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Judge Says Microsoft Must Give States Windows Code 610

murphro (along with many others) writes, "Reuters is posting a story describing how the Judge has ordered the release of Windows code to the states seeking antitrust sanctions. I doubt it will actually happen (because MS will fight it this to the end). But if it did, do you think we commoners would ever see it? And if you did get your hands on the code, what would you do with it?" Here's the Yahoo link. (The same Reuters story is on dozens of other sites, too.)
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Judge Says Microsoft Must Give States Windows Code

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  • yes! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 16, 2002 @08:28AM (#3017540)
    we can finally get Lotus Notes to work right!
    • Lotus notes server runs fine on Linux and the Notes client works fine through Wine. Of course, getting the code would make the notes client run better, but it still runs today nonetheless.
  • by oozer ( 132881 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @08:31AM (#3017545)
    Port it to linux :)
    • I think the WINE and Lindows people would have a field day with it.
  • Wow! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Arminius ( 84868 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @08:33AM (#3017547) Homepage
    This is incredible!
    You know the source would leak out. Maybe someone could steal a copy and give it to Linus so he could fix it!
  • "One interesting aspect of the judge's order is that the States are specifically being given access to Windows XP embedded code, as they are of the view that this particular class of Windows can be used to show that Windows can be customised. The Register's view is that embedded versions of Windows are considerably less customised and embedded than Microsoft actually lets on, but we'll see."

    and of course they'll fight it tooth and nail.
  • Hopefully not. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sly Mongoose ( 15286 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @08:36AM (#3017555) Homepage
    From the moment the Windows source was made available for viewing (probably not under a GLP-style license!) any code that interacts with Windows (think Samba) would be tainted. It would be under threat of charges that it as derived from the proprietary code.
    • Re:Hopefully not. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by interiot ( 50685 )
      As soon as it's released into the wild though (eg. you don't have to sign an NDA to see it, etc. etc...), it's no longer a trade secret, so it no longer has the power to taint?
  • fix linux drivers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dy_dx ( 131159 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @08:38AM (#3017560)
    if the source ever made into the linux community's hands (which i find highly unlikely), i think the first thing to happen would be to see exactly how proprietary windows formats work.
    i.e. look at how windows implements NTFS, etc. and write linux drivers that are less of a guess.
  • by dmoen ( 88623 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @08:39AM (#3017563) Homepage
    This is not a lead up to the release of Windows as open source code.

    As I read the article, the only thing the states will be able to do with the source is verify whether or not it is possible to unbundle Internet Explorer from the rest of the operating system. Microsoft says this is impossible; everybody else knows they're lying, but the proof is in the source code.
    • by tweakt ( 325224 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @09:08AM (#3017624) Homepage
      Of course it's possible. It's already been done.

      This program [] does a nice job. Back when this case was actually started it was very easy to nuke IE and and have very light and clean OS, despite microsoft's claims that it was part of the core os (as if it was implemented in the kernel.. ha!)

      Now it seems as of Win2K SP2, IEEradictor no longer works. I'm sure thats just due to changes in the way IE is added in, and with a little work probably could be made to work again. But I think this case is in regards to Windows 95, back when microsoft got on the warpath for browser dominance .

      • by FatRatBastard ( 7583 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @09:20AM (#3017656) Homepage
        The "IE is an integral part of the OS" arguement has always made me chuckle. Its true only because Microsoft has designed it that way, which doesn't necessarily make it right.

        The most damning evidence that a browswer doesn't have to be so close to the kernel (in the kernel???) is IE for Macintosh. Its a damn fine browser that is nothing more than a standalone app. Sure, Microsoft bitches that IE is needed for product updates and help, but that is -- again -- only by MS design. Apple, Debian, Mandrake, et al have all shown that updating can also be a stand alone application. And Gnome and (I assume) KDE have shown you can have HTML help with a regular app browser.

        The contention that IE is neccessary for the OS to run properly is true, but only because MS specifically designed it that way. I've always found the arguement "hey, we're guilty but we can't seperate IE from the OS because its too deeply tied together" the same as Firestone saying "hey, we know we produced crap tires, but we shouldn't have to change the way we made 'em because that would require retooling the tire production line."
      • I think we need a few more programs like IEEradicator. Microsoft have already produced enough of thier own versions to spare.

        Let's just think of the various MS programs and what they hoped to achieve:

        DOS = CP/M Eradicator
        W3.x = DOS App Eradicator
        W95 = OS/2 Eradicator
        W98 (with IE) = Netscape Eradicator
        NT4 = Novell Eradicator
        Office DLL/kernel integration = Wordperfect/Quattro Pro/Dbase Eradicator
        Visual Studio = Borland Eradicator
        W2K Server = Samba Eradicator (not while I'm alive!)
        Media Player = RealPlayer Eradicator
        XP = Privacy and "Fair use" Eradicator
        • by jd142 ( 129673 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @10:48AM (#3017919) Homepage

          Media Player = RealPlayer Eradicator

          The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Anything that will wipe realplayer, a really nasty piece of work, from the world is a good thing. It causes more problems and is more bloated than any other piece of software since WP.

          • personally, i never cared for real player either... but shortly after i tried wmp7 i promotly got rid of it for the same reasons i got rid of real player... i've been using wmp6.4 since...

            the enemy of my enemy is just as bad as my enemy

            so now we have two irritating bloated programs that are trying to take over the media sphere...
      • that and in windows XP it's even in the ADD/REMOVE Programs.
  • by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 ) <{gorkon} {at} {}> on Saturday February 16, 2002 @08:42AM (#3017571)
    Would the code then not be part of public record?? That should mean anyone should be able to look at it at that point. But I am also hazarding that they may have a problem finding some parts of the code. Almost every mid to large sized company always has something that can't be recompiled.
    • by mESSDan ( 302670 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @08:53AM (#3017595) Homepage
      You are wrong. A judge's order to release the code in no way puts it into the public domain, or part of the public record. (IANAL)

      As for not finding some parts of the code, simply provide a court order to one of the universities [] who already have it.

      • by teaserX ( 252970 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @09:10AM (#3017633) Homepage Journal
        IANAL either but I think the code *would* be public record but kept as a sealed document, ie. public record exempt from public disclosure.
      • Absolutely. I asked my computer support group (CSG) at my university and apparently, our department has cheap(/free?) licenses to all sorts of MS products such as Visual Studio, Win 2000 etc. etc. AND I was told we also had the source code to some of these products! Unfortunately, they are under a strict licence so the likes of me can't just waltz in and take a copy. What it does mean is that
        • The court request is perfectly reasonable
        • Source won't become public domain
        • Microsoft might not actually fight it!
        • If the courts feel so inclined, they could hassle a university for the "evidence"
        • I'm really amazed that none of the code given to the universities has leaked. It seems like it would be so easy to get an anonymously leaked copy out onto the net, where it would (obviously) immediately be mirrored by thousands of servers around the world, loaded into Freenet, etc.

          I'm certainly not advocating that anyone leak the code, but I am curious: Does anyone know what protectections universities are required to put in place to prevent leakage? Do they use a canary trap (easy to do with code, just make slight modifications to a set of variable names) or some such? How is it that they've managed to maintain an apparently perfect security record while distributing the code to over 100 universities?

  • by Spoing ( 152917 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @08:42AM (#3017573) Homepage
    ...would do; they would use it as evidence in law suits against Microsoft. With the source code as evidence, they could find the convienent places where the code did wierd things.

    Didn't an NT fix pack a while ago prevent Lotus Notes server from working? What's this about Netscape era seiniew? There's got to be current things that are more than just screwups or inside jokes. MS has a long track record of this sort of thing.

    Now, the only question is; Can the source be siezed to prevent modification? Is it too late already?

    • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @11:22AM (#3018052)
      "Didn't an NT fix pack a while ago prevent Lotus Notes server from working?"

      NT4 SP6 caused Lotus to stop working because it prevented non-Administrators from opening a Winsock connection.

      This security access problem also caused issues with a great many other applications, not just Notes.

      It was also fixed within a day.

      There is an old saying, "Don't contribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence." It continues to amaze me how whiners continue looking for ghosts in the shadows instead of just understanding the technical issues, realizing people make mistakes and moving on.
      • Thanks for the details.

        On the 'whining' part, you do realize that there are many dirty tricks MS has been shown to do in the past.

        The Notes/NT issue not being one of them doesn't discount the saying "Windows isn't done till Lotus doesn't run". Lotus, in that instance, being the once #1 Lotus 123.

  • by pkplex ( 535744 )
    I wonder which will embarass MS more, that they might finally be pushed around by someone more powerfull than them, or, the source code its self? :)
  • As useful as... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ozan ( 176854 )
    giving Leonardo Photoshop to paint the Mona Lisa. Without the aid of technical experts no one will get the clue in millions of lines of sourcecode.
    • by Nindalf ( 526257 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @09:25AM (#3017671)
      They'll produce an IE-less Windows, and an installer for IE. They'll demonstrate it in court. It'll work fine. It will turn out to not be all that hard. Furthermore, the state programmers will point out that it would not have been significantly more difficult or costly to do that way than the integrated way. MS will not be able to rebut this to the satisfaction of the court. MS representatives will be found guilty of perjury. The judge will order them squished with an enormous gavel.

      At least, I think that is what they had in mind when they asked for it. I guess we'll see.
  • BFD. (Score:3, Funny)

    by rtscts ( 156396 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @08:46AM (#3017581)
    It's not like there's Indiana Jones/Golden Eye style boobytraps/keys guarding the source []..
    • Re:BFD. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by timdorr ( 213400 )

      If that's really the whole source code, how come this hasn't cropped up on warez site, or various underground trading methods?

      I mean, that'd be rather nice bartering material for some people I know.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 16, 2002 @08:52AM (#3017594)
    Line 1171, url.cpp

    // we stuck this code in here to shaft netscape

  • Purpose (Score:3, Informative)

    by pergamon ( 4359 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @08:53AM (#3017597) Homepage
    Before everyone offers clever comments about what they'll do with the source code when they get it, note that individual average citizens won't be getting the source code (at least not as a result of this ruling, except in the case of leaks). They're not talking about handing over the code so everyone can see it, it is only to be used for a specific purpose by specific people. The "states" will get it, meaning the people representing the states involved in the case such as the attorney generals, other lawyers, and most importantly expert witnesses. They're not getting access to the source code to determine whether it sucks or to help the Samba team out, but only to determine the validity of one specific argument made by MS:
    Nine state attorneys general had argued that they needed to see the Windows source code in order to verify Microsoft's claim it could not offer a simpler version of the Windows personal computer operating system, stripped of features like the Internet Explorer browser.
    • Re:Purpose (Score:2, Interesting)

      by matrix29 ( 259235 )
      Before everyone offers clever comments about what they'll do with the source code when they get it, note that individual average citizens won't be getting the source code (at least not as a result of this ruling, except in the case of leaks). They're not talking about handing over the code so everyone can see it, it is only to be used for a specific purpose by specific people. The "states" will get it, meaning the people representing the states involved in the case such as the attorney generals, other lawyers, and most importantly expert witnesses. They're not getting access to the source code to determine whether it sucks or to help the Samba team out, but only to determine the validity of one specific argument made by MS:

      Even worse (I'm dead serious right now) Microsoft can leak some code secretly, blame the code examiners, and then claim the case has hurt them and file for damages. They can also stop the state programmers from examining further code this way.

      The only way to stop this is to make the code PUBLIC for everyone to see. If they don't Microsoft will do their standard dirty tricks and poison the case again.
  • Seriously, forcing Microsoft to be "Open Source" is probably a mistake. Not only because of the precedent it sets, but more importantly because of all the new virii we will be getting once people see all the holes and back doors :)

  • by WasterDave ( 20047 ) <(moc.pekdez) (ta) (pevad)> on Saturday February 16, 2002 @09:00AM (#3017609)
    Should that be U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the patron saint of Microsoft bashers?

  • by Knunov ( 158076 ) <eat@my.ass> on Saturday February 16, 2002 @09:02AM (#3017613) Homepage
    Go to CNN.COM [] and scroll down to the bottom of the main page.

    On the bottom right there is a poll asking the question, "Was a judge correct in ordering Microsoft to reveal the coding for its Windows program?"

    As of a couple minutes ago, 69% of respondants were saying 'NO'. That majority is probably comprised of clueless MS users and a voting bot running at Redmond right now, but still.

    And no, 'Cowboy Neal' is not a choice.


    • by Corrado ( 64013 ) <> on Saturday February 16, 2002 @09:20AM (#3017655) Homepage Journal
      You know, I am an *AVID* OSS support and a vocal Microsoft disident, but I'm not sure I would vote the way you think I should. I mean what use do we get out of knowing that Microsoft was lying about being able to unbundle IE -- it's already proven that they are liers! How much proof do we need!

      I fear that opening the source will give MS grounds to complain about all those OSS projects that are "stealing" their code (assuming it gets leaked). What kind of trouble can they cause us? Microsoft is *very* crafty, who knows what they will do next!

      I think the best course of action is something like what RedHat proposed. Make them pay a *lot* of cash money to the school system. This money would be used to purchase any non-MS hardware/software (i.e. iMacs) and to support competetion.

      No solution is perfect, but I'm not sure I want MS source code "in the wild".
      • It won't be "in the wild". This article is only talking about it being available to states attorneys and others involved in the case, not the general public.
        • It won't be "in the wild". This article is only talking about it being available to states attorneys and others involved in the case, not the general public.

          Cowflop. Once the source is out, it's out. Someone somewhere will leak it (just to friends, of course). Might take 3 days, maybe a week, but it _will_ get leaked to warez.

          I hope this ruling will be upheld, but it will likely add another item to the dictionary definition of "open source." I'd like to see the looks on Stallman's and Raymond's faces.

          It's the best thing Microsoft might do to disrupt the free-software / open-source community. I mean, we'll all be throwing up and laughing hysterically by turns, for weeks!
      • Would they still be complaining though, when someone organized a few skilled coders and find some serious holes in Windows that haven't surfaced yet, and send a fix to MS to include in a patch? I wouldn't think so.
    • Gee mabye microsoft is rigging the pole, nahhh MS would never do anything that cheap would they?
    • by MongooseCN ( 139203 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @10:33AM (#3017871) Homepage
      So isn't this just like MS telling all their employees to vote for Microsoft in that last poll? Now we are telling everyone on slashdot to go out and vote and slashdot is comprised mostly of anti-Microsoft people.
      • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @10:40AM (#3017891) Homepage Journal
        Blockquoth the poster:

        So isn't this just like MS telling all their employees to vote for Microsoft in that last poll?

        Um, only if you receive your livelihood from slashdot and also had reason to believe that a failure to vote "correctly" would impact your career. The issue is not that Microsoft tells its people about a poll. The issue is, Microsoft can -- implicitly, at least -- coerce them to vote a certain way.
        • "that a failure to vote "correctly" would impact your career."

          But doesn't it?

          If you've bet your career on Linux, and the market is continuing to move away from Unix towards Windows... isn't your career quickly becoming irrelevant?

          Even ignoring that issue, you have the one of support of someone's favorite niche OS. Most anti-MS people on /. appear to believe that they can destroy Microsoft, and the result will be that their favorite niche will become the new leader.

          Face it, anti-MS people are just as motivated by financial gain as pro-MS people.
    • That is what is know as a leading question. Phrased like that it sounds as if Microsoft will lose control of the code.

      A better phrasing would have been "Was the judge correct in ordering Microsoft to reveal the coding for its Windows program to the States' AGs".

      No wonder a majority is voting 'No' on that poll. It is blatantly phrased to generate a pro-Microsoft outcome. Strange from an AOL/TW owned website.

      • A better phrasing would have been "Was the judge correct in ordering Microsoft to reveal the coding for its Windows program to the States' AGs".

        How about "Was the judge correct in allowing the states to look at the code for Windows?" That's what the issue really is here. MS is making claims about the ease of doing things with its code, but doesn't want anyone to be able to look at the code and judge for themselves how true those claims are. The states are essentially asking for a chance to look themselves, and the judge has accepted their argument. It's a basic issue of fairness, IMO; if MS wants to make claims based on the code, the code must be available as evidence to refute (or support) those claims.

    • No, that's probably pretty accurate. The majority of Americans, especially those in "fly-over country" consider Bill Gates to be a hero.

      Bill Gates pissed off the government elites by not paying attention to them. His enemies who knew how to "work the system" used that power to go after him. This is a fine example of why we need some kind of campaign finance reform (but not the version that was passed in the House a few days ago--it's got constitutional issues).

      There are plenty of companies that engage in practices much worse than anything MS did, but they know how to grease the works.

  • It would be a part of Public Record, and if somehow it was not, one could allways use the Freedom of Information Act, because it would be goverment property. Ya know, I remember that somebody once made the point that anything used by our goverment is then goverment property, and can be requested using the freedom of information act. So, Anybody feel like using the Freedom of Information Act to get all the lisence keys for i dunno, some lame department that is never up to any good?
    • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @10:57AM (#3017957) Homepage Journal
      Blockquoth the poster:

      So, Anybody feel like using the Freedom of Information Act to get all the lisence keys for i dunno, some lame department that is never up to any good?

      Not feasible. A quick check at EFF turned up A Citizen's Guide to FOIA [], which in turn gives some pointers:

      The FOIA requires agencies to publish or make available for public inspection several types of information. This includes:
      (1) descriptions of agency organization and office addresses; (2) statements of the general course and method of agency operation; (3) rules of procedure and descriptions of forms; (4) substantive rules of general applicability and general policy statements; (5) final opinions made in the adjudication of cases; and (6) administrative staff manuals that affect the public. This information must either be published in the Federal Register or made available for inspection and copying without the formality of an FOIA request.

      All other "records" of a federal agency may be requested under the FOIA. However, the FOIA does not define "record". Any item containing information that is in the possession, custody, or control of an agency is usually considered to be an agency record under the FOIA. Personal notes of agency employees may not be agency records. A document that is not an "record" will
      not be available under the FOIA.

      But later, we find

      Of course, not all records that can be requested must be disclosed. Information that is exempt from disclosure is described below in the section entitled "Reasons Access May Be Denied Under the FOIA".

      And later

      An agency may refuse to disclose an agency record that falls within any of the FOIA's nine statutory exemptions. The exemptions protect against the disclosure of information that
      would harm national defense or foreign policy, privacy of individuals, proprietary interests of business, functioning of the government, and other important interests....
      • Exemption 1: Classified Documents
      • Exemption 2: Internal Personnel Rules and Practices
      • Exemption 3: Information Exempt Under Other Laws
      • Exemption 4: Confidential Business Information
      • Exemption 5: Internal Government Communications
      • Exemption 6: Personal Privacy
      • Exemption 7: Law Enforcement
      • Exemption 8: Financial Institutions
      • Exemption 9: Geological Information

      As an aside, that last one is the oddest, IMHO:

      The ninth FOIA exemption covers geological and geophysical information, data, and maps about wells. This exemption is rarely used.

      Strange, although one imagines this might take on new significance in the post-9/11 world.
  • Which version? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by EboMike ( 236714 )
    The article talks about the "latest code" of Windows. What version is that? An actual release version or the current version? If the latter, MS have plenty of time to modify it at will and remove whatever they consider "not suitable for the public".

    Hey, that reminds me. Our publisher once thought about forcing us to hand over the code of a product and we planned to write a tool that would remove ALL comments from the code and substitute all variable names with random alphanumeric strings as well as seriously misformatting all sources. Never happened of course, but we had a great time designing the features of this utility.

  • by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @09:14AM (#3017642) Homepage Journal
    I would already have realised that I might have to give up the source code to win9x. I woudl have had a secret cabal of top programmers going through it obfuscating and repairing deliberatly anti-competitive routines.

    Source code is also no good if it can't compile and be run. Do the state experts have the necessary compilers to do this? I bet it's not a vanilla MS-C or MS-C++. And we all know that you can't trust the compiler [].

    If you suspect that someone is untrustworthy then asking them for their written documentation of their untrustworthyness cannot be trusted.

    HA! They should use that as a defense!!

    I'm guilty but you can't take my word for it, I'm a liar.
  • Can of MS worms (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Unfallen ( 114859 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @09:21AM (#3017659) Homepage
    So it's finally been worked out that Microsoft's word (as opposed to (but not excluding) MS' Word[tm]) is not to be trusted, and that the only real way to settle this all properly is to see the case with the states' own eyes.

    At least two issues come out of this with regards the case though:

    1. How much can we trust Microsoft to hand over untampered code? If they had any sense (from their point of view) then they would have worked on a special branch of the code that was deliberately obfuscated and/or integrated, all ready to hand over if the time came. They'll still fight the order, naturally. But it always helps to be prepared for the worst.
    2. What are the chances of the States finding further anti-trust evidence? Fortunately IANAL. But does this news mean that they are only allowed to present excerpts and reasoning from the source code that is applicable to the integration issue, or are they allowed to bring other issues to light should they discover any?
  • by gclef ( 96311 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @09:23AM (#3017669)
    what would I do with it, you ask?

    cd /home/archives/windows/;grep -r strcpy * | more

    buffer overflows, here I come...
  • by p3d0 ( 42270 )
    This whole thing is retarded. Microsoft says "we are such poor coders that we have not made a clear interface between the browser and the rest of the system" and the government says "prove it". All they have to do is deliver a huge steaming pile of butt-ugly code.
    • All they have to do is deliver a huge steaming pile of butt-ugly code.

      In that case, the source to ANYTHING microsoft has written should do the trick ;)

  • by mjh ( 57755 ) <mark.hornclan@com> on Saturday February 16, 2002 @09:31AM (#3017687) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if the significance of the states asking for WinXP embedded is that they intend to show that Microsoft already has removed IE from windows.
    • The embedded work involves splitting Windows into various "components" (thousands I think) and then creating a list of dependencies so you know what has to be included if you want a system with a network stack, or that can run user-mode apps, or whatever. A component is one file, or a group of binaries that are for practical purposes indivisible.

      Now presumably if what Microsoft says is true, the states will discover that having a version of Windows with a GUI in it creates a dependency on including the IE code also. Since the main target for embedded Windows is systems that don't have a traditional display, thus optimizing how finely you can split out the GUI components is not a priority, I would assume that the whole GUI code is one big blob component with IE, GDI, etc, etc. all lumped together. Thus the states may be disappointed (although asking for the embedded code was a clever idea!).

      If not, <insert Twilight Zone music here>

      - adam

  • by brokeninside ( 34168 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @09:31AM (#3017690)
    My largest worry is that even if Microsoft hands over the source code, they will endeavor to make certain that that there is not really sufficient time for the plaintiffs to give it the going over that it needs.

    My second largest worry is that the attourneys general of the states will not be able to find the right people to give the code a good going over. HHopefully, someone on the caliber of Andrew Schulman [] who gave Microsoft an incredible amount of grief with Undocumented Windows 95 [] will agree to help out.

  • by znark ( 77857 )
    if you did get your hands on the code, what would you do with it?
    • Take all the marketing cruft out of it.
    • Provide a distribution with a clean installer, making all the components user-selectable.
    • Active Desktop, Web Integration and All The Wizards Must Go
    • Mouse pointer shall not have a distracting shadow.
    • We do not need a bouncing "Click here to begin", either.
    • Fix the default settings for Outlook Express. Remove the ability to run scripts and post in HTML, and make it GNKSA compliant [].
  • by dioscaido ( 541037 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @09:48AM (#3017737)
    If microsoft actually releases their code to independent auditors (not likely), will the government appointed overseers really be able to make any sense of it al all, let alone to figure out if IE needs to be there?

    Even the win95 codebase must be millions of lines of code, it would take 10 years for anyone to actually go through and map out what everything does. (Heck, rumor is that microsoft left mysterious code in win2k because even they weren't sure what it did, so as not to accidentally break anything)

    Additionally, is it a question of 'can they do it with the current code base without breaking anything', or 'can it be done with modifications to the OS code'? If its the latter, then the obvious answer is YES! Source code isn't set in stone, and in the end anything can be done. Its like someone asking "Can Linux run without RAM?", currently no, but the kernel could surely be changed to run off the HD completely (why one would want to do that is another story).
  • Microsoft Mainia (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Helmholtz ( 2715 )
    Sometimes I wonder why whenever Microsoft farts it makes a headline in Slashdot. I realize that Microsoft is a huge corporation that touches all of us in one way or another ... many slashdotters are Microsoft users/supportors I suspect. But this following of the legal proceedings seems to be taking on an OJ-esque feel.

    I'm not a fan of Microsoft, but I'm also not a fan of the Government telling private industry how they should run their business. If it were up to me I'd have this whole legal mess dropped, and quit spending millions of taxpayers money.

    So what about Micorsoft's abuses? I'm a firm believer that the market will not allow for sustained monopolist abuse, given that the market is allowed to function unfettered by Governmental interference. How many people now use an operating system different from Windows because of these procedings? A scant few, I'd say.

    What does this have to do with this news item? Well, does noone else have a problem with the Government ordering Microsoft to release their source code? I don't agree with their business practices, but I don't think they should be ordered to hand over their IP to a bunch of unscrupulous politicians. I don't trust Microsoft at all, but I trust politicians even less. At least Microsoft is upfront about it's base motives, they want to completely dominate the market with their product and at the same time make a massive amount of money. Show me a successful company that doesn't have that same mantra. And good luck finding a politician that is upfront about his base motives.

    I just think we should all be careful about viewing the Government as our benefactors, saving us from the evil that big bad Microsoft has perpetrated upon us all. Microsoft produces a product that millions of people pay money to use, and I don't think they should be crippled because they have been so successful. Granted, I'm never going to purchase or use any of their products in situations where I'm able to choose, but that is a judgement that I should be allowed to make, it is not one that the Government should be making for me.
  • by t_allardyce ( 48447 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @09:51AM (#3017749) Journal
    Grade: F-

    Originality: 1/10
    Functionality: 2/10
    Code (Use of nesting, comments): 0/10

    Your program failed to compile and as such there are no marks awarded for some sections.

    The code lacked basic layout, nesting and the only comment was your name and assignment number at the top. The code was badly designed and had un-necessary use of goto's. Memory allocations where inefficient and unstable.

    You have failed this module.
  • Not Public Yet (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Artagel ( 114272 )
    Microsoft is being ordered to turn it over to the States' attorneys so that it can be evaluated. Such discovery is always covered by a protective order. Company secrets are specifically mentioned as protectable subject matter, and are as an initial matter disclosed in confidence. What would happen at hearings or trial later is at the discretion of the judge. For example, the judge could order that only representative portions, or redacted portions be shown, or the sensitive portions of the record sealed and shown only to trial lawyers and the jury. Or the judge could just tell MS to take its lumps.


    (c) Protective Orders.
    Upon motion by a party or by the person from whom discovery is sought, accompanied by a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with other affected parties in an effort to resolve the dispute without court action, and for good cause shown, the court in which the action is pending or alternatively, on matters relating to a deposition, the court in the district where the deposition is to be taken may make any order which justice requires to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including one or more of the following:
    (1) that the disclosure or discovery not be had;
    (2) that the disclosure or discovery may be had only on specified terms and conditions, including a designation of the time or place;
    (3) that the discovery may be had only by a method of discovery other than that selected by the party seeking discovery;
    (4) that certain matters not be inquired into, or that the scope of the disclosure or discovery be limited to certain matters;
    (5) that discovery be conducted with no one present except persons designated by the court;
    (6) that a deposition, after being sealed, be opened only by order of the court;
    (7) that a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be revealed or be revealed only in a designated way; and
    (8) that the parties simultaneously file specified documents or information enclosed in sealed envelopes to be opened as directed by the court.
  • coca cola (Score:2, Funny)

    by cxgd ( 545356 )
    This is crazy. It's like asking coca cola to realease their recipe.

    I think microsoft should submit the code without comments, indentation or whitespace all concatenated in one big file. Then print it out and hand it over to the judge as one big paper print out - after all they didn't say which format the code should be in. - The trial would then last enother 136 years and everyone in the USA would have to become a lawyer.

    just my 2 cents worth. You now owe me 2 cents.
    • This is crazy. It's like asking coca cola to realease their recipe.

      Crazy? No. Like asking Coke, yes, which is exactly why it is routine. If the coke recipe was an issue in a case it would absolutely be fair game. It is extremely frightening that ANYBODY actually believes the argument that IP stops the judicial branch from gathering evidence.

      MS should submit the code without modification from its native format, including the build instructions that produce the bit for bit output that they sell. Anything less should be viewed as contempt of court.

      Do people understand that evidence can be admitted under seal? This is not the same thing as ordering MS to make their code open for inspection by general members of the public. The doom-and-gloom scenarios about the impact of allowing the states to see the code are completely disingenuous since MS already licences third parties to see their source code via their "Shared Source" program.
  • Piece of cake (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WildBeast ( 189336 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @10:42AM (#3017897) Journal
    Windows code is already available as part of the "Shared Source" license (or whatever it's called). Some colleges have it, some OEM's have it, so I don't see why MS will say no to the states.
  • I'd print it out, and take a crap on it.

    Then mail it back to Bill Gates as a suggested enhancement.
  • This whole case about 'giving the sourcecode to proof your point blabla' is showing the people who have to rule in this case don't have a clue about what they're ruling about.

    In Windows2000 and Windows XP, the shell the user logs into is build around 'explorer'. The same core components that are build into this explorer are the building blocks of Internet Explorer. The renderengine itself is just a COM component, Internet explorer is more. You see this f.e. when you install Internet explorer 4 on a system that has IE3 or lower (f.e. win95). Suddenly nice shell enhancements are available for you as a developer.

    Is it a great design? No. Of course not: The core shell layer should be an OS part, but any tool build on it should not extend other tools build on top of that same layer, EXCEPT when the lower layer is extended with more functionality. The system as it is now, is more the result of the wacky run for the first spot in the browser war. Now that war is over, we'll see different approaches perhaps.

    The problem with this case is that it's not clearly definable what 'internet explorer' is, thus were it ends and where other tools start, because core elements ARE used in the OS shell, by other tools like the windows explorer.

    Just looking at the design of the system says enough to say: "it can't be removed". You don't need sourcecode for that. If it's a great design, that's not the question.
  • This is certainly a welcome and interesting move.... but I wonder if it will work.

    As one person on here pointed out... source is already available to *some* organizations, etc... so what would be the problem. But I can imagine that Microsoft will fight this hands and fists - mainly to protect their WE ARE GOD - BOW DOWN TO US issues. Since Billy Goat can't stand to be forced to do anything (it'd upset his Attention Defficency Syndrom).

    But I hope the courts are smart enought to (1) hire SEVERAL experts to COMPILE the damn thing... and make sure it produces a RUNABLE version... and (2) make sure that the runnable version that is produced has the SAME COMPONENTS as what they ship.

    My largest fear would be that they would try to put together a version that is different from the others - just as a way to *prove* their point.

    Well, if nothing more... we get to see all the paid microsoft anonymous cowards quickly jump onto slashdot to insult us... they must be feeling the pressure :))

  • I doubt it will actually happen (because MS will fight it this to the end). But if it did, do you think we commoners would ever see it? And if you did get your hands on the code, what would you do with it?
    Congratulations -- you have just extended the trial by a year or more by giving Microsoft ammunition to fight this court order. MS will go back to the judge with a 500-page printout of this slashdot article and submit it as "evidence" of what would happen if MS turned over the Windows source code.

    "One of these hundreds of Linux hackers would get their grimy little hands on it," Microsoft's attorney would say as he waved the packet in the air, "steal Microsoft's invaluable intellectual property and give it away for free! If the court forces Microsoft to turn over the source code, it is robbing Microsoft of its key assets and condemning it to insolvency."

    Of course, none of that is "true" in the traditional sense of the word, but Microsoft acquired Truth a few years ago.

  • Unfair... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by siliconwafer ( 446697 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @11:09AM (#3018007)
    Mod me as flaimbait if you wish, but Microsoft should NOT have to supply the source code. Isn't it OBVIOUS that they're lying? So obvious in fact, that the source code isn't even needed - nobody needs the glory of proving them wrong.

    Instead, Why doesn't a judge order them to either remove IE from future versions of Winblowz, or fix the old ones, even if it means rewriting half of the source.

    Making them give up the source code into uknown and probably insecure hands isn't fair. No software company - even M$ - should have to give up their source code, even if they're lying pieces of you know what.
  • 1) Anyone who thinks this will result in John Q. Programmer seeing the source is dreaming. Sure some will argue that the states can't evaluate the code and it needs public review....but the judge will never go for that (after all the states asked to review it, thus implying they were technically able to). Legal cases have all kinds of levels of who can see what, what is public, what is seen by the jury (if there is one, which there isn't), what the lawyers have to tell each other, etc. Not everything piece of information related to a case is released to the public.

    2) I predict this whole thing will result in a stalemate. Without an independent technical expert (which the judge said there was no time to find), the result will just be a standoff, with the states claiming that they have found a way to remove IE and Microsoft saying No, you don't understand the code. From the timeline (hearing on March 11) they only have 3 weeks to get the code and understand it -- good luck!

    - adam

  • Once it goes through publication of the source code (if it's on an open record) we should get the same basic effect as DECSS, should we not? Once the corporate secret is public knowledge, it can be used by wine/samba/openoffice/whatever for higher compatability rates. Once the cat is out of the bag, it's no longer protected; however, you couldn't use the code directly. Public knowledge of what's in the code doesn't change their liscence. But you could definately find all the hooks/hidden APIs and such. Go States!
    • Once the corporate secret is public knowledge, it can be used by wine/samba/openoffice/whatever for higher compatability rates

      Not that easy, I'm afraid. You say that you couldn't use the code directly, which is certainly true, but it goes deeper than that. If you so much as looked at the Microsoft source code you wouldn't be able to contribute to Samba/Wine/whatever (I believe that the Samba group actually put out a statement to that effect) because Microsoft lawyers would come down on you like a ton of bricks, and with some justification. They'd claim that the GPL'd code you wrote for whatever Open Source Project was based on theirs in that you discovered how to write it by looking at how they'd done it. Notice that in order to download the WinCE source that they've made available, you need to have a Passport to identify you... Anyway, it shouldn't be too hard for them to notice the patch that suddenly makes Wine work 100% or whatever.

      The only way around this AFAIK is the way that Compaq (I think?) used to clone IBM's original PC BIOS: a clean-room implementation whereby you have one group of people who study the original BIOS, or in this case the MS source code, and who document every single function call etc. extremely thoroughly; this documentation is then given to a second group who have not seen the source at all and who re-implement it based only on what the first group have told them about it. Long, difficult, tedious, painstaking, but fairly safe...

  • What about the freedom of information act? IANAL, but it seems that there could be a way to petition state governments to hand the source code over to anybody that wants it. Depending on the circumstances under which the windows source code would be given to the states, this may or may not be possible.

    What is a state government going to do with the code? Most likely, they will contract an outside firm to review the code and give a report. I have a lot of experience in dealing with state government as I am the lead developer on a software product that is used throughout the state of Maine by the government. My experience tells me that state governments collectively don't have the technological expertise to be able to analyze software internals! Its plain and simple, they're going to have to contract to external sources in order to analyze the code.

    This poses a very dangerous situation for Microsoft. How easily could contractors be persuaded to give the source code to somebody that wants it bad enough? How easily could the code be retrieved through FOIA? These are big issues that Microsoft will have to face if they are forced to hand out the code to state governments.
  • The real victory (Score:3, Informative)

    by Paul the Bold ( 264588 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @01:31PM (#3018487)
    The real victory here is Judge Kollar-Kotelly's attitude. She has been an unknown for many months, and we are now starting to see her attitude. I like it. She is not going to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt, but she is not going to appear partial to the states. She is going to be fair, and she is not going to be easily fooled. The outcome might not be my pipe dream ("Bill, fetch me another mocha."), but I have faith in the judge.

    As for the debate ensuing here, I have my answers:

    Is the code in the public domain?

    If it were, would it be ethical or legal to use it to make our open source projects better?
    No (we do not want to make Microsoft a victim in any way).

    Are there faked nude celebrity photos of the judge on the internet?
    Give it time, young grassshopper.
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Saturday February 16, 2002 @03:52PM (#3019069) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft contested that the original judge was too hostile, and made too many excessive demands. (Demands such as "being reasonable to the rest of the planet, for example.)

    So, a new judge was picked. Who now states that Microsoft is even more full of carp than Judge Jackson claimed, and has demanded that Microsoft show the source code for Windows XP.

    The last time this happened - with the demand for the source for Windows 3.x, the source got mysterously shredded. By accident, of course. All known copies. Including those overseas. And all at the same time.

    It'll be a little harder for Microsoft to pull an Ollie North, this time. My guess is they'll content themselves with being an Ollie Hardy. The monkey tape shows how good a certain CEO is at being loud and obnoxious.

    The question that remains for me is how long the Department of Justice will settle for being a Stan Laurel.

  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @04:59PM (#3019326)

    Let's say that Microsoft simply does not comply with demands from the states when they finally make it past appeals (if they ever do).

    What would be the punishment? Not being able to sell software in some states? Customers will demand it. More new penalties? That only means more trials, which will take even more years.

    Meanwhile, Microsoft will be able to actually have the law changed in their favor, and only release source code long after they abandon the platform.

    So what is a realistic punishment that will actually survive to have an impact on Microsoft if they don't comply with a request to release the correct source code?


    Ryan Fenton
  • by nathanh ( 1214 ) on Saturday February 16, 2002 @05:04PM (#3019346) Homepage
    And if you did get your hands on the code, what would you do?

    I would wash my hands.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"