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Microsoft And Yale Conclude Agreement To License Technology For Haskell

Microsoft Demonstrates Haskell-Compatible Browser and Tools

NEW HAVEN - April 1, 1998 - At a press conference today Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) announced it has concluded an agreement to license the Haskell programming language and related technology for inclusion in Microsoft products. As part of this agreement Microsoft will develop and maintain the reference implementation of Haskell for Windows(R) platforms, such as the Windows(R)98 and Windows NT(R) operating system.

Also, Microsoft demonstrated a number of Haskell-compatible technologies collectively code-named "Curry." The technologies demonstrated included Haskell support in the Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 Web browser using a built-in, high performance just-in-time (JIT) compiler; an integrated development tool Haskell; and integration of the Haskell language with industry-standard component object model (COM) objects through Microsoft ActiveX(TM) Technologies for the Internet and PC. Microsoft further outlined its plans for Haskell support, indicating that future versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer for Windows and Apple(R) Macintosh(R) will include the ability to run Haskell applets distributed through the World Wide Web. The company also outlined plans to create a high-productivity development tool for Haskell, based on its award-winning Developer Studio technology.

Microsoft is currently being sued by Sun over trademark infringement issues relating to its licensing of Java technology from Sun. A U.S. District Court judge granted Sun Microsystems Inc.'s request for a preliminary injunction that prevents Microsoft from using Sun's Java Compatible(TM) logo to promote and distribute its Internet Explorer 4.0 and related products. In response, Microsoft has taken the unprecedented step of completely abandoning Java in favor of what they consider to be "a vastly superior programming language technology" in the words of Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

In a project that has been kept under wraps ever since the initial adoption of Java, a team of Microsoft researchers has prepared an alternative programming language for use in case of a serious dispute with Sun over the future of the Java language. After evaluating many programming languages, the team settled on Haskell as being the best alternative to Java. According to Chris Fraser, a Microsoft research scientist, "Haskell's polymorphic type system is far superior to the one developed for Java." Also, he asserts that "purely functional programs are the wave of the future: object oriented programming has reached a dead end." As other developers integrated Java into Microsoft products such as the Internet Explorer, this "shadow team" created secret versions of these same products using Haskell instead of Java. The team leader, Conal Elliott, asserts that due to the elegance and expressiveness of Haskell, his team was able to completely duplicate the work being done with Java using only a tenth of the manpower. As all tools needed to switch from Java to Haskell are already in place, Microsoft expects to completely purge its products of Java within a period of less than two months.

"Haskell technology will provide a great way for our developer customers to create innovative applications for the Web," said Dave Hanson, vice president of development tools at Microsoft. "We intend to be the premier supplier of Haskell-compatible tools to Internet developers."

"Microsoft's commitment to Haskell is both impressive and comprehensive, and this agreement makes them one of the leading Haskell supporters," said Paul Hudak, the former head of the Haskell committee. "Microsoft's licensing of Haskell broadens support of the technology significantly."

"Integrating the Haskell language with COM is something our customers and ISV partners think is extremely important," said Erik Meijer, the new senior vice president of Internet platforms and tools, at Microsoft. "It brings a whole new dimension to Haskell: a clear path for integration with existing applications, systems and technologies. It means that you don't have to start over to take advantage of Haskell."

Current Haskell developers reacted with both joy and concern at this announcement. Simon Peyton-Jones, a prominent Haskell implementor, said "I guess this means the end of our research efforts here. There is no way a small research group such as ours can compete with Microsoft." At Yale, Alastair Reid was more optimistic: "Now I can get out of this hellhole in New Haven and get a real job at Microsoft." In fact, many Haskell developers are expected to join a new Microsoft research group in Nottingham, England which will be headed by Mark Jones, a prominent Haskell researcher. Dr. Jones explained that "they wanted me to come to Redmond but I decided to remain here in Nottingham. When they decided to build a research center here for me I was thrilled!"

Additional information on Microsoft Corporation is available on the Internet at Additional information on Haskell is available on the Internet at

Microsoft Windows, Windows NT and ActiveX are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

This bogus press release made the rounds on April Fools Day, 1998. Not long after this was released, Simon Peyton Jones announced his move to Microsoft (an event that caught the author of this press release by complete suprise!).


This joke inspired copies from many other PL communities; here's a sample: