One of the interesting things in baseball is that if you are the first pitcher to throw deliberately at an opposing batter, you will probably not get thrown out the game. This is even the case if it obvious that you threw at the batter because 1) the previous batter or two hit homeruns, and 2) you are a hothead. At most, you and the other side get a warning. Things start to get interesting in the next half inning if the pitcher of the team whose batter just got hit then hits a player on the other squad. Well, this then is going to far and that pitcher is usually tossed. That is, the person who started the bad behavior is left in the game and the person who was defending his team looks like the bad guy. In baseball, this makes sense because you cannot have a situation where it is permissible to have a free throw at somebody's head. It is a safety issue, though I still think both pitchers should get removed from the game.
I get the same feeling when I read articles like this in eWeek. Microsoft throws at the head of Linux and then when Novell responds it becomes a "spin war," effectively causing people to perhaps not take Novell's response as seriously as they should. In the meanwhile, Microsoft got the attention of the press and customers given its initial accusations, which Novell and other then have to effectively try to undo. It's much harder to do this, even when you are in the right, because you're not sure how many people saw and believed the initial pitch before the response.
I felt the same way last February when we sent the "open letter" to Sun about open sourcing Java. Aside from the pros and cons of open sourcing Java, several people, including some analysts were aghast that we should do an open letter. Evidently they missed Jonathan Schwartz' Free Advice for Sam Palmisano on IBM's Desktop Options, an open letter published a month before ours. I guess the moral is that first mover advantage is important here: throw the first pitch hard at your opponent and then watch them get into trouble when they do what you did! I'll be the first to admit that we did get the right industry attention on open sourcing Java via our letter, but I think we'll skip the open delivery system from now on.