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Microsoft

States Demand Windows Source Code 808

Posted by timothy
from the just-refuse-secret-source-software dept.
Zeb writes: "Looks like the states who are continuing the anti-trust case don't believe MS' claim that they cannot provide a stripped down version of Windows. They want MS to release the source code so they can verify MS' claims . Maybe MS shot itself in the foot here?" The Register has a story as well.
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States Demand Windows Source Code

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  • by Marx_Mrvelous (532372) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:01PM (#3001141) Homepage
    I always wondered how useful the source code would be. At X million lines of code, plus the quality of comments and format might take an army of programmers a year to even figure out where to start.

    If they did get it, could they afford the time and expense of analyzing it?
    • by mblase (200735) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:04PM (#3001179)
      Better yet, I can imagine MS giving the states the source code to, say, Microsoft BOB or Windows 3.1, and waiting to see how long it takes them to figure out it's the wrong thing.
      • by real_b0fh (557599) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:12PM (#3001280)
        just ask *explicitly* for a buildable source tree.

        then build it, it would pre pretty simple to figure it out.
        • just ask *explicitly* for a buildable source tree. then build it, it would pre pretty simple to figure it out.

          There's buildable and there's legible. I can see MS complying with the letter of such an order by running the source code through obfuscate.pl and delivering *that*. Sure, the code is FUNCTIONALLY the same, but you waste State money trying to decypher the source code.

      • Compile it (Score:5, Interesting)

        by coyote-san (38515) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:32PM (#3001472)
        It would take a week or so, max.

        If the court orders this and selects competent experts, they aren't going to wait while MS prepares a very special set of media. They will send in Federal Marshals to take control of the MS servers containing all source code for anything that ends up on the Windows OEM disc and copy *everything* on them. MS won't regain access to its systems until the experts can build the Windows OEM disc on their own systems.

        If Microsoft claims it doesn't know where all of the source code is stored (yeah, right), that's not a problem. The Marshals can seize the entire Redmond campus just as easily as they can seize a few server rooms. They should be able to seize the computers and media from all offices within a week or so, then they can sort it out back in the lab. Microsoft can easily afford to replace all of those computers. (The contents are another matter, but they'll have to request copies from the Marshals.)

        Think this is unrealistic? Ask any victim of a BSA raid - and they've only been alleged of doing something wrong. Microsoft has had its day in court, been found guilty (and this verdict has been sustained on appeal), and is now being told to sustain its claims during the penalty phase.
        • Re:Compile it (Score:5, Informative)

          by foobar104 (206452) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @03:22PM (#3001937) Journal
          Oh, and me without any mod points.

          If the court orders this and selects competent experts, they aren't going to wait while MS prepares a very special set of media. They will send in Federal Marshals to take control of the MS servers containing all source code for anything that ends up on the Windows OEM disc and copy *everything* on them. MS won't regain access to its systems until the experts can build the Windows OEM disc on their own systems.

          You've been reading too many newsgroups. What you describe is seizure, and it's completely inappropriate in a civil matter. In order to get authorization to send in federal marshalls to seize property like that, a bench warrant must be issued. To get a bench warrant, the judge has to be convinced that there's evidence there that's relevant to a criminal investigation and that couldn't be gotten any other way.

          In other words, if a judge believed that Microsoft's computers had information on them about who mailed Anthrax to those senators last fall, and that judge believed that Microsoft had been given an opportunity to turn the evidence over and had refused or that the evidence was in danger of being tampered with or destroyed, then and only then would you see a bench warrant issued for the sort of seizure you describe.

          This is completely different from any action taken by the police in cooperation with the BSA. In those instances (like the Rotter raid last year), the police were convinced by the BSA that criminal activity was taking place, that the activity was very significant, and that any approach other than seizure would result in evidence being destroyed.
          • Re:Compile it (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Courageous (228506)
            What you describe is seizure, and it's completely inappropriate in a civil matter.

            I am confused. Clarify for me: Was Microsoft found guilty or liable in the Antitrust Case. I thought they were found guilty, and that it was indeed actually a criminal violation.

            C//
          • by coyote-san (38515) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @04:09PM (#3002304)
            This is the CRIMINAL anti-trust case, not the civil anti-trust case that MS tried to get dismissed by having the education market handed to it.

            This is action is also being taken during the penalty phase after conviction of criminal charges. That eliminates any legal presumption of innocence - the legal burden is now on the convicted party to prove innocence, not the state to prove guilt. (That's also why it's so hard to get convictions overturned even when new evidence is discovered.)

            As for the bench warrant, all it requires is that the judge believe that the most expedient way to resolve the matter is to seize those servers. I doubt there are many experts who would look at Microsoft's performance during the trial phase and not foresee months of stonewalling unless the experts had full access to all source from the first day - and that would require seizure. I would expect many experts would make this a condition of serving in this role, to avoid wasting their own time.
            • As for the bench warrant, all it requires is that the judge believe that the most expedient way to resolve the matter is to seize those servers.

              That's simply false. Judges can't go issuing warrants whenever they feel like it. There are legally and constituionally mandated guidelines that must be followed in order for the warrant to be legal.

              There's no question that the most expedient way to get anything is just to take it. That doesn't mean our justice system operates that way.
        • Re:Compile it (Score:4, Interesting)

          by surfcow (169572) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @04:14PM (#3002343) Homepage
          If Microsoft claims it doesn't know where all of the source code is stored (yeah, right), that's not a problem. The Marshals can seize the entire Redmond campus just as easily as they can seize a few server rooms. They should be able to seize the computers and media from all offices within a week or so, then they can sort it out back in the lab. Microsoft can easily afford to replace all of those computers. (The contents are another matter, but they'll have to request copies from the Marshals.)

          Gosh, I wish that were true. Seems like I recall that way back in dinosaur days, Netscape noticed that Navigator ran quite well under Win3.1, but very poorly under Win3.11. Hmm... maybe a little too poorly. So Netscape sued, eventually a federal judge ordered Microsoft to turn over the source to Win3.11. Microsoft then claimed that it had lost the source.

          No federal marshals were sent in to confiscate source code. The judge slapped Microsoft's hand and that was the end of it. This all took years and Netscape was dying by then anyway.

          I would love to believe that we could rely on the law to save the day, but I just can't.

          Compound this with the fact that Microsoft was a huge campaign contributor in 2000.

          =brian

    • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:04PM (#3001187) Homepage
      My concern is that it contains dark secrets and things Man Was Not Meant To Know. Gazing into its torturous non-Euclidian mazes, its unspeakable blasphemies, and its irrational depths, will drive the hapless reviewer to madness.

      Aiiiiie!

    • by Andrewkov (140579) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:11PM (#3001259)
      Probably the most startling revelation would be that the entire OS is written in Visual Basic!
    • It doesn't mattery how many billions of lines of code are in there: hopefully, they are organized into directories and files. For example, I hope the IE code is seperate from the PCMCIA driver code.

      Its easy to find what you want in the Linux source code and I'm sure Windows would be just as organized (they do have to maintain it.)

      Any teenager surely can hack windows code by searching around, cutting and pasting a few features here and there to get what they want.
      • For example, I hope the IE code is seperate from the PCMCIA driver code.
        I'll admit I haven't been paying very close attention, but isn't this what started this whole mess?

        Seriously, Microsoft's claim is that IE is so tightly integrated into the OS that it could never be removed - even if they do have it separated out nicely into modules internally, I'd be surprised if the copy of the source they release to the court doesn't have everything arranged to best support their argument.

        I'd love to see a copy of the randomly rescrambled files, though... "Kernel32AndClippyToo.h", anyone?

        --
        Damn the Emperor!
    • At Java One in 1999, Scott McNealy estimated the NT codebase at 16 million lines, IIRC. Solaris was slightly less than half that.

      Of course, there's no reason to be believe that (A) I remember that right, or (B) McNealy didn't just pull that out of his ass.
    • or for that matter, what's to stop MS from stripping out all of the comments, *forgetting* to provide the source to some dll's, removing any formatting (proper spacing and such) that make for easy readability, and anything else they can do to drag this thing out longer?

    • > If they did get it, could they afford the time and expense of analyzing it?

      Maybe they didn't think of that, or maybe they don't really want the code, and just suggested it as a plausible position to be bargained down from.

    • by JohnDenver (246743) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @03:05PM (#3001804) Homepage
      First, My System32 directory ALONE consists of 1097 files totalling 166 MB at an average of 158KB each.

      Most of these DLLs are special components that are EXTRAs to memory management, user interface, graphics, file systems, IO and Network Interface.

      MOST of these DLLs are extra components like the following:

      * Message Queuing
      * Broadcast Architecture
      * 4 Media Services SDKs (Software Development Kits)
      * Image Color Management
      * NetShow
      * Group Policy
      * Management Console
      * MS Exchange (Client Components)
      * MAPI - Mail Interface
      * CDO - Collaboration Data Objects (Another Mail Interface plus more)
      * NetMeeting
      * Active Directory Services
      * Fax Services
      * Internet Authenication Services
      * Internet Protocol Helper
      * Network Management
      * Network Monitoring
      * QOS - Quality of Service Extentions
      * RPC - Remote Procedure Calls
      * Syncronization Manager
      * TAPI - Telephony Applications
      * Crytography
      * Smart Card interface
      * Policy Management
      * Scripting Engine for JScript + VBScript
      * Microsoft Agent API
      * Countless Webserver APIs and Services

      ...and the LIST will go ON AND ON AND ON...

      To be honest, you don't have to look through most of the source code to know MS CAN provide a stripped down version of an operating system.

      Unfortuntately, it won't run a lot of software because most applications are beginning to take advantage of the specialized SDK's like I've listed above.

      As much as I would love to have MS give up thier source code, you honestly don't need it to know you can distribute a stripped down operating system.

      The operating system WILL work. Just don't be surprised when most applications don't install correctly when it notices you don't have the DLL for database transactions.

  • don't believe MS' claim that they cannot provide a stripped down version of Windows

    Sure they can.. its called Windows 95... or better yet MS-DOS %-)

    .
  • Time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0123456789 (467085) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:01PM (#3001154)
    As if this trial hasn't taken long enough... How long will it take the States' technical representatives to read and understand the source code? And how long would it then take for them to explain the relevant parts to the lawyers in words of one syllable....
  • Experts (Score:2, Redundant)

    by joshsnow (551754)
    Gaining access to the code is all very well, but unless it's fully documented and the people who read it know what they're looking for, this could take a very long time to prove anything either way. However, what other way of doing this is there?
    • Re:Experts (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TheMatt (541854)
      I agree. The expert witness testimony would be horrific. Not only could each side get experts to prove their side, there is also the point of what they're trying to prove.

      MS could say that the states' experts, if they did construct a stripped-down version, in stripping it down are removing the functionality that make the program Windows. For example, remove the CD writing from XP and is what you have XP anymore? That is one of the things MS touted since not everyone wants to pony up for Nero's or Roxio's power packages.

      If the states win this challenge, things could get messy fast...and I think I'd like to watch the fun!
    • Re:Experts (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Derkec (463377)
      There's another way. It just requires finding former Microsoft employees who worked on Windows development very recently and getting them to testify about the structure and workings of the code. You don't need the code, you need people who understand it. These people are probably under contractual obligation not to do this so what the states should be going for is for these employees to be released from that contract and brought to court to testify. If these developers could have code handy to bolster their arguements, swell but it isn't really needed. What is needed are experts in the guts of Windows, not the source itself.
  • by Carmody (128723) <slashdot AT dougshaw DOT com> on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:02PM (#3001159) Homepage Journal
    Assume that Microsoft released a copy of their source code to some state attorney general. (Never happen, but assume it did) How are a bunch of people going to look at the brazillion lines of code, and testify either way? If Microsoft released a copy, they wouldn't be releasing internal documentation.

    I don't know what the states hope to accomplish.
  • by InfinityWpi (175421) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:02PM (#3001166)
    Having had to read -one- person's code and make sense of it, can I ask where in the world the judge is going to find people who can read the source code -and- make sense of it -and- determine if the arguements have merit? And, of course, have it happen inside of a year? Any sufficiently learned group of programmers will probably be either too expensive to hire for the job or bicker amongst themselves... you have to admit, most programmers are either biased for or against MS in the first place. All it takes is one arguement and poof...

    "I'm sorry, your honor, but the witnesses are deadlocked..."
    • Actually, were I a programmer asked to look at this stuff, I'd refuse; I'd be worried about Microsoft trying to sue me down the line for having seen their source code then written something. Kinda like why the Samba team refuses to look at any code Microsoft related.
  • by Lysander Luddite (64349) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:04PM (#3001182)
    Wouldn't this cause the trial penalties to be further delayed? I mean delaying plays into MS hands as it gains further marketshare. How long would it possibly take to have an indepedent team verify MS's claims it cannot offer a stripped down Windows?
  • by oogoody (302342) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:04PM (#3001185)
    ...stripped of comments, white space stripped,
    merged all into one file, variable names mapped
    to numbers, etc...
  • well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by angramainyu (139131) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:06PM (#3001201)
    ...I think it's safe to predict the winner of this year's obfuscated C contest.
  • Wow! If windows releases it source i dont doubt that it will get leaked to the public... imagine that, windows could be in some serious trouble! if the programming public has been able to support linux for all these years, why wouldnt they be able to do the same with windows? imagine how cool that would be if there was 2 versions of windows... windows xp(or whatever) and open-windows (sounds cool too)... this has potential to be a very interesting situation... ms could lose a lot of money if this happens
    • by Drakin (415182)
      No, microsoft would got a lot of money, due to the fact that the source code to windows is owned by them. Someone takes their code and makesa produt, that someone will have a court date.
    • Just because I have the source, doesn't mean I can use it. Many of us could run away from work today with the source code to some product that we're working on. That wouldn't allow us to open source it or build a competing product based on that code.
  • by zulux (112259) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:07PM (#3001214) Homepage Journal

    Clippy:"It looks like your Searchig and Replacing!"

    Drone421:(Absently talking to Clippy)"Yep, I good go through each one of these .h and .c files and get the BSD copytight out of them - the states wann'a see the source"

    Clippy:"Please type your question"

    Drone421:"hmmmmmm..." How to I do a global search and replace?

    Clippy:"Please choose your Encarta (TM) topic: Harlem Globetrotters, Search and Rescue, or UNIX"

    Drone421:"Hmmmm... I think on second thought, I'll ask the Hotmail people how they got rid of all the BSD copyright stuff in their code"
    • Drone421:(Absently talking to Clippy)"Yep, I good go through each one of these .h and .c files and get the BSD copytight out of them - the states wann'a see the source"

      Why would they bother? The BSD license is entirely free, unlike the GPL.

      But I doubt there's much BSD licensed code inside Windows anyway... if there were I'd expect Windows to be rather more stable and well designed.
  • by alman (86957)
    I'm just wondering out loud here.
    In the past, it has been argued that even MS doesn't fully understand the code to Windows, so how will somebody who is just starting to look at this determine what is happening?
  • by markj02 (544487) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:08PM (#3001230)
    Windows isn't one big program, it's lots of DLLs, drivers, kernel modules, and executables developed all over Microsoft. There probably doesn't even exist a single Windows source tree.

    Even if it did exist, what would programmers say other than "yes, with enough hacking, we can separate this out"? I mean, with enough hacking, you can get OS/2 to emulate Windows, or Linux. And if Windows cannot be split up, it only means that it is not well-modularized (but you guessed that already).

    Most of these problems come from the peculiar notion in the US legal system that a company must have done something wrong in order to be subject to monopoly restrictions. The simple fact is that dominance of the operating system market by any system, be it Windows, Linux, or whatever, is not good. We need a diversity of operating systems, and that's what remedies should be aimed at. Leave Microsoft's source code alone.

    • Even if it did exist, what would programmers say other than "yes, with enough hacking, we can separate this out"?

      Yeah, but.....

      Didn't the 98lite team [98lite.net] succeed in seperating IE from Windows with IEradicator [98lite.net]?

      Here's what they say:
      The removal process is elegant with all COM servers politely being asked to de-register themselves from the system registry using their inbuilt deinstallation routines before being eliminated from the hard disk. IEradicator then pulls out the cleaning gear and gives the registry a good polish before returning control back to you. The MS HTML Engine (shdocvw.dll and mshtml.dll) is left on the machine to provide needed functionality for other applications that render HMTL (e.g. Outlook Express) or that launch a mini-browsing window (e.g. Winamp's Mini Browser, Netmeeting's Online Directory).

      IEradicator gives you a leaner, faster desktop by eliminating all desktop web-integration including active desktop, single click, image previews, file/folder information, and custom backgrounds.


    • Being modular is part of the problem. The entire help system, the file system explorer, large parts of applications and so on are all reliant upon the HTML rendering engine of Internet Explorer.

      Honestly, Microsoft should just remove iexplore.exe from the system and say "There we've removed IE." and leave it at that. Instead they are arguing semantics with people who are technically incompetent.

      I also don't see an argument for why we need a diversity of operating systems. Or rather, why you feel we don't already today have a diversity of operating systems. Linux is available, so is various forms of MacOS, BSD and so on. Fact is there is probably a wider variety of operating systems available today than at any other time in the history of personal computing.

      The fact that not all of these operating systems are on equal footing in terms of hardware and software support is a result of effeciences of scale. The scale argument is the reason against diverse operating environments.(I include the hardware in along with the OS)
    • by slashdot.org (321932) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @04:37PM (#3002569) Homepage Journal
      There probably doesn't even exist a single Windows source tree.

      Yes there is. I've worked on it briefly and at the time it was roughly 680MB. This included tons of custom utils and custom versions of assemblers and compilers. (So much for a Chinese wall).

      There's nothing magic about M$ code. I've seen better code, but I've also seen worse. It's not terribly difficult to understand the overall structure though.

      Even if it did exist, what would programmers say other than "yes, with enough hacking, we can separate this out"? I mean, with enough hacking, you can get OS/2 to emulate Windows, or Linux. And if Windows cannot be split up, it only means that it is not well-modularized (but you guessed that already).

      The point is to seperate out a piece that used to be seperate in the first place. (e.g. the browser). All this stuff happens at the shell level and only requires a small part of the source tree. I think it would take very little effort to prove that it can be done (easily).

      We need a diversity of operating systems, and that's what remedies should be aimed at. Leave Microsoft's source code alone.

      The only way to achieve that is when there is such a thing as fair competition. There's nothing wrong with being a monopoly,- the abuse of power to make competition almost impossible is.

      This brings up an other subject that I happened upon whilst looking at the Windows source, and something that may help unravel the infamous AARD code [ddj.com].

      If I can make a suggestion: request the entire source tree for Windows 3.1. In the himem.sys source subtree there is a file called sipsim.obj. It's a small file and it contains 1(one) function: ISMSDOS. This function is the AARD code. Even within M$ this file was not distributed as source.

      The fact that the function is called ISMSDOS is pretty clear indication that Schulman was right in what he suspected: an attempt to make the code not run on anything but MS-DOS.

      If they "can't find" the code, I may be able to assist. ;o)
  • I can't wait... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jguevin (453329)
    How long do you think before we can download a leaked copy on Morpheus?
  • by eric_aka_scooter (556513) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:10PM (#3001251) Homepage
    They don't want anyone to see the source code because no one must ever know that Windows XP is written in Visual Basic...
  • by Bonker (243350) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:10PM (#3001253)
    States: We'd really like to know what this following section of code does.

    Balmer: Code? What Code?

    States: The line of code that says

    while 1 {
    gosub microsoft.world.domination();
    }
  • points addressed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya ... m minus math_god> on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:11PM (#3001260) Homepage Journal
    I would like to address two points that will come up.
    1)A good software engineer will know how to approach this kind of project, and will know how to start.
    2)its ease will determine on MS's standards and adherence policy.
    3)If they can get the source code(I doubt it, but I hope so), I'm sure they can get documentation.

    And no, I can't imagine a beo...you know the rest.
  • 'cuz pigs are about to fly.
  • by UsonianAutomatic (236235) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:12PM (#3001274) Homepage
    Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said the company had proved during the trial that it is impossible to remove software features from Windows without damaging the operating system.

    I got rid of Internet Explorer [98lite.net] a few months ago, and my system is just fine.

    I wonder if their proof involved deleting C:\winnt\system32\kernel32.dll.
    • The MS HTML Engine (shdocvw.dll and mshtml.dll) is left on the machine to provide needed functionality for other applications that render HMTL (e.g. Outlook Express) or that launch a mini-browsing window (e.g. Winamp's Mini Browser, Netmeeting's Online Directory).
      Yup, cleans IE right out of there, doesn't it? Just removes it completely from the machine. Oh, wait. Except for the parts that would DAMANGE THE OPERATING SYSTEM.
      • I removed emacs and all libraries it used and suddenly my entire system stopped working. After some testing, I discovered that if I left the libc library around, removing of the remainder of emacs did not cause the entire system to become unusable.

        Libraries used by an application are not the application. This is the root of the debate. Microsoft has defined IE to include libraries used by other programs, and other people have a more limited definition.

        I could define IE to include the entire Windows operating system as part of it. I do not consider that a valid definition, as there are very few computers with Windows installed for the express single purpose of using IE. As soon as the HTML engine was being used by other applications than IE, it was no longer part of the IE application.
  • but WHY? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SuperDuG (134989)
    I mean has anyone here ever ran windows? ... and you want to see the sourcecode ... I mean seriously the sourcecode has to be a BFM (big freekin mess).

    Besides wouldn't the code analyzers be smacked with the same NDA's that colleges who got ahold of NT's source code were. Something like you can't develope an OS or develope system maintence software for windows for 5 years.

    If I was a code developer that had the ability to understand operating systems (like windows) ... which I'm not ... would I really want to take the burden of examining this code?

    And a stripped down version of windows impossible? Funny windows 1 - 95b managed to work just fine WITHOUT internet explorer. And NT was just fine until 4.0 came out. I mean what functionality does IE really bring to the Operating System. Not to mention XP, there's that stupid CD burning software, dvd player, windows media player, internet explorer, and funky skins. If you take that away from XP ... then you'll have Win2K :-).

    IE integration is not neccessary to the OS itself. But I think that people really need to face the facts. If you don't like something ... do something about it. I'm not talking about suing ... I'm talking about not using it.

    Let's get as many as I can remember here. BSD's, Linuxes, QNX, Be, AtheOS, Unicies (some are free now). And there are even non-free alternatives, MacOS, Solaris, Tru64, etc. If you don't like windows, stop complaining about how "virus prone", "crashy", and "crappy" it is, STOP USING IT.

    Get yerself a CD-Burner and a high-speed connection and do yourself a favor, upgrade. And if you don't have the previous mentioned then find someone who does, it would take you probably all of 30 minutes to find one of your chaps that has the neccessary tools. Or get out of the house and off the phone with your lawyer, and go see your local UG (user group), perl mongers, BSD Users Groups, Linux UG's, Amiga Users, etc.

    There are lots of resources out there, but you have to actually go find them. I don't think that you'll ever get a phone call "Hi this is Bill Gates, what can I do to make windows better for you?" , but if you do ... simply reply "Can you have an option to install Debian in the setup menu?"

    Don't get me wrong, I dis-like MS, but what have they done wrong except make a complex math tool a cool toy that is useful? I don't see anyone suing MacOS for only running on powerpcs ... BeOS tried to get their foot in the door and linux runs on mac hardware. Is not an apple a monopoly in the mac world? Ohhh but wait, that's okay ...

    "It said windows 98 or better, so I installed linux"

  • What??!? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by big_groo (237634) <groovis&gmail,com> on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:15PM (#3001308) Homepage
    From TheRegister:

    "The States also asked the judge to appoint a technical expert to provide "impartial opinions on the complex, technical issues" of the case. If she grants source access, we fear one of these may not be enough."

    Just how, *how* are you going to find a geek that is impartial?
  • by Mhrmnhrm (263196) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:16PM (#3001316)
    Not going to rehash all the "It'll take years to understand..." comments, that's obvious enough. So what does all this mean? Insert IANAL disclaimer.

    Source released openly: What the states are asking for. This really won't get them anywhere. MS has been declared a monopolist, and going back like this is akin to going back to the murder scene for more evidence after the killer's been convicted. It doesn't do them any good other than to cause MS nightmares about their IP being compromised. Needless to say, MS hates this idea. Expect to see a scathing rebuttal within a couple of days. (Historical note: This is what one prosecutor did in the DeCSS case... put the code in as open/unsealed evidence, making it part of the public record. oops!) OSS advocates would love this idea, but without the compilation capabilities, it doesn't do Joe Sixpack any good unless MS accepts patches submitted by the public and makes them available for download.

    Source released under seal: Same as an open release, but the source code doesn't get published, and only those people approved by the court get to see it. Takes even more time, more money, and accomplishes just as little. Only here, MS doesn't have to lose sleep over IP loss, just take care of a nasty migraine. Joe Sixpack gains nothing.

    No release: Obvious victory for MS, but the case moves on faster than it would have otherwise, which (as we all know) MS does't want. Joe Sixpack doesn't get anything here, either.
    • What if they use the fact that thier code has gone puiblic to sue the developers of WINE and the like for copyright infringement? Right now, they haven't been sued because they have a 'cleanroom' implementation which requires not looking at source. With the source to windows publicly available, WINE developers will have a hard time arguing that thery didn't touch any of the Windows.
  • During the trial, the government accused Microsoft of using its Windows monopoly to snuff out competitors who make add-on "middleware" products, such as AOL Time Warner's Netscape Navigator browser.

    Since when is a web browser considered middleware? This reporter must have been watching too many IBM commercials and wanted to use the new words he learned.
  • It's loads of fun to sit and think what terrible code microsoft must write, but you've got to be realistic. They are the largest software producer in the world. They hire smart programmers (bad designers, yes, but it's not like they have a bunch of skript kidz churning out SQL Server.) They have managers to make sure that the code is written properly. I'm not endorsing the end product or anything, but the code has got to look pretty good.

    Now mod me down.
  • Quitcherbitchin (Score:5, Informative)

    by AnalogBoy (51094) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:17PM (#3001340) Journal
    Microsoft Research Source Code [microsoft.com]

    So...
    Quit.. Yer... BITCHIN.. If you REALLY want to look at/dis MS source code, perhaps you should just go to school. About 2 years into it perhaps you'll realize you're taking life a BIT too seriously.

    From the page:
    Microsoft® makes source code to Microsoft operating system products like Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows CE available to universities and other "not-for-profit" research institutions at no charge. Currently, there are over 100 universities worldwide with our source licenses.

  • If the states want to use the source to prove that windows can be broken into multiple versions, and it can be done, why would you want a different distribution of windows? I mean both the good and bad thing about Windows is that it is so dependent on itself to run. Without the whole enchilada that is windows, it would lose a lot of value. (Imagine not being able to run old DOS programs in windows NT/2k/xp)
    It's one problem that linux has today, since there are so many different distributions that are subtley different, sometimes you have massive problems getting programs to work correctly. It's much better then it was in the past, but Windows doesn't seem to have this problem as often as linux ( IMO ).
    I see this as a possiable way for say people in the WINE project to get access to the 'hidden' features of the windows API that everyone keeps on saying exist.
  • It is possible to remove Internet Explorer completely from most windows operating systems. Take a look at IEradicator. I have used 98lite with very good success in installing a stripped down version of windows 98 on my mother's old computer.

    Here is a quote from their website about IEradicator: "IEradicator is tiny, script that uses the Windows setup engine to surgically remove Internet Explorer versions 3 through 6.0 from Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows Millennium and Windows 2000(sr1)."
    You can download it from the company's website [98lite.net] for free. It used to remove the entire HTML rendering engine but their current version leaves this in. If you want, you can buy the full version which will remove that too, effectively completely removing internet explorer from windows.

    Adam
  • Microsoft has made a number of assertions during the original trial and is sure to attempt to make a bunch of other assertions now.

    All the States have to do (yeah, merely) is to look at one or two of the assertions and attempt to disprove them with the source code. At that point they can call the credibility of a particular witness into doubt and impeach their entire testimony.

    Remember, the biggest complaint most of us have had is that MS has been making unsubstantiated claims about the technical merits and difficulties of certain actions. This way the States could go out and prove they're unsubstantiated.
  • by mhesseltine (541806) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:22PM (#3001381) Homepage Journal
    Doesn't the existance of programs like 98lite prove that Windows can run without IE. Yes the mshtml.dll engine is left in there for programs that want to use it, but the browser itself can be purged. Why isn't this proof enough?
  • Hire old MS coders (Score:3, Interesting)

    by asv108 (141455) <alex@phatauTWAINdio.org minus author> on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:23PM (#3001388) Homepage Journal
    Could the states higher experts, possibly former MS employees to guide them through the code or would that be seen as a conflict of interest since the technical experts in question are former employees? There has to be a lot of people who have worked with the windows source code over the years.
  • by mrroot (543673) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:24PM (#3001400)
    ...that Windows XP was really developed in Fortran
  • by d3xt3r (527989) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:24PM (#3001403)

    It should be obvious to everyone that trully removing IE from windows would break it!

    The problem with referring to Microsoft's operating system as simply "Windows" means that we mesh together the kernel and the user interface into one generic term. Would removing IE break the kernel? Of course not. UI code such as browsers does not live in the kernel. But would it break the Windows user interface? Yes.

    IE is tightly integrated into the UI. Click "My Computer", "My Documens", or open the File "Explorer" and what pops up? Why it's IE! Not, chance that url at the top that say "My Computer" to http://slashdot.org and now you're browsing Slashdot with Internet Explorer.

    It would be impossible to remove IE without breaking the user interface. And why should they remove it? It's their user interface. The same thing holds true in the KDE world. You browse your home directory guess what you're using? Konqueror! The same web browser that comes packaged with the desktop. Similar? I think so.

    The point is, I hate MS probably more than most people, but should we care that IE is tightly integrated? I think it's to the user's benefit that it is. Now whether or not Microsoft should allow the user to entirely disable IE's internet exploring abilities is another question. If I make Mozilla my default browser and I click on a link in my email, Windows will open up Mozilla. However, if I type a link into "My Computer" explorer, it just opens the link in that window (ala IE). Maybe the behavior should be to pop open Mozilla?

    Anyway, like them or not, Microsoft destructive monopoly. But should packaging a tightly integrated web browser with the user interface illegal? I think not.

  • by cr0sh (43134) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:38PM (#3001533) Homepage
    We return back to this same issue - the tying of the browser to the OS. However, it seems like the real question is never asked, and an answer is never forthcoming...

    Even if it is proven that the browser could be separate, that does nothing to bring Netscape, the company (rather than the AOL subsidiary or whatever they are now), back. It does not help any stock valuing, it doesn't help investors - Netscape - the company - is dead.

    Yet we don't hear from the states - the last hope (maybe) to get this settled honestly and justly - that Microsoft has been found to be guilty of using its monopoly powers illegally, to force another company out of business. They VIOLATED ANTI-TRUST MEASURES! It wouldn't have mattered if the browser was part of the OS, if it was separate and installed with it, or if it was given away free on a CD in every box of Cherrios on the store shelves. The fact that they dropped the price to zero and gave it away, plus using thier advantage in the OS market to sway people into using it (by either installing it with the OS or tying it in someway), in order to undermine a competitor in an "unrelated" software product (Netscape and the browser business) at the time - this is illegal under the Anti-Trust laws.

    This lawsuit is not about today - it is about what happened so many years ago. Today, it seems pretty obvious that a browsable UI and OS seem like a good solution (or at least "a" solution). Back then, though, they were nearly two separate pieces of software. But today, the states seem to be treating this lawsuit as if it were about the present situation in software - when that isn't the case, nor should it be.

    I want Microsoft to be punished for its actions against Netscape and against the consumer - for these actions removed a choice from the consumer - a choice to spend or not spend their money (ie, buy Netscape for $$$), as well as causing what may have been the premature "death" of a company (of course, this is only one aspect of the entire lawsuit - the whole thing with licensing restrictions on OEMs to prevent them from selling or installing onto systems other OSs, etc - locking in a OS monopoly on hardware OEMs - more anti-trust issues)...

    I want an full answer on that - why aren't we (as citizens and consumers) getting that answer?
  • by guttentag (313541) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @02:44PM (#3001610) Journal
    MS Attorney: Your Honor, my client agrees to turn over the Windows source code when it is finished.
    Judge: And when will that be?
    NY Attorney General (whispering): When no one has any money left with which to buy Windows.
    MS Attorney: Well, it's hard to say...
    Judge: You will deliver the source code in its present state to this court no later than two months from today.
    MS Attorney: Your Honor, my client respectfully requests that Windows be treated as an intelligent life form and therefore allowed to plead the fifth.
  • Red Herring (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dpilot (134227) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @03:08PM (#3001820) Homepage Journal
    We don't want or need the MS source code. As a matter of fact, we're better off without it, because anyone who looks at it becomes questionable as a programmer, because of 'copyright contamination.'

    We need file formats, wire formats, protocols. If Microsoft doesn't have clear, concise documentation, if Microsoft considers 'the source IS the documentation' for this stuff, then *THAT* is part of the problem with computing today.
  • by IDIIAMOTS (553790) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @03:09PM (#3001829)
    "Among the illegal tactics cited by the court was the "commingling" of Windows source code with add-on middleware.

    I fail to see how stripping out add-on middleware from Windows will benefit the consumer in the end.

    Currently the home OS ships for $100 and comes with a good browser, decent/basic archiver, basic CD burner and a bunch of other utilities that are "good enough" for 90% of the users. Is this unfair to other vendors that make more robust version of these utilities commercially? Perhaps...

    However, consider the impact on the consumer if these add-ons were removed from the OS? Now, on top of the OS license cost, the user must purchase a CD burner ($50), a browser($30), an archiver($30 for Winzip), an FTP client($40 CuteFTP c4.2), etc etc etc.

    Suddenly the TCO of the system is going up at a prohibitive rate. Software isn't cheap, if you actually bother to license everything you use at home. Do we expect users, who don't bother now to research alternative options to Windows software, to make rational, cost-effective decisions about purchasing add-ons for their OS? Or do we expect middleware vendors to drop their prices once the competition ball is in their court? I don't see how the consumer's wallet will benefit from all this litigation in the end.
    • by barawn (25691) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @04:44PM (#3002625) Homepage
      The problem with this argument should be fairly obvious, though.

      The main problem is the fact that they're not providing you with a browser: they're providing you with a browser that's impossible to remove. And people who claim that "well, it's nice to be able to enter stuff in the go window" are missing the point - There's NO reason that MS couldn't have made the OS able to accept a browser of any type as a file manager, provided it met some specifications (see GNOME's WM spec). Or use a different HTML renderer. But, no, they were scared of Netscape, and so they bundled IE in with Windows.

      Think I'm crazy? What about this - what if Windows didn't allow you to change the default "Open" program for filetypes? How is this any different than what's going on now? The point is NOT that MS bundled these programs - look at Linux, for instance. If RedHat started bundling commercial programs with Linux, great - but the OS allows you to remove them.

      So, I'm not saying "strip out the middleware". What I'm saying is "strip out the integration of the middleware into the OS" or "make the middleware removable". If MSN was set up in Windows to be the ONLY ISP, and any other ISP didn't have nearly the flexibility that MSN had under Windows (for no good reason other than Microsoft won't tell anyone what the APIs that MSN uses are), would that be fair? What the states and everyone else is saying is add everything you want, but DON'T BREAK THE LAW. MS has a monopoly. If you have a monopoly, you can't go around acting as if you don't - you have to act differently. Basically, you have to be very "nice" with your monopoly - not use it to bully around people or increase your business.

      That's kindof what the antitrust laws are for. They acknowledge that monopolies sometimes occur, but that when they do, the company needs to somehow maintain the air of a competitive environment.
  • Other News (Score:3, Funny)

    by 4of12 (97621) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @04:11PM (#3002324) Homepage Journal

    February 15, Redmond, Washington (AP) -- "Microsoft officials, who were initially outraged over the rebel states' request for source code access adopted an abruptly accommodating stance late yesterday."

    "It seems that Bill Gates had started an internal initiative to find the best way to obfuscate the Windows source code in the event the states' request were to receive a successful ruling."

    "Almost immediately, some of the top programmers from Microsoft, some of whom had spent years working on the Windows product, declared that native source itself already represented a sufficiently obtuse format and that not further obfuscation could better fulfill Bill's objectives."

    "Let them have it!" declared one programmer gleefully and without hesitation."

  • by CDWert (450988) on Wednesday February 13, 2002 @06:21PM (#3003401) Homepage
    If you know what you are doing, you can run W2K server WITOUT IE, You need to make a special OEM cd using their toolkit, and you can even do other fun things like put InetPub AND IIS on a sperate partition, under users that have no access to the rest of the partiotions , hence the OS. NSA has some good info on the latter.

    The courts are compltley ignorant on this matter, so are their 'expets' for the most part. Windwows will run fine without IE, at least, 95, NT 4.0 and W2K , SP is 2k on steroids with eye candy, The OEM install kit(XP) has a network ready bootable CD image that wii RUN ANY(IE included, Abobe, you name it), Windows app under it you want this should be PROOF alone. It starts as only a background and a shell window, you can run anything else from it you want executing it from the command line, Beauty is it will handle Win32 AND NTFS partitions, makes a wicked hack tool for a dead or funked machine, or to change the SAM around :)

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