linux-l: Fuer alle TEX-Freunde

Siegfried Pohl spohl at
Do Apr 2 19:30:02 CEST 1998

On Wed, 1 Apr 1998, Sebastian Krueger wrote:

jaja, April April.... ;-)

>   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
> crown."
> 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
> driver.
> 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."

Siegfried Pohl                                                                               
spohl at                                            
Tel: +49 3381 718056                                                
Fax: +49 3381 718058                                                 
> Only wimps use tape backups; real men put their software on       < 
> ftp-servers and let the rest of the world mirror it.              < 
> (C) Linus Torvalds                                                < 

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