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Windows Source Code Proposal Confirmed 290

ChipX86 writes: "We've all heard the rumors about Microsoft proposing to open source Windows. Now it appears to be confirmed. This article on MSNBC says that Microsoft would '... provide open, timely and complete access to the parts of the Windows operating system code used by independent software companies to design their software applications to run on Windows.'" From the sound of it, this seems like more of a delay tactic than a straight proposal, but interesting nonetheless. (How open is "open," by the way? What about "Timely"?)
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Windows Source Code Proposal Confirmed

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hey maybe if they really let us see their code then us aspiring programmers can use that, along with their documentation, instead of this book that has become the staple of undergraduate computer science studies:

    Writing Solid Code : Microsoft's Techniques for Developing Bug-Free C Programs, Code Ser. []
  • "To publish API information that would give a competitor an advantage would be over their dead body."

    Whatever it takes. :)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Microsoft is not doing anything that we have not seen before. It is another open source license with restrictions, which I hope the new generation of Linuxers are vehemenly opposed.

    I think far more important that "opening the source" is if Microsoft were to refrain from their embrace-then-add approach to Internet standards, and silly patents.

    By the way, just bought a new notebook today. Time to re-read the old slashdot thread about how the Australian guy got Compaq to refund his Microsoft tax.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Bullshit. If they didn't work they wouldn't be illegal in the US. Of COURSE it is a good business model to have CISCO-Sized-Corp fund you under the table while you sell Wholly-Incompatible-Product at 20% of production cost, in order to run all your competitors out of business and raise the price of entry to outrageous costs in one swoop, after which you grab the monopoly reap the rewards for years (with little worry of government intervention). The only reason a keiretsu ever fails is because it's not the only keiretsu.
  • Microsoft Corp. is drafting a counterproposal to the government's breakup plan that involves limits on its business practices, such as giving computer makers more flexibility to alter Windows software and offering versions of Windows without access to the company's Internet browser ...

    To me it sounds like there are just planning on giving the general public access to some of their API for the windows operating system, that developers mainly had access to.

    If they were to truly "open source" parts of their code for windows like they seem to be hinting at, do you really think they are going to accept changes by third party programmers and hobbyists?

    It almost sounds like the government declassifying worthless documents on sensitive issues, they say they've released some good stuff to get the public off their backs, and it's mainly just worthless junk.

    I guess time will soon tell ...
  • If Win9X is open sourced, there will be much more people looking for a way to bring down the "OS" then people looking to patch the problems. You'd have to wait six months or more before it'd be safe enough to put your Win9X box online again.

    You're implying it's safe now... :) The only way to make Win9x halfway safe on a network is to install black ice defender or something similar.


  • by pb ( 1020 )
    Moderate this up, it's what I would have posted anyhow. :)

    How would the WINE project cope with an NDA? They release lots of source and documentation for all to see. Hopefully the legal muscle in this case will stop Microsoft from unfairly restricting their Windows API info this time...

    If WINE did improve markedly as a result, maybe I could run that copy of "Microsoft Visual J++ 6.0 Professional Edition" I won the other day. But as it stands, I'd rather just return it for the money. If I can get $549 for it, I'll be one happy computer geek. Sorry, WINE, I want the money! :)
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • hm. My VERY LARGE software company, was doing a project that used DCOM extensively. The end result was a big piece of poo. Several critical things were broken, and we tracked down the problems to DCOM - asked MS to fix them, and got the blow-off.

    So we learned a valuable lesson - and ripped out DCOM and implemented our own code to cover those functions. One year later, we finally have a shippable product. Luckily, our company is big enough and robust enough to handle that kind of crap. But our smaller competitors (and others) may not be so lucky. Perhaps there are secret tricks to these DCOM APIs that only MS Engineers are privy to - but they're going to have to face the fact that their broken protocol is NOT going to be adopted, if it can't be made to work. I just wish more 3rd party software vendors would realize that using Microsoft (or any proprietary) APIs is a trap that should be avoided at all costs.

    I just remembered this old Metallica song. . .
  • by Anonymous Coward
    What we need is a published spec on all API's, file formats/network protocol, and commitment from Microsoft to keep it accurate and legal mechanisms for any third party and the public to complain if the spec might not disclose everything.

    API's are not just what OS's offer but also what apps like Office requires in order to run (i.e. if provide emulating environment according to published requirement and the thing won't run, but run on Windows, they have to fix the spec or disclose what the apps need).

    We don't need the source because we can do a better job in providing software component compatible with existing Microsoft files/programs. (e.g. Google interface to those piles of *.DOC files in the enterprise, perl to grok *.XLS files, *.DOC viewer that ignores macro etc).

    Microsoft doesn't need to be broken up. There's no problem at all if they want to innovate and integrate. Just be fair and allow access to everyone to do the same. What we disdain is the unethical practice of deliberately putting secret incompatibilities to grab market share.

    This should set precedent not just for Microsoft but other software/hardware products to be required to publish specs. They will be allow to use any secret means to implement them, as long as the specs are not violated. A good example is *.ps and *.pdf format. We have no problem with Adobe selling closed-source interpreter, as they always publish and give away for free the postscript/pdf manual and state that any third party is allowed to make alternative interpreter. This way if costumer want to buy Adobe interpreter it's simply because performance consideration (maybe faster, or better rendering) and not because that's the only way to make it works.

    It should be required that all publicly funded activity should never store the results in proprietary format/use proprietary protocols/etc. Because if they do, the result is not publicly available. Companies can sell good implementation but consumers should be able to interchange implementations without any disruption.

    DoJ, leave M$ alone! It's *my* kill!

  • Sounds like an inexact definition of the Win32 API to me. If this is in fact what they mean, it raises a number of very interesting questions:

    If they only release those parts of the API used by "independent software companies," does that mean the secret APIs stay secret? After all, they are only used by Microsoft. (Well, there may be some others who get leaks, but they would be more accurately described as "painfully dependent software companies.")

    But, if they are saying they will only publish the APIs (which they claim they already publish), how can that be considered a punishment or a remedy? What if they just republished what they have released in the past? Are they claiming that would be a remedy?

    On the other hand, if they publish all the API, including the hidden parts which have only been used by their own applications division before, that would be a significant remedy. It would not only allow fairer competition in the apps arena, but it would also make it possible to write a DRDOS-style competing operating system which ran everything Windows can run. Are they proposing this?

    If they are, does the fact that they are proposing this mean they are admitting they've been lying all these years? Does it undermine their defense? Does it preclude an appeal issue? Does it leave them open to lawsuits by their partners (who have long suspected their assurances were fraudulent)?

    Is everybody supposed to accept their promise that the API being released is complete? Are they going to allow impartial experts to look at the source code to verify they're releasing everything? Will that code compile to something which actually matches the binaries they sell? Who tests it?

    I have to admit that I believe the Win32 API is the key to any remedy. Source code would be a great source of entertainment, but the API is the key. They only reason we really need the source is to verify the API. (OK, it would help from a security standpoint, too. But that's not really related to the charges against them.)

    But we need a way to be sure the API is valid. An independent review of the source code seems to me to be the best method to do this. Bob Lewis has suggested an alternative (putting a bounty on finding an undocumented API with MS paying the bounty).

    I can't help wondering whether Microsoft has been lying for so long that they're caught in a place where they can't say anything new without contradicting something they've said in the past. I would hate to be the lawyers trying to suggest a real remedy without stomping on the testimony of one of the people paying my salary. ("Let's see, which one of you wants to go to jail for perjury?")
  • the supreme court's infamous phrase "with all deliberate speed" in brown v board of education was for a particular reason. they KNEW for a fact that they would not be able to desegregate all the schools, especially in the South, immediately. too many politically-minded individuals (like governor wallace, the prick who tried to block black kids from entering that one school) in *too many jurisdictions* to force the issue immediately.

    however, this case is different because microsoft if it was forced into a remedy, if the doj pushes it just right, can get smacked down in court. it remember that microsoft wants the vague language, but the govt probably wont accept it. they tried that before, remember? and if there is an explicit statement on when and how, if microsoft disobeys a court order they will get fscking reamed, no appeals, do not pass go, dont even think about delay tactics.

  • There are a dozen definitions for Open Source, I suppose -- but what Microsoft is proposing doesn't sound anything like the 'open source' that I'm familiar with.

    I do not have a robust understanding of much outside of the standard GPL model, so perhaps someone else could expand on the general applications of 'Open Source' to this issue?

  • Does this mean that I dont get the source code to notepad.exe? What about solitaire.exe? That's it! I'm taking my ball and going home.
  • First off, this is the right I do NOT want the government to have.

    Well, you're about 110 years too late to be bitching about that one.

  • That wasn't a Troll, jackass.

    Any idiot can see it was Flamebait.

    If you're not going to take moderation any more seriously than that, don't moderate.

  • Isn't this what Homer Simpson tried to push the Springfield Nuclear Powerplant to do when he grew hair and became an executive?
  • Microsoft has done a heck of a lot to make people aware[...]"

    "How many APIs does Sun document for StarOffice?"
    First, does that "heck of a lot" sound like Steve Balmer or what???? *cough!*

    Second, I belive that Sun has released the Staroffice code (though not with an "Open Source" compliant license). How better documented do you need?

    Wouldn't it be absolutely the coolest thing if it really was Steve Ballmer? (And I was actually Linus, hehe.)

    But who could seriously believe that hands-on control freaks like Bill and Steve could actually resist the temptation forever to go hang on Slash and post pro-Microsoft bafflegab. Not me. I bet each of them has done it at least once.
  • Excuse me for pointing out the blatantly obvious in your post, but none of the APIs you mentioned are used by the Apps team and none of them would require disclosure in a OS/Apps chinese wall.

    Remember that applications are written to Win32 and not to the raw NT API hence NTCreateProcessToken(), Subsystem APIs and NTLM RPCs are not part of this.

    Also, I've implemented authentication using NTLM over a socket quite happily using the published APIs. Your claim that Netscape cannot do this either implies that the guys at Netscape are fools or they have an alternate agenda. Look at the sample program in MSDN!!

    I hate to say it but your post was ill informed, inaccurate and bordering on an outright lie.

    John Wiltshire

    Now, this debate interests me. Who is right, "John Wiltshire" or Huusker []? Someone please hit me with a clue stick.
  • We now come to the fact why people whine about this: they think win32 function equivalents are slow, crippled and crap, and they demand access to the layers below win32 just because they THINK MS' major applications do use these layers INSTEAD of the win32 equivalents.

    Well, I don't see how you've addressed Huusker's original point that, among other things, certain key functionality couldn't be implemented in Samba because it's undocumented. How is the Win32 API going to help there? Stop! Don't answer, I'll answer for you: it isn't. So please take your Win32 API and stuff it where the... oh, I mean Win32 just isn't the whole story.

    Now, I'd like to say one thing: as soon as I saw the word "whine" in your post your credibility dropped to exactly zero. Why? Because that's a stock Microsoftism, right up there with "innovation". So, all I have to say is "next, please". I asked for someone to clue me in and you're just trying to snow me.
  • Microsoft documents Win32 for Windows developers.

    Microsoft isn't out there to help competitors reverse engineer their work.

    While I have great sympathy for the need of rich corporations (and rich sons of rich lawyers) to become yet richer, I think the general public's need to be protected from substandard products (gas tanks that explode anyone?) outweighs Microsoft's need to keep its APIs secret, which serves no other purpose than derailing attempts to make products that work well with Microsoft operating system but aren't sold by Microsoft.
  • The samba issue is an NT domain issue: a user has to be logged in on a Domain so it gets a Security token that it can use to access other resources within the domain. If you use a Sambaserver and you don't have an NT domain server, you can't use the domain security model (I think that's clear), so that's why there has to be a domain server to use samba.

    Yes and personally I'd prefer that that domain server be running Linux or BSD, which is perfectly possible, and in fact widely done. This works well but there are a few inoperability issues caused solely by Microsoft's hiding of API information, and intentional creation of complex buggy interfaces just to make it harder to create compatible products. Which of course hurts the consumer in a number of ways including make the software more bug-prone and limiting their choice to a single, abusive supplier and an overpriced product.

    I dunno, I think if I had to rely on someone's advice I'd go with huusker before I'd listen to you ;-) And I'll put my money on the Samba team's ability to continue cracking Microsoft's secret APIs faster than Microsoft can create new ones. Anyway, by now it should be obvious that the only people lame enough to keep reading this old thread are Microsoft employees and me :-)

    wishing you good luck with clib

    Errr... that's glib. You know, I used to feel like I'd been slimed after every online encounter with a Microsoft employee, but now I feel more like the way I feel after talking to a Moonie - there's a real chance that I may be able to help deprogram them, especially If they've already take the first step by hanging on Slash without being told to do it. There's no preacher like the converted.

    BTW, the "g" in "glib" stands for "Gimp", which stands for "Gnu Image Manipulation Program" and Gnu in turn stands for "Gnu's not Unix". Isn't that cool? And plus, "glib" also means exactly tha: it really is a slick library.
  • Like the code that Microsoft uses to implement its own applications. You know, those private API's that Word, Excel, and other M$ products use. I doubt they would open those up.
  • Besides the Win32 API, I would like to see Microsoft document the native NT API. This is the actual interface to the NT executive that is called by the Win32 subsystem. Who knows what undocumented goodies are hidden in there.
  • I would guess that their licensing would explicitly prohibit such uses. The announcement said "for developers of Windows applications" or something like that.
  • used by independent software companies to design their software applications to run on Windows.

    This excludes individuals (they're not companies) who write code (writing is not design) to make windows apps run on Linux (Linux is not Windows). So goodbye Wine. :(

    Am I being silly... or what?

  • This just means they're going to provide all level API access along with their documentation. My guess is it will be something like an NDA, they will provide you with the source you need to write an app or Windows-specific compiler but you'll need to register as a member of their development community. This would enable more access to good/free compilers which might facilitate GNU Windows software. This would also benefit the WINE people in getting their toy working with most if not all Windows apps. I'd say this is a good thing but maybe not a Good Thing.
  • > How do you know? Maybe it's not that bad. You have no way of knowing this.

    You can't judge a book by its cover, but you can judge a car by the pile of rubble it leaves behind it as it drives down the street.
  • Besides, Microsoft wouldn't be able to produce the Windows source code even if they wanted. Remember that it failed to do so with Windows 95 in the Caldera/DR-Dos case.
  • The only way I can see to get Microsoft to document their APIs and to ensure that they aren't holding back is to break them into multiple OS and multiple application companies and to limit the ability of those companies to establish exclusive contracts with one another.

    Oh, I completely disagree. I think that this remedy could be made to work, but not in the way MSFT suggests. My suggestion would be to take this remedy to its logical extreme: force MSFT to release the entire Windows operating system under a license like the GPL. An important point would have to be that MSFT would not be able to write the license itself: the license would either have to be the GPL itself, or a similar license developed by the court (say, the Thomas Penfield Jackson Public License (TPJPL) :)

    Under such a license, MSFT would have to release the *entire* Windows source code openly, the license at a minimum would have to meet OSI. The license should be modified to prohibit even MSFT, at minimum, to have any part of Windows be closed source (with the exception of technologies licensed from other companies/developers of course, such as HyperTerminal and several of the games, including Windows Solitaire).

    I think that would prevent MSFT from "weaseling out and involving endless debates among regulators and MSFT about the intricacies of software design."

  • This case is not about facts but about opinions. This case fully depends on the support that the states backing up the trial give to it. Two are already hesitant to accept the original proposal. MS knows that and tries to influence the public further by appearing cooperative and running expensive marketing campaigns. It's all about marketing and the proven FUD concept and that's something MS is good at.

    This proposal should be seen in that light. MS already knows that they are going to have to appeal whatever will be decided by Jackson. So their goal is not to fight his decision but to negotiate a good ruling for the period until the appeal.

    So, MS is doing well:
    - They fooled the media into believing they are cooperative now, this will definately put some pressure on Jackson.
    - They have a proposal which is not particularly bad for them. Though of course this proposal will never make it as an end proposal, I wouldn't be surprised if something like this becomes the intermediate ruling until the appeal.
  • Take the time to actually read it.

    Microsoft isn't going to open jack diddly squat. One, it's a delay tactic, so they can have a stronger appeal. Two, it's an appeal tactic. They can now whine "we offered this" and most judges will misinterpret this statement. Three, it's a purely misleading and confusing statement, intentionally.

    "parts of the Windows operating system used by independent software companies to design their applications."

    That means APIs. Not Windows. That means Microsoft's playing their little wording games as always. I only PRAY that the people who NEED to know this realize that this is all lies. Microsoft already provides somewhat open access to their APIs, in the form of code examples and detailed specifications, to indepenent application programmers. For a fee. Don't doubt for one second they'll continue to charge that fee. They're going to open it, maybe, yeah. And they're going to keep right on up with making money with it. Open doesn't mean free. Get over that braindead anachronistic method of thinking, including the part where you remove head from rectum, and realize that Microsoft's in it for the money, and they'll make money any way they can.

    And I'm going back to bed.

    =RISCy Business - o/~ Happy Burfday To Me, my insurance still costs an arm and a leg.. o/~
  • "confuse, delay, repeat"

    "If ingested seek medical attention and induce vomiting"

  • Wow, thank you very much for this info. Everybody complains about how MS hides important API functions from competitors, yet this is the first time I see someone give concrete examples (or maybe I didn't look hard enough, I'm not that interested in windows programming).

    Would you happen to know where I can find more information about this?

    Or does anyone have other examples of important Windows API functions/system calls which have been hidden and then discovered or reverse engineered by people outside of Microsoft?

    I know that DOS had a couple of these already, as illustrated by the numerous "MSDOS exposed", or "DOS internals" books published at that time. I wonder if there exist similar books on windows.
  • Keiretsu is a business concept barrowed from Japan where a number of companies (who are not competitors) have a common interest and therefore form an association to leverage mutual business development and cross sales. These associations rarely have the formality of either a partnership or joint venture, and are often founded on bonds of family or traditional alliances from the past. Kiretsus can manifest themselves in a number of ways, including preferential rates, cross referrals, exchange of competitive and market intelligence.

    I see this as the future (actually, the present if you look at their posessions and investments) of Microsoft, should it be forced to split.

    Much more information on Keiretus is available at trac/feature/planet/japan_k.html

    Hey, did you know that Sun, AOL, Netscape and Tivoli (IBM), @Home and many other companies are all already part of a Keiretsu? []

    Of course, they added a disclaimer when someone pointed out that in the US this behavior might strike someone was being that of a cartel.

  • The MS view of the OS future can be broken down to two propositions:

    (1)Windows is practically everywhere.
    (2)Windows does practically everything.

    There is nothing wrong with a company having this ambition, but it is naive to think that (2) supports (1) -- the opposite is true, at least depending on how you defien Windows.

    I think the above post raises and important point (providing features to users is a good thing) but misses several others. You can define operating system any whay you want; that's an old and entirely content-free argument. The substantive issue is how you integrate the various parts of the system -- whether it has a modular and flexible design.

    Windows is not outstanding for its modularity.

    The argument is not necessarily that a software system must be configured minimally, but that it should be capable of being minimally configured, at least to maximize its overall flexibility. This doesn't mean that a minimal configuration is most usable for a specific role (e.g. office automation); but that a light weight, modular system can be configured optimally for many roles.

    The idea that operating systems should be light weight doesn't mean that they can only be employed in light weight applications, it is just engineering common sense.

  • by / ( 33804 )
    There's something about the idea of having to see Microsoft's private parts that makes me wish Judge Jackson would reconsider. Certainly Gates and Balmer are well endowed in the pocket book, but can we expect the same about the entire corporation in every respect?
  • A higher percentage of the Hong Kong middle class (that is, middle-class incomes) have a net worth over a million dollars than middle-class in the US. And the *reason* for that is because of the low tax rate in Hong Kong.
  • Neither of us have presented any evidence. How can we hope to convince anyone else?
  • Many people in Hong Kong end up millionaires. Why? Because they aren't taxed to death. Most people in the middle class in America could save a million dollars over the course of their life (do the math), except for taxes.
    p.s. people make a lot of the shootings in the old west frontier, which didn't suffer from an excess of government. However, the death rate was much lower than today's New York, Detroit, or Washington, D.C.
    p.p.s. the most organized of the criminals can be found in the legislature of any government.
  • Hong kong is an abbaration. First of all many many people in hong kong live in absolutely inhumane conditions. Apparently the millionaires in Hong Kong don't give a damn about their fellow human beings just like the millionaires in the rest of the world.

    Secondly Hong Kong if put in a bubble would die in a week. Hong Kong can not raise enough food, water, or oxygen to sustain itself. It needs the labor of outsiders to provide the basic requirements of life.
  • Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I really wasn't going that far in my advocacy of the Win32 API. My basic point was that a breakup of Microsoft into OS and Apps will not force any release of internal APIs that aren't being used for applications. Take all the Office applications, and even IE and I think you'll find they exclusively use Win32 (documented or not) as they run on both 9x and NT/2000. A breakup would force disclosure of the full Win32 API - as Huusker pointed out there are still some areas of doubt such as CreateProcessAsUser - but would probably cement the internal subsystem and NT kernel API firmly into the bounds of NDAs.

    I don't think that even the DOJ is claiming such functions as network file sharing, user logons and process/thread/memory management are in the realm of applications so you won't find any necessesity for an OS company to be disclosing any of this information to the public. In fact with well over 90% of the market the OS company would probably continue on with business as usual and keep their secrets to themselves until it became profitable again for the company to interact with other systems.

    Win32 functions are not slow, crippled or anything of the sort. Huusker's point was that there is a lower level API available that would make it far easier to implement a Unix like system on NT, to implement interoperable network systems and to generally gain a higher degree of interoperability with less popular systems. In this he is mostly correct. He is blatantly incorrect in his statement that splitting Microsoft will ease this situation at all.

    Huusker made some claims that NTLM authentication over a socket was hard to do. I implemented it in a few hours with VC6 and an MSDN CD so it really can't be too bad. Just take the sample code, read the comments, read the API description and it just works. Netscape have probably rejected this as an option as it is very platform specific and ties their code base to a Microsoft technology - something they have tried very hard not to do. I doubt that they are seriously needing anything more than what is readily available to implement it if they felt like it.

    I believe one of the big reasons Microsoft has succeeded in the past is that they have played very tough on the business side and have been (relatively) generous to developers on the development side. RAD tools such as VB and technologies like COM cemented their position as the programming platform of the 90s. Things may change now with the maturity of OSS, but that question is yet undecided. The end result of this court case after all appeals have been heard will probably dictate the future direction of computing. Let's all hope it is a good one for industry and consumers alike.

    Hope this helped with the clue stick.

    John Wiltshire

  • The phrase "operating system" has become rather amorfous to say the least
    Actually, that's why I was careful to use the term "systems company", rather than "operating system company". (They're both vague, but at least the first one is blatantly vague. :-))

    For better or worse, MS really has succeeded in integrating a lot of functionality into Windows. I don't think ripping all that out would benefit anyone. The really important division is between Office and Windows; IE, "Back Office", and possibly Visual Studio, should all remain in the hands of the people that make Windows.

    Now, if I were designing an OS from the ground up, I'd do things differently. A clearly delineated, universal, minimal OS is a good thing. (That's my favorite feature of UN*X, to the extent that it's the case with UN*X.) But the government doesn't have the right or the ability to design OSs, especially not from the Judicial branch.
  • Why be curious? They tell you exactly which parts:
    provide open, timely and complete access to the parts of the Windows operating system code used by independent software companies to design their software applications to run on Windows

    That means they'll give access to the API header files...but...wait a second! They already do that, don't they? Hmmmm....

  • TIME has an essay from Bill Gates [] this week.

    Here's an AP Article [] on the essay. It contains this passage (which seems to be broadly paraphrased) regarding preventing future outbreaks of ILOVEYOU type viruses where Gates sounds like an an open source evangelist:

    "The front line of defense against such sophisticated viruses is a continually evolving computer operating system that attracts the efforts of eager software developers, Gates said."

  • Their proposal merely proposes changes that addresses problems found in the court ruling.

    "Hrm, court found that we didn't allow xyz, so we'll allow that now."

    It does nothing to prevent abuses from happening in the future, nor does it do anything to address problems which were not determined during the trial.
  • Windows would be nothing without it's additional features that makes it a pleasure for developers to develop on. Imagine windows without basic services like COM or Explorer. What will happen to windows in the future is major services like Voice Recognition etc will not get integrated into windows because of any split up. MS has been researching this kindo f stuff for years, and it's absolutely idiotic to prevent them from adding these features to their OS.

    This'd happen if the DoJ's ruling is to break up MS and nothing else. But if they're required to really open up the source, or at least to realease full doc of the API/internals then anybody could add these features to the OS with full integration. Sure MS has been reasearching Voice Recognition for a long time, but they're not the only one. Why should they be the only company to integrate those features within their OS ?

    Especially since when they do, everyone else copies them (just like webbrowsing and every other feature in Windows now days).

    Wow, I didn't know MS invented webbrowsing. Guess they should sue those people at CERN then.

    More seriously, you need to get a better kowledge of computer reasearch history if you think MS has ever invented anything. They may get copied a lot (like GNOME/KDE), but they too have copied former work to build their OS. I see nothing wrong with that.
  • I am surprised at how much vehemence the people on /. have for MS. Some guy said that they should be forced to open all their apps to ensure competition. How about Linus being forced to BSD license all his code to allow other people to incorperate it into their programs without the restrictions of the GPL. Of course that's silly, and so it opening all microsoft apps. The governemnt, and the computing community have gotten the smell of blood, and proceded to try to rip MS to shreds. Case in point: The government is bandying about a proposal to break MS up. If that wasn't bad enough, the OS company would be allowed to keep internet explorer in the OS. Wasn't that the whole point of contention in the lawsuit? Sure MS has monopolistic practices, but no more than the baby bells or the cable companies. If you saw what kind of stronghold they have in the washington area, you'd think that MS was embittered in competition. The government is completly ignoring the practices that make MS a monopoly. Such as an OEM not being able to install another OS along with Windows, or MS charging different prices to different OEMs. You know what? None of these problems will be solved by breaking up MS. Then there is the thing with applications. People point to the success of Office and scream monopoly. However, the main reason Office is so succesful is MS basically gives it away to the OEMs. They are perfectly free to preinstall WordPerfect (in fact, some do) but Office is cheaper to bundle? Is that a monopolistic practice? When talk gets to IE and Netscape and Java, the arguement gets ridiculous.
    A) People use IE because Netscape sucks. It is bloated, slow, and a disk hog. Simple as that. Netscape didn't lose because MS strong armed them, they did a fine job losing on their own. If Netscape 6 is the sight of things to come, Netscape's going to keep on losing. There is the hairy fact that IE is only available on Windows, Mac, and Sun (kinda). Is that monopoly? Hell no! If it were, then the KDE people should be sued for not porting their browser to Windows!
    B) MS only made Java better. Before MS came along Java performance sucked ass. By extending Java to work better on windows, they took an Open system and enhanced it to make it more appealing to develop on Windows. Again not a monopoly! Making your OS the more appealing development platform is the whole point of a commercial OS! Should Linus be sued because Linux is an appealing platform for POSIX development? Second, in recent months, Sun has done more to kill Java than MS ever has, so what's the beef?
    C) People point to closed technologies like DirectX which keep people chained to the Windows platform. Know what? There is a reason that people use DirectX. It whips anything else out there! In recent days, even Direct3D has become more feature filled (if not faster and as easy to program) as OpenGL. Then there is the superlative capabilities of the rest of the DirectX suite. Now, people concerned with freedom would look at DirectX, see that it's not available on (Linux|BSD|BeOS), respect the companies wishes, and develop something that could compete with it! Nothing on Linux or even BeOS holds a candle to DirectX.
    In general, all of the application stuff points to a whinny bitchy attitude among the computing community. They are all running to the government for help because they don't have the skill to make something better. Even now, I am very proud of (most) of the OSS community because instead of whining and bitching, they went out and developed software that put MSs to shame.
  • OK, so in the scenario you propose I'm a developer who has been granted access to the API through MSDN on the condition that I only write Windows applications and never work on a project like WINE. In that case what's to stop me from writing a program called TESTAPI.EXE that would do the following pseudocode:

    say hello
    test API function #1 using sub testAPI1
    test API function #2 using sub testAPI2
    test API function #3..#n (you get the idea)
    report whether the tests are successful or unsuccessful
    say goodbye

    sub testAPI1
    test all of the functions of the first API
    report back the results

    sub testAPI2 through whatever...
    run a test on the API
    report back the results

    (end of code)

    Now then. I haven't broken either of the conditions of the licensing agreement. I've just written some code that tests whether these new APIs do exactly what Microsoft saye they will. However, I also release this program under the GPL or the Artistic License or something similar. Now a WINE developer, or anybody else for that matter, can look at my code, see what functions it's testing and has some concrete examples of how the functions are called and what they're supposed to do, and then use that to write a functional equivalent. In other words, assuming the WINE developer isn't tained by the same or a similar license, I've just implemented a clean room environment that will allow a developer to re-implement a library that exposes the API, then test it to see if it works the same way Microsoft's code does (success, failure, all we'd be interested in is the same results). Yet I haven't included a single line of MS code or done anything that would violate the license I signed.

    Heck, I wouldn't have to release this under an open source license if the MS license forbade it. I'd just write the app in Visual Basic. It's no secret that you can disassemble VB programs to get the original code back, right down to the variable names you used.

    I'm a Perl hacker, so excuse me for saying it, but all we would need would be to get the camel's nose into the tent.
  • Watch this.. Remember the MS philosophy of "Embrace and extend". They will start claiming that this is "Open Source" in the truest sense, and by means of massive advertising to this effect, the MS definition of what Open Source means will become the accepted one in the publics eye. The average joe on the street doesn't know anything about Open Source, and is waiting for the organization with the most advertising bucks to tell them what it means. That ain't us folks...

  • First of all, I don't think we have to question whether the government has a "right" to interfere.

    Why not? If you and I agree to do something together, and write and sign a contract saying who does what, and who gets what and so on, then later on, I decide I don't like the contract, and want the government to modify it in my favor, is this right? Why should it be different if I sell you something on the condition you don't make a copy of it?

    I'll assume here that we're talking about the US government here. The US government is granted the authority to do certain things in the constitution. Stopping "anything MS does to hurt society" is not one of the duties enumerated.

    Copyright law does not exist "solely for social benefit". Copyright law exists "to promote science and the useful arts". This doesn't say, "once you have a product, copyright law will only help you so far as your actions benefit society". IP law is a method of providing for property rights in non-physical things. Property rights are necessary because without them people have little incentive to do anything productive. How hard would you work if your entire paycheck was taken in taxes to be used "solely for social benefit"?

    The issue in the microsoft case is that microsoft is using it's control over the application software market to prevent entry into the operating systems market. Think: who's most likely to go into the operating systems market? Dot-coms? Hardware vendors? Or maybe large-application developers? Netscape or Corel are the types of companies that can develop a competetor to Windows. AOL/Netscape and Corel are in fact doing that right now. It's based on Linux, but that's beside the point. Microsoft's position of control of the OS market helps them make sure competetors never get big enough to enter the OS market.

    Except for this issue of preventing competition in the OS market, Microsoft doesn't have any incentives to try to take over the application software market. Or, they may want to take it over, but if they do so, it isn't really going to harm the consumer. I think this is refered to as the one-monopoly rent theorem, or internalization of competetive efficiencies.

    What we need to do is force all MS desktop OSs to be standards-compliant whenever possible, and force all non-standard protocols and APIs (and fileformats, etc) to be open and non-obfuscated, for at least a few more years. (It'd be great to do that for *all* MS products, but they don't have a monopoly in any others, so perhaps it wouldn't be fair. Feh.)

    This shows you really don't get it. Sure, we'd all be better off if we just had the federal government raid Bill Gates bank account and use that to reduce our taxes, but that wouldn't be a good idea, because it reduces the incentives for people to try to become rich. And the only way you can become rich is by producing something people want (or think they want). If you don't think incentives are important, look at how "ideal" the soviet union was. There were no incentives, so no one worked.

    I'm pretty sure the US currently has an extra tax on "windfall profits". This is defined as like some really high percentage gain on an investment. But what if a risk should be taken? Who's going to gamble five years of their life on a risky business if they don't have the potential to become filthy rich through it? If there's an investment that could give me 10000% returns, but has a 99.7% chance of failing, I might do it, but not if the government is going to come in, and say "Windfall Profits! Give us 90% of all profits above 500%" (or whatever it is).

    How exactly is Microsoft "fucking its customers in the ass"? By making crappy products? Everyone selling software to consumers does that. Go pick up a consumer level graphics program (Print Shop, Print Artist, Print Fiasco, whatever). You'll be horrified at how completely unusable they are for anyone more skilled with computers than my cat. Buggy software? Sure, compared to Apache, or Linux it's buggy, but it's not too bad compared to what is shipped by other proprietary software vendors. When was the last time you saw "stable" and "netscape" in the same sentence? But it's usable, and that's good enough for the desktop. By pricing to high? This is plausible, given that they do have a monopoly, we would expect them to. But how much cheaper would computers sold to consumers be if they had a free OS? Not that much. Windows 98 isn't a big portion of the price. Yeah, they screw people on NT, but the people who buy NT are the people can actually shop around and say, "I'll just run Linux, and save the $2000 in MS licenses". Does anyone think that MIS people wouldn't be willing to go over to Linux if MS jacked the price up high enough? So MS can't really overprice by that much.

    My feeling is that since the technology industry is so volitile, the usual issues of regulating monopolies don't matter. Just because you have a monopoly today doesn't mean you will tomorrow. And the more you try to use your monopoly to screw people, the less likely you will have one tomorrow. But more importantly, regulating the computer industry would be bad, because regulators aren't anywhere near as good at guessing what should be done than venture capitalists are.
    People like to pretend that it's just Microsoft, but you know the government would never consider stopping there. Remember when the government got involved in civil rights, it was about making sure the KKK didn't prevent people from voting. Now the government has gotten to the point where they consider a disparity between the number of men and women who play sports at a school as absolute evidence of discrimination.

    And don't bring up "the government built the internet". The government didn't build the internet any more than the Navy invented microwave ovens.


    (note: by "fascist" I mean someone who wants to maintain the illusion of private ownership, but in reality have government make all the decisions in the best interests of the people)
  • Hello? To quote my original post:

    "(note: by "fascist" I mean someone who wants to maintain the illusion of private ownership, but in reality have government make all the decisions in the best interests of the people)"

    Regarding the usenet law ("first person to call their opponent a nazi loses"), I didn't call him a nazi, I called him a fascist. Fascism has connotations of totalitarianism, and of racist nationalism, but it also describes the economic system uniquely (fascists want the economy run in a certain way). If someone advocates the same economic system, and I call them a fascist, I am suggesting to them that many of the arguments they are making have been argued and found pointless a long time ago, and that since they are probably not a fascist, they should probably reconsider the effect of what they are recommending.

    I alternate between "fascist" and "socialist" for political ideologies I don't agree with. I know which one applies in which situation. I also use "fascist" to refer to republicans who want to control your every thought, and limit "socialist" to those who think that the best society is where everyone is an altruist, and think this society can be obtained.

    I never call anyone a "Nazi" or a "Communist", because I've never met anyone who could be accurately described as such. A term a lot of people I know use is "statist", but people who don't follow rabid libertarian political theory might not be familiar with it.

    The statement I was responding to said that we don't need to consider whether the governemnt has a right to interfere. Whether the government has a right to interfere or not isn't the issue. The issue is that the poster didn't think we even need to ask that question. To my mind, this implicitly asserts that the nation is more important than the individual, the characteristic of fascism.

  • This is, to say it politely, bullshit. The Win32 API specs are carefully crafted to be incomplete. They tell you just enough to get locked in to Windows, but not enough to actually make a product that would compete with Microsoft.

    You're telling me that in order to compete with a large product microsoft say Microsoft Office, competitors like Corel and Sun need to know InitializeSecurityContext?

    Most of these APIs are moderately documented on MSDN. That's a hell of a lot better than the ridiculus JavaDOC sun passess off as documentation (like getContext() - gets the context).

    I don't think Microsoft goes out of their way to document native NT "APIs", but they do document a heck of a lot of Win32 APIs quite well. How the heck do you think so much of Windows Software can actually be written.
    The 99.999% of these so called 'hidden APIs' would be used by 0.001% of software companies out there. Simply cause they don't need it.

    Maybe some of those APIs would help people that need to do low level stuff like Oracle. Symantec seem to do quite a lot of low level stuff (but maybe they get special secrets from Microsoft).

    I disagree on your points about COM+/ADSI and DHTML though. Microsoft has done a heck of a lot to make people aware of these technologies and how to use them, there was even an MSDN show on ADSI, MSDN's web workshop and DHTML dude covers DHTML quite well, and COM+ has been covered to death by both MSDN and DevDays. How many APIs does Sun document for StarOffice?
    Maybe Microsoft's problem is actually making so many of their appliactions have such accessible APIs. They explicitly add APIs to Office that other people can use, they do that with IE, and their other major applications too. Perhaps if they made everything monolithic and unextendable (like netscape), it would make some people happier - but I can assure you, developers wouldn't be.

    I really do believe Microsoft is one of the companies in the industry who actually does the best documenting. Just look at MSDN and stuff...even Microsoft's C documentation kicks the butt off Unix C man pages.

    They do not document a few of their exported functions, or core functions, but I'm not so sure they really had to in the first place. Now they're offering to release it all on request (seeing as everyone is whining).
  • Splitting MS in two (OS and Software) ignores the other pies MS has its collective finger in, including Media and Hardware. Split 'em in to three or four, and enforce strict behavioral limits on the various sub-companies. IE: No more pre-announcing that spiffy new OS 5 years before it actually goes to market.
  • I could easily see microsoft doign this, however their definition of "parts of the Windows operating system code used by independent software companies to design their software applications to run on Windows" is probably much different than everyone else's opinion. The use of the word "software companies" might mean it's only open to them, not the whole community.
  • Microsoft must be immediately dissolved, and it's assets sold at auction.

    First off, this is the right I do NOT want the government to have. If they got away with this with Microsoft, believe you me every time they had a problem with a company, this precedent would allow them to do just that.

    All source code for all applications they have ever written should be placed under GPL, and the copyrights assigned to Richard Stallman.

    Why the GPL? Why Stallman? What do either have to do with this? Besides the fact that this case is about win9x and Internet Explorer ONLY, if they were to take the source code it should be public domain and nothing else. Why should RMS get some kind of gift from the government? If anyone were to get a copyright from it it would be the companies that actually deal with Microsoft and were so harmed by them (i.e. IBM, Sun, Apple etc..). But you wouldn't want this because they are big, bad, proprietary companies aren't they?

    The domain should be assigned to the EFF, with them directed by court order to maintain a web site at that address containing all the relevant court documents for all time.

    Once again, why? Just because the EFF is "fighting for the little guy" does NOT make them some higher moral entity. I respect the EFF and much of their work, but Why should they get anything out of this (see above).

    All other domains with Microsoft in their title should be required to change their names. It is acceptable that they still have "ms", such as MSNBC, but only if they find a title where the MS means something else.

    So the name Microsoft will be completely obliterated? What will that accomplish?

    What do you think will happen to the companies that rely on MS products if MS disappears one day? Do you think that they will suddenly give up and start using Linux? Is that really what you want? Not me. Sorry the last thing I want to do is retrain several thousand users (and I work for a small company) to use their 7337 Linux desktops. We have Linux servers on sites. We have MS servers, we have sun, we have SCO. The desktops are all MS however. We couldn't afford to have to completely start over from scratch, and neither could any of our customers. Of course your proposal doesn't take that into account does it? Screw big business (and small/medium business too) as long as Microsoft and it's name is completely obliterated from the planet.

    Something needs to be done, but the ways you describe are the obvious result of extreme zealotry and are insane.

    Call me a Microsoft shill but I am looking out for my and many other small/medium business owners out there, not to mention the end user. Completely ending all things MS will hurt a very large consumer and economic base in this country.


    Flame all you want, I'll post more.

  • if MS is only required to release a subset of the code, what is to keep them from hiding the codecs in the other parts or intentionally obfuscating the source (ie, leaving the explanatory comments in the hidden parts)? basically, unless a company can get at the whole source, there can be some real issues and MS knows it.
  • Even with the new much-hyped APIs you mention above, they are still carefully designed to be almost-but-not-quite complete.

    I'll pick COM+ from your list as an example. One of the key features of COM+ is asynchronous remote calls, which is crucial for high-volume server apps that need to handle lots of simultaneous requests. Many outside developers have been begging for async COM for a long time. The underlying OSF RPC/NDR layer has been able to do async RPC on Win 9x/NT for years. And yet the async feature of COM+ is only available on Windows 2000. There is no good technical reason for this. Microsoft's own software (e.g. ADSI for NT) seem to be using async COM just fine on NT. But if anybody else wants to use async COM , Microsoft forces Windows 2000 down your throat.

    I could rant about hidden APIs in ADSI to cripple the competition (e.g., Samba was getting too close to unlocking NTLM RPC), but I'll stop here. The point is that Microsoft will never willingly divulge any API information that would hurt the sales of their latest OS.

  • I know this is a joke, but I remember someone saying something like this before and being very serious.

    If Win9X is open sourced, there will be much more people looking for a way to bring down the "OS" then people looking to patch the problems.
    You'd have to wait six months or more before it'd be safe enough to put your Win9X box online again.

    Some of you (most of you :) probably don't think of this as a bad thing, but right here and now MS-Win is a very important part of most people's interaction with the 'Net(TM).

    "I trust in my abilities,
  • > to the parts of the Windows operating system
    > code used by independent software companies

    but not the 5% hidden api that lets MS-created sw hop win versions?

    and make MS apps run faster?

    what a pathetic joke.
  • John Wiltshire, without a doubt. Huusker doesn't understand how win32 development works, or how microkernel systems work. MS made the win32 api for just 1 purpose: developers could just use 1 api and it will always work, no matter what MS would do underneath in the kernel layers on top of the microkernel. Therefor functions in the layers below win32 are sometimes not documented, for the one and only reason that people should use win32 equivalents. (like Huusker should look at the Platform SDK/Security tree in the MSDN. If you still need extra functions from layers below win32, you definitely don't understand the big scala of functions provided by win32)

    We now come to the fact why people whine about this: they think win32 function equivalents are slow, crippled and crap, and they demand access to the layers below win32 just because they THINK MS' major applications do use these layers INSTEAD of the win32 equivalents. (Good example: there is not a function in win32 that gives you a list with all the files in a directory. You have to use 3 functions from the win32 and some lines of code to create this list yourself. Some people believe that there IS such a function somewhere in the huge pile of functionality inside win32.(below it, in lower OS layers)).

    The main reason why John Wiltshire is right is because there is just one reason why an OS succeeds and for MS thus makes a lot of money: when there is software for it that works and LOTS of it. When people are NOT able to create software because they just CAN'T write working code because they lack serious information, the amount of software is declining and the success of the OS will vanish. Therefor Microsoft has put up the largest base of developer information on the net: MSDN. But you know what? still people try to find ways to whine about that large pile of information. Like mr Huusker. You don't need subsystems to emulate a fork(). This is because NT is not PROCESS oriented but THREAD oriented. trying to write UNIX like software on NT is only possible if you PORT parts of UNIX SPECIFIC code to NT specific code (which only should be small parts of the system). I mean, an NT Thread definitely isn't waiting of there is a SIGV_KILL coming along. :)
  • Well, it's a nice idea, but in order for this to be "open source" as we understand it, there are several necessary conditions that Microsoft would have to agree to. Namely:
    1. People can read the source.
    2. People can fix the source.
    3. People can reuse the source.

    1 is really only a very complete form of documentation. It will help people write compatible programs, and avoid "hidden APIs", but won't benefit anyone besides Windows applications.

    2 would be useful from a support perspective; when you find bugs in Windows, you can fix them yourself, rather than having to complain to Microsoft. But again, it only helps Windows users.

    3 is the kicker. This is where WINE can make Windows APIs work perfectly. Where Your Favorite Unix can take advantage of any clever OS things Microsoft might have figured out (yes, it is possible). But it goes beyond that; if you can reuse the source, then you can make your own version. Then we might very well see Red Hat Windows, and 500 other distributions. There would be nothing special about Microsoft anymore.

    In short, 1 and 2 just make Windows a better product and don't really hurt Microsoft. But 3 hurts Microsoft enormously, perhaps even unreasonably. Therefore, I think it's unlikely that Microsoft would agree to 3, and so its proposal wouldn't be punitive.

    Of course, all this assumes that we're talking about the complete source, and it seems Microsoft may not be. So that would make it an even less significant remedy for the government and the public. In short, I very much doubt that Microsoft's proposal is meaningful.

  • Many people in Hong Kong end up millionaires. Why? Because they aren't taxed to death

    Don't believe the Hong Kong Low tax fallacy. Yes direct taxes are extremely low, BUT...

    There is no private ownership of land in Hong Kong - the HK Government owns every square inch of it and charges rent and rates at sky high levels. As a proportion of income, it's a much higher take than most European countries or the US. It's just the direct tax rates that look good.


  • Quoth the poster:
    The US government is granted the authority to do certain things in the constitution. Stopping "anything MS does to hurt society" is not one of the duties enumerated.
    ObShoolhouseRock: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America:
    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,
    promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
    To me, that seems to say the government is in the business of remedying social ills.

  • Quoth the poster:
    The preamble is not considered part of the list of "enumerated powers"
    Fair enough. I read the original post as looking for the philosophical justification for the government's power to intervene. The legal justification is found in the many-times-upheld Sherman Anti-Trust Act, which rests (I believe) pretty firmly on the Commerce Clause.

    Put another way, the Commerce Clause gives the government the power to intervene in the Microsoft mess. The Preamble offers insight into the right of the government to that power.

    But thanks for clearing up -- or forcing me to :) -- the thrust of the argument.

  • I don't think he's going to be bamboozled by their bafflegab.

    Tonight on the 11 o'clock news a local Seattle TV station briefly reported on this story, and also reported that "Bill Gates was hoping that this would convince Judge Jackson that Microsoft is acting in good faith in this matter." Or something like that, you'll have to forgive me for not remembering exactly.

    Now, call me naive, but doesn't that mean that MS does not expect this proposal to be accepted at all? In other words, aren't they just trying to score points with the judge by proposing something that has no substance at all? Or should we interpret it that the DOJ is so unfair that MS does not expect them to accept any reasonable deal?

  • There is something called an inalienable right. Microsoft has an inalienable right to the IP it has produced.


    Inalienable rights are for people. Microsoft is not a person.

    Micrsoft is a corporate entity which exists only through the auspices of government. There is no natural right to form a stockholder-owned, limited-liability entity.

    Microsoft exists because the people, through their government, have found it beneficial to allow certain legal rights to corporate entities. These rights are not preexisting, not inalienable, and subject to revocation if the conditions upon which they were granted are violated.

  • "The DOJ plan would effectively reduce Windows to a small core of low-level functionality that performs only the most basic operations."

    So instead of making a better product, they now get to blame someone else for their own crud OS? How is this hurting Microsoft?
    Perhaps if Windows were regressed back to DOS it might actually be able to perform those "basic operations" without crashing.
  • Opening up the APIs to their COM objects and DLLs would be so nice. I'd love to get ahold of the Office widgets. The MS Office team (apparently) doesn't even use MFC because it's such a piece of junk. Just compare the toolbars and look very carefully at the length of the separators.

    However, the reason why the MS Office widgets are so lovely compared to the crufty MFC widgets is that the Office widget code is entirely internal to Microsoft. Thus, backwards compatibility isn't as much of a concern. And it was backwards compatibility that muddied MFC (and Windows). Ask anyone who's written floating CToolbars [] ($#@*!ing COMCTL32.DLL).

    Microsoft will be sued very readily for violating antitrust if they modify their newly open APIs. Competitors could claim they did it to purposely screw them, especially since Microsoft will only release the changes after they've internally adapted to them. At one level, they'd be right. At another, well, tough. Differently versioned COM interfaces have unique GUIDs for a reason.

    And you thought Windows/System32 was big as it stands! Now version it...

  • Would you happen to know where I can find more information about this?

    here []
    and here []

  • I think they'll be opening up the parts of source code that are least embarassing.
  • by Pete Bevin ( 291 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @06:10AM (#1087246) Homepage
    To quote jwz []:
    If there's a cautionary tale here, it is that you can't take a dying project, sprinkle it with the magic pixie dust of ``open source,'' and have everything magically work out. Software is hard. The issues aren't that simple.

    Jamie was talking about Mozilla, but I think his point applies even more to Windows. Open source isn't a magic bullet that will suddenly make quality code out of the mess that is win32. The whole design is broken, from the fat32 filesystem, through the layers of legacy interface, to the thousands of haphazardly organized system calls.

    I'll be sticking with Unix, thank you. It sucks, but at least it doesn't suck that much...

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Saturday May 06, 2000 @09:14PM (#1087247) Homepage Journal
    I read it the same way you did. It sounds like open APIs.

    If Microsoft's strategy for dealing with the DOJ were distilled to instructions like those on a shampoo bottle, it would read "confuse, delay, repeat". :-)


  • by unc_onnected ( 6084 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @09:50AM (#1087248)
    we can argue semantically as to whether or not "keiratsu" refers to an economic model, but what i am talking about is how japan, south korea, indonesia, and most of the other asian countries built up heavy industry after ww2.

    all of asia realized they needed to modernize as quickly as possible, and so the various gov'ts provided direct and indirect support to people who were willing to create large, industrial conglomerates- keiratsu in japan, and the chaebol in south korea. similar to nationalized or partly gov't owned companies in many other asian countries.

    consequently, you see the rapid rise of huge conglomerate companies invested in multiple nonsynergistic industries, with the gov't directly supporting those companies through partial ownership (hence direct investment to purchase capital equipment) and other perks like tax breaks or high import tariffs to block foreign competition.

    the problem though, with anything the govt touches (or feeds directly) is it tends to become inefficient and dependent on gov't handouts. in this case, companies with gov't funding or support were expected to take up part of the burden of social services- lifetime employment and housing subsidies for its workers, which until very recently were the norm in japan, s korea, and elsewhere.

    furthermore, in attempts to build up certain industries which a particular country felt was vital (like automobiles in south korea) a company would keep pouring money into particular divisions that kept losing money and had little to no chance of ever catching up with foreign competitors.

    adding to this was that many companies were not willing to compete with one another, preferring to expand into product lines that had no native equivalent. korean companies would try not to hurt each other overly much, the japanese companies would deal only with japanese suppliers, etc. even if americans or europeans offered lower prices on raw materials, japanese would only deal with japanese, or they would expand (vertical integration) into southeast asia. this still happens all the time, but its getting harder to do (because of, as you mentioned, globalization)- and many japanese companies have realized that they simply dont know how to produce the raw materials they need at internal prices competitive with those they might get outside their companies.

    the long-term result is an underlying weakness in a country's economy- this is the stuff macro hedge bets are made of, like soros and his friends deflating most of the southeast asian currencies, which forced rising interest rates, which killed property speculation and crashed the stock markets simultaneously.

    you and i are both right. in the 80s many american companies werent producing good products. and business cycles do go up and down. but you ignore the difference between a hard fall and a soft one- if asian companies had been more efficient in the first place, they would not have suffered nearly as much as they did in the transition between good times and bad.

    and the underlying cause of the inefficiency is the ideas supporting keiratsu- companies overly dependent on government support and nationalistic or overtly chummy business practices. it allows for rapid expansion and the creation of whole industries in a country that didnt have them even 50 years ago, but it comes with a price.

  • His post was one of the most accurate I have seen on slashdot for a while.

    What you are conveniently editing out of things John, is the *history*. Yes, I'm sure Netscape can implement NTLM over raw sockets *now*, but not back in the NT3.5 timeframe that they needed to in order to compete with MS.

    The SSPI functions *WERE NOT DOCUMENTED* until NT4.x or so. Delay in documentation whilst your own internal teams have full access is usually enough to ensure dominance of your application over the competitors.

    This is a completely obvious truth that cannot be denied. I've been up to Redmond, I *know* how this works. You may be able to fool non-programmers John, but not those of us who have to deal with MS documentation (and lack thereof) on a daily basis.

    Case in point, the password verification API called on change password on domain controllers. This was only *finally* documented after I revealed it's existance on the 'Net and posted sample code for it.

    The Novell integration group at MS had been using that API for *years*.

    There are too many of these inconvenient peices of historical evidence for you to keep denying them. Of course you can claim "it's documented now" and I fully expect you to. That's not the point. How many years did MS developers have access *before* it was documented ?


    Jeremy Allison,
    Samba Team.

  • by RayChuang ( 10181 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @12:42PM (#1087250)
    I think one idea Microsoft may be seriously considering is to produce TWO different versions of Windows 98/ME/2000.

    One version will be the same as the current Windows 98/ME/2000, with Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, and other Microsoft "enhancements." The other will be akin to the original release of Windows 95; it will use the Windows 98 or 2000 base (including the ACPI Plug and Play), but will lack Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, etc.--essentially a "Plain Jane" release.

    The "Plain Jane" release version is intended for OEM's, who can load whatever enhancement they want (Netscape Communicator/Netscape 6.0, RealPlayer 7.0, QuickTime 4.0, Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0, etc.) and have rights to even change the Windows intial startup screen to look different (it'll say "Windows 98" or "Windows 2000 Professional" but you'll also see logos for the OEM and the other add-ons the OEM preloads). Don't be surprised that the "Plain Jane" Windows 98/ME/2000 will be sold to OEM's at a flat cost of $29.95 per copy.

  • by SurfsUp ( 11523 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @03:09PM (#1087251)
    NTLM RPC API Essential for doing DC operations to manage domain accounts. With this Samba could eliminate the need for NT Server. Still undocumented.

    I'm pretty late posting this and it's nested pretty deeply so I don't really expect anyone to read this much less moderate it but here it is anyway...

    This is the perfect time to sue Microsoft to get the needed api information. Think about it. Little open-source developer (with the help of the EFF) goes after big bad 800 pound Microsoft to get a little itty bitty piece of information that would benefit all mankind. With the opensource world, the DOJ, and needless to say, the supreme court watching carefully. Should they try to put up any meaningful kind of a fight the negative publicity and probable negative legal fallout for Microsoft would be astounding.

    Just sue for one little piece of information, get it, and the floodgates will open. Microsoft would never dare hold anything back after that.
  • by thales ( 32660 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @04:49AM (#1087252) Homepage Journal
    For years, whenever hidden APIs have been mentioned, MS has claimed that "ALL the APIs have been published." In the unlikely event they were telling the truth, They are offering nothing. On the other hand, If they were lying, Then why should I beleave the new list is complete?
  • by iserlohn ( 49556 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @01:17AM (#1087253) Homepage
    You comments distort the truth almost to the extreme. You claim that keiretsu are a failed economic model. In fact keiretsu isn't a failed economic model; it isn't a economic model at all.

    The whole thing about the Japanese and the Americans in the late 70s and early 80s is that *America* was producing absolute crap, while the Japanese focused on quality, and sold them at low prices (with a little help from home of course).

    The main problem is that domestic American products were substancially inferious to imported goods. Take automobiles for example. I wouldn't want to own let's say a 1986 Chrysler Laser. It just doesn't run as good as let's say a 1984 Toyota Corolla.

    The last decade witnessed the largest turnaround in American manufacturing since the last world war. No longer does American companies settle for inferior products. Look at the cars that Chysler makes today and compare it to the junk it made 14 years ago. Lee Iccoa did make his mark by the emphasis on quality, and many American companies followed suit.

    The problem with keirusu is not that it doesn't work, because it works and it works very well in both the short and long run. The problem with keirusu is the affect it has on the consumer markets.

    Put it this way. Almost all keirusu would have a balance sheet firmly in the black. However, to achieve this and also achieve penetration pricing on significant breath of its product mix would require pricing the profit making products to include a very large profit margin to fund the products on promotion.

    This is what Japan did, and still does. Sony sells products in America with higher quality (in regards to competing American brands), at relatively reasonable prices. However, at home, back in Japan, the CPI is much higher and subsequently, the Japanese pay more money on average to live, than let's say Americans.

    Some American companies cried foul and took out their lawyers (typical American reaction) accusing Japanese firms of dumping. Most imported products however, do not sell below production costs, and dumping legislation is only a tactic domestic companies use to *protect* their market. In fact Americans do the same thing abroad.

    The problem is that putting a strain on your own economy to expand operations in another economy works well if your own economy is very strong. However, as anyone who has taken econ101 knows, there is this nasty pest called the business cycle, and because of this things get very complicated. So complicated in fact that tiny changes in the economic climate in either the home or expansion economy can cause widespread havoc on the cash flow of large corporations, since it is the large corporations that tend to run into cash flow problems when economies turn sour. When not just one, but many operating markets turns sour due to volatile stock markets and the numerous problems in the finance sector (as with the just-passed Asian Economic Crisis), you can be pretty sure that back at home in Japan they really weren't happy campers. Couple this with the fact that the economy was already in a slump due to the severe stagnation of the European markets and the American economy then just on the brink of a comeback.

    The problems that you tried to associate with keirusu is actually not their fault at all. In fact the problem is globalization. In fact it has happened more than 70 years before. When Wall street went down in the early 20th century, the impact was felt all over the world.

    You can compare extensive global economic interdependancy to Microsoft Windows. Sure its great and it gets things done quite well, but there are many things added on only as an afterthought. Think of a virtually non-existance security system for a operating system that was designed for '95 and you get the idea.
  • by kaniff ( 63108 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @04:27PM (#1087254) Homepage
    Why do we need to get a tag for our cars? And why does some silly piece of metal or some little sticker cost $40? I can see the value of the tag if our cars get stolen or for identification purposes for a cop, but why $40? and why renew it every year? You know why? Revenue...they want YOUR money.

    You're damn right they want your money. Most systems require revenue to operate. It doesn't cost $40 for the tag. BUT. That money pays for other systems to operate. And there are other costs that it pays for, services for you. Not just the ACTUAL tag. Why does a stamp cost 33 cents? Obviously that piece of sticky paper doesnt cost that much. It pays for them to bring your mail to your house. Think before you flame, dude.

    All of you praise the government because they're doing this to MS, well what they are doing is illegal and unethical. The last time I checked the country was built on capitalism and free enterprise. That means NO INTERFERENCE by the governemnt. Hence PRIVATE and FREE. If microsoft dominates the OS market, well good for them, and you know what?? THEY WORKED FOR IT.

    Last time I checked, this country hasn't functioned on pure market economy for a LONG time. Public schools, social security, and medicare are all not included in a market economy. Remember Standard Oil and more recently AT&T, I think that history without contest that they were absolutely taking advantage of their situation and that the government was in the right to intervene. I think if Mr. Rockefeller was still around today, you'd be paying a good bit more than a buck and a half for gas. The government is attempting to protect citizens from greedy corporate bastards. If you can think of a better method of doing it, please. Be my guest.

    Every week I work hard for my money only to have the government take an illegal portion of it. Oh, I know you'll say but its in the constitution. How many people do you know that can go in your pay check and take out money, other than yourself? The government is doing what normal citizens cant do legally, and frankly Im tired of it.

    Don't like it? Then vote for someone who can generate revenue without taxes. Or better yet, run yourself. If you can propose a better solution that would work, you'd have a my vote in a second. Do you honestly think that the government just takes all that money for no apparent reason? News flash, your police, your fire department, your EMS, your 911 system, your sewer system, your park service, your roads, your FDA, your FCC.. et cetera, et al, are ALL paid for by that chunk outa your paycheck. Bitch all you want, but the government is doing you a service in the end. It may not be perfect, but the government is of the people and by the people. You don't like it? Do something about it.

    So stop whining about some company doing god, if linux really wants to take over the market, and the companies that make linux really want to make a difference then they need to come together to form one company, instead of 10 different ones, and make a linux package that has the usability and user friendliness comparable to windows

    Would you make up your mind, please? In the last unorganized paragraph you have been spouting your anti-government blather in favor of competition and choice. And then you about face and suggest that Linux drop the choice of multiple distros that give people the choice to choose what suits them best, in favor of an all encompassing distro. I think not. Please check your posts for consistency.

    Let me point something out to you, which you may not have previously considered.
    CORPORATIONS DO NOT GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOU. ... unless you are an investor. Corporations only care about people with money. The government may not always have your best interest when they take 20% of your earnings, but they aren't out to take ALL of your money either. This however, is the entire premise of business. Get all of the consumer's money, using any means needed. The only thing that stops them is government. What do you think all that fine print is about? That's the stuff they don't want to tell you, because they are after your wallet, but Uncle Sam tells them they have to tell you. Reality check. We are living in a fairly good balance of government and business. Get used to it.
  • by dont_forget ( 71107 ) on Saturday May 06, 2000 @11:03PM (#1087255)
    This could end up opening up Windows to major virus attacks. Open sourcing a program/OS is good only if you their is a community of programers in the real world willing to improve the code on their own time. In other open source programs (linux, apache, sendmail) security flaws are addressed quickly, and fixed. This is because their is a large informed community that wants to improve the program for their own use. However the majority of the Windows community is uninformed at best, and have little or no knowledge of computer programing. Even if their was a large pool of programers willing to work on the source code, Microsoft doesn't have the mechanisms in place to implement their bug fixes.
  • by Syn.Terra ( 96398 ) on Saturday May 06, 2000 @08:48PM (#1087256) Homepage Journal
    I don't like Microsoft, or at least, their overly aggressive business practices. I believe that spliting the company is a better alternative than opening "parts" (yes, only sections "used by independent software companies to design their software applications to run on Windows") of the Windows source code.

    I said it so you don't have to.

    The thing is, having a monoply isn't illegal. Abusing a monopoly is, which Microsoft has blatantly done. The fact that people just accept the ILUVYOU virus is proof. Here's how splitting it in half will help:

    - On a Windows box, using any software that isn't made by Microsoft is a hinderance. It runs slower (see Netscape vs. IE), isn't as "integrated" (drag MS Word text into Eudora? Not likely.), and doesn't come "built in" (thanks, Compaq! Could you tell me what web sites to see too?).

    - Splitting the company in half will force them to no longer tie software in with their OS. Opening parts of the source gives people more of a chance, but I highly doubt we'll see a true competitor to Office on Win systems anytime soon, as long as it's all one company.

    - If the company is split up, only one of them will be allowed to say they "promote innovation for the benefit of consumers" and the other one gets to ridicule them for feeding us bullshit.

    Where's President Taft when you need him...

  • by fluxrad ( 125130 ) on Saturday May 06, 2000 @09:04PM (#1087257) Homepage
    You folks have to look at the REAL effect this is going to have on the world. You'll have to realize that while everyone who reads /. knows what open source source is actually all about, the vast majority of the general computer using public does not.

    While this (microsoft's half-assed open sourcing scheme) isn't exactly the greatest thing to ever happen to the computer using public, the true value is that it opens Joe Schmoe's eyes to what open source is all about. More people will have a slightly larger interest in "this new fangled open source thingamijig."

    I reall don't care what MS does/impliments because i don't use windows...but i have the nagging feeling this may actually enlighten some people and increase that "other" operating system's user base. ;-)


    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday May 06, 2000 @08:39PM (#1087258) Homepage
    What parts would these be? Something good I assume. Like maybe those MSN channels. Sure would like to see the source code there. How about that Outlook code; I mean, I have like 50 iluvyou viruses (virii? virons?) on my linux box, pine didn't trigger any of them. I felt left out.
  • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Sunday May 07, 2000 @06:32AM (#1087259) Homepage Journal
    Quoth the poster (quoting the dictionary):
    [welfare:] the state of doing well especially in respect to good fortune,
    happiness, well-being, or prosperity
    Remedying social ills doesn't lead to general happiness or well-being? So it's OK to dump carcinogens into rivers and lakes, since that's the cheapest way for a business to dispose of them? After all, the government shouldn't try to, say, safeguard public health.

    And why does some silly piece of metal or some little sticker cost $40?
    Why does a silly piece of plastic (read: CD) cost $0.001 to produce and sell for $20? Because -- the corporatist apologists would have you believe -- there are other costs to be recouped to make the system work. Sort of like generating revenue for a government agency to do its job.

    The last time I checked the country was built on capitalism and free enterprise. That means NO INTERFERENCE by the governemnt. Hence PRIVATE and FREE.
    (a) "Capitalism" doesn't necessarily mean no government oversight.

    (b) Neither this country (US) nor any other has actually ever functioned as a purely economic "free market" society, for the simple reason that such societies cannot function.

    (c) The market is not a governor, it's a tool. There are values other than economic value. One of the roles of government -- perhaps its greatest role in the 21st century -- is to ensure that other human values are not subsumed into and subjugated by economic values. It is good to be prosperous. It is not worth the price of your soul to be prosperous.

    By no means do I believe that government is always the guy in the white hats, or that government suffers from no venality, corruption, or stupidity, or that a functioning and free society requires checks on the government. All these are true. But it is intellectually disingenuous to claim that the only options are "no government" and "all government".

    Elsewise, why can't I shoot you driving down the street? You're not on your property, and hey, I own the gun and bullet -- why can't I do what I want with them?

    The government is doing what normal citizens cant do legally, and frankly Im tired of it.
    The government is not "normal citizens". It is (in theory) an agency for the common will of those citizens. Of course it has abilities and powers different from an individual. It has restrictions not found on "normal citizens" as well. So what?

    It seems a large fraction of slashdot readers believe that any government is automatically bad government. I'm sorry, but they're wrong. Government has a role to play ... a part of that role is exactly to ameliorate the excesses of private industry.

  • I notice the article only says "parts of the Windows operating system code used by independent software companies to design their software applications to run on Windows." Especially given that qualification, I wonder what counts as "parts". Header files? Tiny bits of APIs that aren't part of the core OS?

    Businesses might be happy, because they can write programs that further extend their tentacles into the system, but hackers will still be disappointed. And Windows will be as unstable as ever.

  • by Shaheen ( 313 ) on Saturday May 06, 2000 @09:47PM (#1087261) Homepage
    I really believe that opening up APIs will help, but not in a "right here, right now" fashion. It will take many years for developers to catch up to Microsoft, and by then MS will have developed a new operating system with many more functions built in.

    However, here's a small look at Windows' hidden APIs:

    • The Run dialog box in explorer is hidden. To this day, there is no export for it from any shared library, and is still often evoked by creating a function pointer to the address and calling it.
    • The Shutdown dialog is another one
    • Countless others

    These are really things you would think would be readily available to other developers. they are not. It pisses me off being a shell developer [] and not knowing what function to call to get something to work (even though I know the functionality exists, since I see it every day).

    IMO, I really think this would help. However, MS will find a way to make it really hard to find anyway. For instance, just publish the API that gets revealed right along with the current API. "Huh? That's what I'd expect!" Okay, answer me this: How in the world are you going to tell the difference and find new functionality which you really didn't see before? There's probably around a few thousand functions hanging around in the Win32 API, and it'll be pretty difficult to find that hidden API you were looking for a year ago. And by the time you find it, it will most likely be obsolete due to a new operating system.
  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Saturday May 06, 2000 @09:10PM (#1087262)
    Just lastnight, during a conversation with a co-worker, I was educated on a Japanese term called Keiretsu []. The basic definition is 'A corporate, cartel, or conglomerate..

    Keiretsu is a business concept barrowed from Japan where a number of companies (who are not competitors) have a common interest and therefore form an association to leverage mutual business development and cross sales. These associations rarely have the formality of either a partnership or joint venture, and are often founded on bonds of family or traditional alliances from the past. Kiretsus can manifest themselves in a number of ways, including preferential rates, cross referrals, exchange of competitive and market intelligence.

    I see this as the future (actually, the present if you look at their posessions and investments) of Microsoft, should it be forced to split.

    Much more information on Keiretus is available at trac/feature/planet/japan_k.html []

    Also see ml [] ssue51/american.html []

  • This is just Microsoft scrambling to do anything to deflect the coming storm. They lost in court and here rather soon they are either going to be broken up, or face heavy sanctions.

    If they were to actually release the code in some way, it would be nothing more than a trap. Old scratch may be the craftiest devil of all, but the imps at Microsoft sure give him a run for his money.

    At this point in the game I wouldn't do anything other than ignore this. They've been intentionally leaking rumors about opening up the source code for windows for a long time now. Anything they say to the media is soley to manipulate public opinion.

  • does anyone else remember something from history class, about the civil rights movement?

    it seems to me that when the supreme court finally got around to racially intergrating public schools, the legalleese included the term "in due time," which some schools interperted as "years from now." these schools managed to keep intergration on the bottom of their to-do lists for a very long time.

    now don't get me wrong. i'm not saying that this microsoft bull is nearly as important or as vicious as the antiblack sentieent held by the courts and schools of that time, but the tactics imployed certianly do smell familiar.
  • From a purely selfish perspective (i.e. not considering whether the government has a right to interfere at all,) this is probably my second favorite remedy. My first choice would be splitting MS into a systems company and an applications company. I'm happy (and very surprised) that those seem to be the two options that the court is seriously considering.
    First of all, I don't think we have to question whether the government has a "right" to interfere. It's already interfering with our ability to make copies of MS Windows. MS is granted by governments an artifical monopoly on the Windows distribution game solely for social benefit -- anything MS does to hurt society... let them give up copyright before they start to whine. Copyright is supposed to make an altruistic activity profitable, not make a selfish activity more profitable. There'd be no point in violating peoples' rights to peacefully make copies of MS Windows to do that.

    Second, regarding the proposed solutions. I'm sure it might have benefits, but it still misses the core of the problem. MS's monopoly is in *DESKTOP OS*. They are leveraging this monopoly as we speak to promote their server OS with Kerberos as well as with applications and protocols. This is less important from most peoples' points of view, where servers are ignored unless they're down, and even then it's a clueless "my computer's broken". We at slashdot know better. Allowing MS to leverage its current desktop monopoly to get a server monopoly in the future could have horrendous impact on computing in the long-term.

    Breaking up a desktop OS corp separate from the server OS corp would probably be far too difficult and expensive. Making source available under NDA or without allowing redistribution of modifications would wouldn't necessarily solve the problem. Making it available as free software is just not going to happen. What we need to do is force all MS desktop OSs to be standards-compliant whenever possible, and force all non-standard protocols and APIs (and fileformats, etc) to be open and non-obfuscated, for at least a few more years. (It'd be great to do that for *all* MS products, but they don't have a monopoly in any others, so perhaps it wouldn't be fair. Feh.) Maybe that's just about as unlikely as freeing the source... but if it or something more drastic doesn't happen, I think MS is going to continue fucking its customers in the ass for quite a while longer.

  • by muldrake ( 171275 ) on Saturday May 06, 2000 @09:21PM (#1087266) Homepage Journal

    My first choice would be splitting MS into a systems company and an applications company. I'm happy (and very surprised) that those seem to be the two options that the court is seriously considering.

    I've been generally impressed by the rulings of Judge Jackson in this case. I knew he knew what he was doing when during the course of the pretrial hearings he was told that it would be impossible to remove IE from Win95 without completely crippling the system, and he went home and did it himself, then returned to the court with harsh words for Microsoft. He was not also terribly impressed by the way they broke a consent decree arrived at in an earlier case. I don't think he's going to be bamboozled by their bafflegab.

    My initial impression that Judge Jackson knew what he was doing was confirmed by the fin ding of fact [] and then the dec ision []. The proposal [] to split up Microsoft into two companies is also well-considered.

    While I generally am leery of government interference in business, this case clearly involves blatant antitrust violations and is precisely what the Sherman Act was drafted to prevent.

    As for Microsoft's whining about "innovation," and how this damages their right to "innovate," I hardly see how ripping off betas of your competitors' products, reverse-engineering them, then sending out goons to force computer manufacturers to use them constitutes "innovation." At most it is an "innovative" form of racketeering.

    To be honest, I don't think the remedy goes far enough. I'd like to see Microsoft split up into about a dozen corporations. However, I'll readily confess that this is based more on blind hatred and animosity toward Microsoft than any valid legal reasoning.

    After all, they are the enemy [].

  • by thechink ( 182419 ) on Saturday May 06, 2000 @09:14PM (#1087267)

    TOP SECRET Microsoft(c) Code
    Project: Chicago(tm)
    Projected release-date: Summer 1998

    #include "win31.h"
    #include "win95.h"
    #include "evenmore.h"
    #include "oldstuff.h"
    #include "billrulz.h"
    #define INSTALL = HARD

    char make_prog_look_big[1600000];

    void main()
    if (first_time_installation)
    if (still_not_crashed)

    if (detect_cache())

    if (fast_cpu())
    set_mouse(speed, very_slow);
    set_mouse(action, jumpy);
    set_mouse(reaction, sometimes);

    /* printf("Welcome to Windows 3.11"); */
    /* printf("Welcome to Windows 95"); */
    printf("Welcome to Windows 98");
    if (system_ok())
    system_memory = open("a:\swp0001.swp", O_CREATE);


    (Thanks to the 4 Guys from Rolla)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 06, 2000 @08:40PM (#1087268)
    Now I can improve my code by reading the work of masters! Begone, bugs!
  • by unc_onnected ( 6084 ) on Saturday May 06, 2000 @11:06PM (#1087269)
    im sorry dude, thats not true.

    keiretsu in japan (and their equivalents in many other countries) work because of the relative weakness of shareholder rights. that is to say, if one corporation acts in a way to benefit another at direct or indirect cost to itself, in the US lawsuits can and will get filed. quid pro quo, when formalized, are not the same thing. then they become contracts.

    japan was criticized by american companies during the 80s for presenting a kind of "united front", if you will, against foreign companies. that is, they banded together, offered one another specific business preferences, etc just because they were japanese, with the understanding (but no guarantee) that they would receive preferential treatment in turn.

    well, as it turns out, that kind of thing doesnt work in the long-run. (breeds inefficiency, cronyism, and was a major cause of the asian economic crash). it cant happen in the united states because companies are forced to be relatively open if theyre big enough to sell stock, and because greedy shareholders (remember them?) will DEMAND that they make as much money as they can.

    look at the "wintel" thing for example. intel and microsoft looked like they were presenting a united front, but we know now that they feared and hated each other all along, and as soon as there was a chance intel broke with them and cooperated with linux people.

    the same with dell and compaq, who definitely have a longstanding and important relationship with microsoft but werent above stabbing em in the back introducing linux-based servers even while testifying in court how great windows is. cooperation in US businesses is almost always based on immediately obvious mutual benefit, exploitation of someone else, or fear. only one of these is a balance between equals, and isnt really cooperation in the strict sense of the word.

    the bottom line is that keiretsu are a failed economic model, and that the comparatively rigorous reqt's of doing business in the US discourage them anyway. also, collusion in the united states is a major crime which is fairly prosecutable, and the penalties for collusion can be high enough to knock you out of business.(to say nothing of the drop in your stock it would cause).

  • by jetson123 ( 13128 ) on Saturday May 06, 2000 @09:27PM (#1087270)
    I think it's pretty clear what this proposal comes down to. You'd get additional parts of code from the MFC and a few other libraries on request, or perhaps bundled with your MSDN subscription. The license would prohibit you from doing anything with that code other than use it to write Windows applications. Contamination clauses would likely explicitly prohibit you from working on projects like Wine if you as much as opened it. And the code you got would not be compilable into anything like a replacement of system DLLs, something the license would prohibit you from anyway. And, of course, there really isn't any way for anybody to verify that they are complying.

    Any proposal to open Windows source code, even one that would be much more significant than Microsoft's, would ultimately only help Microsoft by making their APIs and software even more entrenched. Their proposal is by far the sweetest deal for them. In fact, it doesn't even represent a big change from existing practice: almost any Windows software company can get lots of Windows source code anyway if they ask.

    The only way I can see to get Microsoft to document their APIs and to ensure that they aren't holding back is to break them into multiple OS and multiple application companies and to limit the ability of those companies to establish exclusive contracts with one another.

    Microsoft hates that because it would finally bring up their costs to everybody else's: their current approach has allowed them to cut corners on interoperability and documentation, which saved them money and cut time to market, while at the same time excluding competitors. It's been a sweet deal for them, and it is precisely this conduct that needs to be addressed. A breakup with operating restrictions would create the economic necessity for Microsoft to do this. Any other remedy will just let them weasel out and involve endless debates among regulators and Microsoft about the intricacies of software design. In fact, we tried that before and it didn't work.

  • by kaphka ( 50736 ) <> on Saturday May 06, 2000 @08:47PM (#1087271)
    Stop me if I'm wrong, but I don't think MS is talking about "open source" in any sense; they're talking about opening the Windows APIs, i.e. giving outside developers the same access that the Office developers have. The press constantly confuses "open source" and "open APIs", in their attempts to stupidify news about the MS case.

    From a purely selfish perspective (i.e. not considering whether the government has a right to interfere at all,) this is probably my second favorite remedy. My first choice would be splitting MS into a systems company and an applications company. I'm happy (and very surprised) that those seem to be the two options that the court is seriously considering.
  • by Huusker ( 99397 ) on Saturday May 06, 2000 @09:44PM (#1087272) Homepage

    Under the proposal, Microsoft would be required to provide open, timely and complete access to the parts of the Windows operating system code used by independent software companies to design their software applications to run on Windows.

    "See we're giving our competitors exactly the same information our own apps developers have!" This is, to say it politely, bullshit. The Win32 API specs are carefully crafted to be incomplete. They tell you just enough to get locked in to Windows, but not enough to actually make a product that would compete with Microsoft. The apps developers in Redmond have direct access to the OS development team and can obtain detailed specs on DFS/COM+/LSA/ADSI/DHTML or whatever new whiz-bang technology is needed to beat the competition.

    Several people (Andrew Schulman 1995, et al) have suggested for a long time that a Chinese Wall should go up between the Apps team and the OS team. All communication that goes over the wall should be made public.

    My background is security, so I can give you some classic examples of almost-but-not-quite documented APIs that cripple attempts to compete with Microsoft:

    • CreateProcessAsUser() Essential for creating a telnetd, rshd, rlogin, etc. Hidden to prevent competitors from creating multi-user applications on NT. Finally published circa 1998 after reverse-engineering results were widely published.
    • NtCreateProcessToken() Essential for simulating setuid() in a Unix compatibility library. Still undocumentated.
    • The subsystem API (CSRSS, CSRSRV, etc) Essential for simulating fork() in a Unix compatibility library. Still undocumented.
    • InitializeSecurityContext() and AcceptSecurityContext() Essential for doing transparent authentication (e.g. Internet Explorer can access private web pages without prompting you for your password.) Netscape still cannot do this, they prompt for passwords in base64 cleartext (even today!). At best partially and inaccurrately documented.
    • NTLM RPC API Essential for doing DC operations to manage domain accounts. With this Samba could eliminate the need for NT Server. Still undocumented.

    Microsoft will only release enough information to ensnare users into the Windows environment. To publish API information that would give a competitor an advantage would be over their dead body.

  • by ruin ( 141833 ) on Saturday May 06, 2000 @08:48PM (#1087273) Homepage
    My favorite part is the quote on the sidebar:

    'The DOJ plan would effectively reduce Windows to a small core of low-level functionality that performs only the most basic operations.'

    Basic operations? You mean like acting as a virtual machine to run programs on, and controlling the computer's resources? It's funny because the DOJ has to tell Microsoft how to write an operating system.


  • I know all of you Open Source, anti-Micro$oft people are having a field day, but have you thought of the downside to this?

    If the Windows API's are open to everyone, someone could use them to put a program into an innocent looking e-Mail that could be opened by a Macro reader in Outlook, and could then go through the system, ruining any kind of mpeg or jpeg file.

    I think all you open source people really have to consider the security risks that could come up if just anybody was allowed to look into the guts of the otherwise safe, stable and secure Windows Platform.

In English, every word can be verbed. Would that it were so in our programming languages.