MS sends in lawyers to stop 'open' SOAP info getting out

is this a rumor?

------------- Begin Forwarded Message ------------- reports.....

MS sends in lawyers to stop 'open' SOAP info getting out

A phone call from a Microsoft lawyer earlier this month provided some more
signposts as to how Microsoft intends to implement/embrace 'open' industry
standards. Jason Bishop, who'd been involved in development of SOAP in his
previous job as a contractor at Microsoft, was due to give a talk to the
Seattle area Java-XML SIG, but immediately prior to his presentation he took
the call, and was reminded that he was still covered by NDA.

In an email to SIG members after the meeting SIG chair Dennis Sosnoski said
that Bishop had to "severely edit his presentation at the last minute,"
following the lawyer's call, and expressed some bafflement: " I was puzzled
to hear about this, since I couldn't imagine (1) what he'd have been talking
about that would be proprietary or (2) why the most innovative legal staff
in the industry would be so concerned to make sure he didn't spill anything.
I was even more surprised when several Microsoft SOAP people, apparently
including a lawyer, then showed up at our meeting (none of them having any
interest whatsoever in Java, as far as I could tell). Jason was unable to
tell me anything, of course, but the amount of concern from M$ got my

According to Sosnoski, Bishop had been due to talk about changes to the SOAP
spec and the justifications for these; difficulties in developing a Remote
Object Proxy Engine (ROPE), which is a set of APIs intended to automate the
handling of SOAP communications; and to discuss the most recent SOAP spec
from IBM. "He cut most of this," Sosnoski told The Register, "presumably in
response to the lawyer interest, and instead covered the basics of using
SOAP in Java."

Bishop seems to have been wise to cut the presentation. Sosnoski says at
least three people from Microsoft attended the meeting. At least one worked
on SOAP, and one "declined to introduce himself when we went around the
room, and when I asked him specifically his interest he said he was 'just
along for the ride.'" Sounds like a lawyer, both to Sosnoski and The

Bishop says his presentation was a little disjointed. "I'd start talking
about something, and then I'd realise I was probably treading on dangerous
ground as I haven't seen IBM's xidl handling and I'd be outlining the MS
method almost exactly so I'd stop in mid sentence and have to change the
topic." But he hit on the tactic of staying quiet when SOAP came under fire,
until the Microsoft reps couldn't resist jumping in.

Aside from confirming the bare facts of the matter, Bishop isn't in much of
a position to say anything. But he did tell The Register that he still
thinks SOAP is a worthwhile idea, and suggested that maybe Microsoft
rattling lawyers at him was maybe a little on the draconian side.

Sosnoski has his own theories about the matter, and in the wake of
Microsoft's battle with Slashdot over the Kerberos spec, they're pretty
plausible. "My bet," he says, "is that SOAP is actually the core of NGWS
[Next Generation Windows Services]. This would make sense - SOAP is
basically Visual Basic calls wrapped in XML, and it's been well understood
at Microsoft for some time that to get Bill Gates behind a project it just
takes some connection with his crowning technical achievement (Basic, that

That last bit was entirely uncalled for, Dennis. But SOAP and XML will
certainly have a lot to do with NGWS, so Microsoft's heavy-handedness in
using lawyers to forcibly remind Bishop of his NDA is horribly significant.
As with Kerberos, Microsoft will conform to open industry standards, so long
as it can use its own IP to control/subvert them by stealth. Alternatively,
if anybody can think of an innocent reason why Microsoft doesn't want former
contractors to be open with a 30-strong meeting of a Seattle Java SIG,
please let us know... 

------------- End Forwarded Message -------------

Received on Monday, 22 May 2000 16:45:31 UTC