Michael Surkan, Microsoft, and Linux


[2004-04-04] Oy. It blew up. This page has been quoted everywhere, from PC World to Yahoo News and beyond. Let's recap.


Strictly speaking, there is no new news. M. Surkan sent me a short "Thanks for your time" note and headed elsewhere. However, his little forays into Linux didn't go unnoticed. As a matter of fact, it really generated quite a bit of news...

News stories

  1. PC World quotes this page. It says that Surkan is from England when I had pegged him in Washington.
  2. Techworld takes an editoral stance, namely "WTF?". (They quote this page too.) It asks the question "What could MS stand to gain from these ham-handed interviews?" No one knows.
  3. Enterprise Linux I.T. quotes a researcher who reviews this method of interviewing. People get paid for this?
  4. There are literally dozens of news reports about this, if you just can't get enough. (Google search)


  1. MS issues a press release about this - the gist of it is that they're stating that Surkan is doing this all on his own.

LUGs/Everything else

Quite a few LUGs allowed him to post to the list, with varying results - most replies were the typical "It's about Freedom" and "Beat it", which warms my heart. More than a few people honestly tried to work up a reply.

About Michael Surkan

  1. I knew he sounded familiar - he was the author of the infamous I Come Not To Praise Linux... article. That one worked up quite a storm in it's day.
    1. It's listed with some of the legendary "Halloween Documents". This includes a rebuttal of some of the claims presented in the original.

Surkan and Linux

A few days ago, I received a letter from Michael Surkan of Microsoft. At first I suspected it to be spam, but a little bit of checking reveals that there really is a Mike Surkan working for Microsoft and that he has contacted other LUGs.

Here's the text of the message sent to me [I modified it to remove all email addresses]:
From xxxxxxx@windows.microsoft.com Fri Dec 19 01:42:11 2003
Delivered-To: xxx@willum.dreamhost.com
Received: from mail2.microsoft.com (mail2.microsoft.com [])
	by willum.dreamhost.com (Postfix) with ESMTP id 392E62BD4B
	for ; Thu, 18 Dec 2003 23:42:10 -0800 (PST)
Received: from INET-VRS-02.redmond.corp.microsoft.com ([]) by mail2.microsoft.com with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.1041);
	 Thu, 18 Dec 2003 23:42:07 -0800
Received: from by INET-VRS-02.redmond.corp.microsoft.com (InterScan E-Mail VirusWall NT); Thu, 18 Dec 2003 23:42:06 -0800
Received: from red-imc-01.redmond.corp.microsoft.com ([]) by inet-hub-01.redmond.corp.microsoft.com with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.0);
	 Thu, 18 Dec 2003 23:42:00 -0800
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	 Thu, 18 Dec 2003 23:41:40 -0800
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft Exchange V6.5.7122.0
Content-class: urn:content-classes:message
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/mixed;
Subject: posting to Linux mail list
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003 23:41:11 -0800
Thread-Topic: posting to Linux mail list
Thread-Index: AcPGA3klMW0YejQJRz6/xsvnIMroqw==
From: "Michael Surkan" 
To: , 
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 19 Dec 2003 07:41:40.0193 (UTC) FILETIME=[8A2D4510:01C3C603]
Status: RO
I am a program manager in the Microsoft networking group, doing some
research around how we can improve our operating systems. My goal is to
help us identify capabilities, improvements, and features that Microsoft
should be focusing on to help our customers over the next 5 years or so.
I am particularly interested in hearing from Linux users, and get their
input about what they feel should be priorities.
I was wondering if you would mind if I posted a message on your Linux
mailing list (xxxxxx@norlug.org) asking for feedback? I want to ask for
people to e-mail me directly if they would be interested in taking an
on-line survey I have put together (sorry, I don't want to post the
survey URL directly to the public).
If you don't feel this is an appropriate use of your list, that's fine.
Of course, I am always eager to hear your thoughts if you wanted to
share them. :-)
Michael Surkan
P.S. If it's ok for me to post to your distribution list, what is the
best way I should do that? Is there an e-mail address you recommend I

At least he was nice enough to ask.

I turned him down. There are a number of reasons why, but they mostly boil down to this: There is no incentive for us to give Microsoft our time and advice. They could never reciprocate. They're not interested in making the computing world better, they're only interested in making their next quarter revenues. That's fine, I'm not anti-business. But business is business and Freedom is Freedom; they want free beer and I want free speech. I have definite goals in using Linux and helping someone who's bosses (for example) fund SCO contradicts that.

With that in mind, I urge everyone not to help Surkan or any Microsoft middle manager who comes with hat in hand, looking for a free handout. You have better things to do with your time.

Me @ NORLUG.org
GPG key -- Wood Casemod -- Index -- Surkan, Microsoft, and Linux -- NORLUG Posters -- Vi Introduction (PDF) -- NORLUG Itself
Me @ gurno.com
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