He said what? McNealy's war of words

Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy has launched enough wicked verbal attacks on Microsoft over the years to consider the nearly $2 billion settlement hush money.

Scott Ard Former Editor in Chief, CNET
CNET former Editor in Chief Scott Ard has been a journalist for more than 20 years and an early tech adopter for even longer. Those two passions led him to editing one of the first tech sections for a daily newspaper in the mid 1990s, and to joining CNET part-time in 1996 and full-time a few years later.
Scott Ard
2 min read
Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy has launched so many wicked verbal attacks on Microsoft over the years that Microsoft's nearly $2 billion settlement could be considered hush money. Here's a sampling of his jabs:

• "Probably the most dangerous and powerful industrialist of our age." (Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates)

• "Ballmer and Butt-Head." (Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Gates)

• "A giant hair ball." (Microsoft's Windows and Windows NT)

• "General and motors." (Microsoft and Intel)

• "Windows More Errors" (Windows ME)

• "Look Out" (Microsoft's Outlook)

• "The Corvair of Web servers, unsafe at any speed" (Internet Information Server)

• "Captive Directory" (Active Directory)

• ".Not," ".Not Yet" and ".Nut" (Microsoft's .Net development strategy)

• "The beast from Redmond" and "the evil empire." (Microsoft and its headquarters.)

• "You can take the offer from the dark side. The first hit of heroin is free." (On efforts to entice developers.)

• "With Microsoft, the first hit is always free--remember that all your life. They're going to all these different Web sites and having them become .Net Web sites. They say they're not going to make any money. For now, they'll not charge you for access to your Passport environment. Maybe soon they'll charge you $50. That's $50 that they're charging you for info that they stole from you."

• "Microsoft is now talking about the digital nervous system. I guess I would be nervous if my system was built on their technology, too."

• "The only thing I'd rather own than Windows is English, because then I could charge you $249 for the right to speak it, and I could charge you an upgrade fee when I add new letters."

• We should "shut down some of the bullshit the government is spending money on and use it to buy all the Microsoft stock. Then put all their intellectual property in the public domain. Free Windows for everyone! Then we could just bronze Gates, turn him into a statue and stick him in front of the Commerce Department."

"Listen, I have never turned down a meeting with Gates or Ballmer...On many occasions, I've challenged them to get on stage one-on-one and have a reasonable debate, but they've always refused. And that's because they don't even flirt with telling the truth anymore. And if I were protecting a monopoly like they are, I wouldn't do it, either. Because they know the real truth."

Of course, Ballmer has delivered a couple counterpunches:

• McNealy "is monomaniacal about us. He's two standard deviations away from reality in what he says."

• "Sun is just a very dumb company...Those sub-50 IQ people at Sun who believed we and Sun had this sort of wonderful dovetailing strategic interest are either uninformed, crazy or sleeping." (On criticism from Sun about how Microsoft was implementing an agreement to write Java-compatible programs.)

Compiled from CNET News.com archives, BusinessWeek and the books "Bad Boy Ballmer" and "High Noon."