our own good will until the
> 3rd quarter of 1998, free use to any existing TeX vendors or public-domain
> authors. That's plenty of time for an orderly phase-out and change-over to
> Microsoft TeX, or no TeX at all. After that, our legal department will be
> contacting them."
> A Microsoft attorney added that some of the project personnel would be
> dedicated to searching the Internet to find non-Microsoft TeX software.
> "Archives and collections of TeX-related programs will not be permitted. The
> standards must be enforced, or they become meaningless. We are rescuing a
> fine piece of work from being diluted into worthlessness. You would not
> believe the number of programs that have been based on TeX without any
> central, controlling authority. We will stop this infringement."
> Some large organizations dependent on TeX were stunned by the announcment
> and had not yet formed plans for dealing with the change. At the American
> Mathematical Society, whose publications largely depend on TeX for
> typesetting, editor Barbara Beeton was incensed. "I can't believe Don
> [Professor Donald Knuth] sold us out like this. We should have never
> based a publishing enterprise of this scope on so-called public-domain
> software. What were we thinking?" Publication schedules for the rest of
> 1998 were on hold, and journal editors scrambled to reassure their authors
> that deadlines would not slip more than a few months.
> Certain small businesses are also expected to feel the impact of the Microsoft
> ownership of TeX. Palo Alto restaurant owner Wu Chen appeared unhappy at the
> news, stating that "for ten year I print new menu every day with TeX, now I
> will pay big time." He displayed a crumpled, grease-spotted take-out flyer,
> and with tears in his eyes explained how multiple columns, exotic typefaces,
> and daily price changes could all be printed by TeX in a multi-lingual format.
> "In Wordperfect this would be a long journey."
> Commercial vendors of TeX software stand to lose everything in the face of the
> new Microsoft monopoly. While most derivatives of TeX were freely published,
> several companies had made a business of publishing proprietary versions. One
> anonymous source from a leading TeX firm said that "publishing TeX was a gold
> mine while it lasted, and the Internet let us mine it deeper and deeper. Now
> this is a cave-in right on our heads. TeX was a monumental work of beauty
> and utility, freely given to the world by one of the finest and most generous
> minds of the 20th century. Now it belongs to a lucky dropout. We're finished."
> Date of Publication 04/01/98
> For further information see http://idt.net/~truetex
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