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Microsoft Expert Witness Stumbles 1023

parking_god writes "MIT prof Stuart Madnick, testifying on MS's behalf, was caught out twice when a government attorney asked him to name an OS (other than one made by Microsoft) where the browser couldn't be removed. Madnick also faltered on several other questions." Basically he doesn't understand what GNOME and KDE are, and since we're all holier-than-thou know-it-alls around here, we might as well laugh at Microsoft's expense ;)
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Microsoft Expert Witness Stumbles

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  • wait a second... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ACK!! ( 10229 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @10:37AM (#3450496) Journal
    Gnome does not necessarily even have a built-in browser for its desktop. Galeon gives you the option of being the default browser but does not have to reside on the same system with the rest of the desktop. Nautilus is the same way. If you still use GMC you have no built-in browser sucking up space.

    I thought with KDE you did not HAVE to have Konquerer though it is by default the file manager/browser for KDE. There are other file managers that can be used with KDE that do not have built-in browsers I think.

    I understand fully that KDE and GNOME are desktop environments for the Linux OS. Even so, even if the desktop could be considered the OS, his examples still do not apply.

    Am I wrong on this or is this guy just the clueless MIT professor ever?

    This is not a Troll I would actually like to know if I am wrong.

    ________________________________________________ __
  • Know-It-Alls (Score:5, Interesting)

    by colmore ( 56499 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @10:39AM (#3450520) Journal
    Basically he doesn't understand what GNOME and KDE are, and since we're all holier-than-thou know-it-alls around here, we might as well laugh at Microsoft's expense ;) Well given that this man is supposed to be an "expert witness" *some* knowledge of major competing OSes might be expected. The vast majority of Microsoft's business tactics are legal yet unsavory. I respect that. This is capitolism after all. What bothers me about Microsoft is their monolithic view of their role in computing. The honestly believe that without them, no innovation would have occured between 1985 and now, and so we should just let them walk over consumers and competitors out of gratefulness. I know it won't happen, but what I'd like to see come out of this trial would be a Microsoft not split up, shackled, or fined out of existance, but a Microsoft scared into respecting other's place in the industry. In all honesty they've done a better job than anyone else at creating a useable desktop OS good for a wide range of activities on a large variety of hardware. I'm not quite sure how they've been so successful in the server market, though. Advertising, I guess. And for my money, they still make a damn good mouse.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 02, 2002 @10:40AM (#3450524)
    He is an MIT Sloan School (business school, department 15, management) professor. Many of us from course 6 (EECS) are happy to disavow him.
  • I've been submitting stories for awhile now (all rejected) on the ineffective witnesses that Microsoft has been using during this phase of the trial.

    They've had several industry witnesses who were forced to admit that they'd never read the settlement or the states proposals. The economist who testified for Microsoft had to admit that all of his research in this area had been funded by Microsoft, the Autodesk exec who after defending Microsoft had to relate how screwed over he felt by them excluding Java from Windows XP (needed for some Autodesk software). The most fun was the former Microsoftie, now head of his own company, who testified that the states plan would lead to the "balkanization" of Windows. On cross, he admitted that the Microsoft lawyers wrote the first draft of his testimony, and that he hadn't even know what balkanization meant.

    How much are these Microsoft lawyers getting if this is the level of their trial prep?

  • by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @10:41AM (#3450544)
    I have been following the trial in the general business press as well as the IT trade press and of course the Linux-centric sites. Although the IT trade press is reporting that Microsoft's witnesses are doing a mixed job and are taking some significant hits in cross-examination, the general business press is taking the line that Microsoft's legal team has everything under control this time and is crushing the States.

    My guess is that the judge's viewpoint is going to be closer to the general business press than the IT world (much less Slashdot), so I am not holding out much hope for a meaningful order here.


  • by autocracy ( 192714 ) <slashdot2007NO@SPAMstoryinmemo.com> on Thursday May 02, 2002 @10:43AM (#3450562) Homepage
    Alright, the shell is part of Unix - which one do you like best? I prefer bash, but korn is not all that uncommon, and the regular csh is still around - then there's... ah, I don't feel like listing 50 something shells. The point's been made. Yes, the shell is critical to Unix, but you can pick whatever shell you'd like.

    Another consideration is that Konqueror is an integral part of KDE (not the OS as noted in the article - I realize this. But it fits more into the M$ gui thing), yet it's a lot easier to get Netscape on there than on Windows. Reason? Konqueror lets you remove its icon from the desktop, and doesn't step on Netscape's toes (not that I like using 128 megs of RAM to use a browser like Netscape...)

  • by Qwerpafw ( 315600 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @10:45AM (#3450578) Homepage
    As far as I know, you *can* remove the browser in windows. or at least replace it with gecko :)

    All you have to do is replace mshtml.dll (the html rendering engine for windows) with one that is based off of gecko code. There! Now windows uses gecko instead of whatever they call explorer's rendering engine.

    Problem is, i have no clue how to do this :). But it shouldn't be so hard for someone with windows expertise.

    Now all someone needs to do is write a VB app that lets you "choose" which rendering engine you want and sell it to the DOJ as a MS "remedy." Voila! Quick cash.
  • by rdelsambuco ( 552369 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @10:47AM (#3450599) Homepage
    Microsoft has lost little in this whole process by "not holding its tongue." Say what you will about MS but the organization as a whole has done a good job of finding spokespeople (like the professor) who appear "respectable" -- and that's all they need.

    The spin in Seattle on public radio was entirely positive onn this -- which was interesting.

  • IE and Windows (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ManicGiraffe ( 558896 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @10:50AM (#3450632)
    Given the M$ penchant for random DLLs, it's entirely possible that removing or disabling all the parts of IE would indeed break Windows, since god know what else is thrown into the code with it - I think most of Windows Explorer is actually IE; not having a directory browser would make that sucker unusable. This is, of course, not a good defense - it's just proof that M$ has bad design at best, or malicious design at worst. On another note, I fear for the CS department at MIT when a professor doesn't know the difference between a windowing environment and an actual OS. That truly scares me.
  • by ProfMoriarty ( 518631 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @10:56AM (#3450696) Journal
    Madnick argued that perfect interoperability, which would allow products to be substituted for each other with no performance degradation, was a theoretical impossibility. "It would be surprising if two different products behaved exactly alike," he told the court Wednesday.

    Ok then ... so what about the examples that you gave earlier ...

    But KDE is a computer program designed to run on top of the Linux operating system, as Hodges pointed out. Madnick conceded that was true, and instead suggested GNOME as an example. But GNOME performs the same function as KDE on a computer equipped with the Linux operating system.

    This is VERY funny ... on one hand, it's "theoretical impossibility" to have TWO INDEPENDENT systems that can "be substituted for each other with no performance degradation" ...

    Yet he uses the PERFECT example of doing such ... KDE and GNOME.

    This stuff is so funny, it writes itself ...

    On a bit of a serious note, IS there any performance degradation between KDE and GNOME?

  • by Brian_Ellenberger ( 308720 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @11:05AM (#3450777)

    I thought this was wierd, so I did some checking on this guy. I looked for him on MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science faculty list, but couldn't find him. So I looked him up in the people directory and found this:

    name: Madnick, Stuart E email: smadnick@MIT.EDU phone: (617) 253-6671 address: E53-321 department: School Of Mgmt title: J N Maguire Prof Of Info Tech url: http://mit.edu/smadnick/www/home.html

    His department is not EECS, it is the School of Management! His research is in areas such as Total Data Quality Management and Productivity From Information Technology. Here is a bio description from his web page:

    http://mit.edu/smadnick/www/home.html [mit.edu] Madnick finds ways to integrate information systems, giving organizations a more global view of their operations. He is leading a project that develops new technologies for gathering and analyzing information from many different sources, including conventional databases and the World Wide Web. He is also testing these new technologies in industries such as financial services, manufacturing, logistics, and transportation.

    Microsoft basically found anyone from MIT they could because it is MIT. I'm surprised they didn't find a janitor from MIT to testify.

    Brian Ellenberger
  • Not a CS professor. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 02, 2002 @11:16AM (#3450866)
    This guy is most certainly not a CS professor at MIT. He's a professor of Information Technology. Granted, he does have a PhD in CS, but his expertise is not in Op. Sys. Rather, it's in "Database and information integration technologies, impact of information technologies, and Internet applications." I don't know to what extent this casts a shadow of doubt. Check his page out at http://web.mit.edu/smadnick/www/home.html

  • Re:Huh?? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by norwoodites ( 226775 ) <pinskiaNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday May 02, 2002 @11:20AM (#3450905) Journal
    Did X Window System start at MIT?
    Did GNU start at MIT?
  • by Isle ( 95215 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @11:22AM (#3450912) Homepage
    Konqueror is not a an integral part of KDE. Without it you just wont have a file and internet browser. If you also remove libkonq, you would also have to wave bye bye to kdesktop, but that would still not kill KDE in any way.

    An outside browser might even use konquerors HTML-renderer that is an entirely independent part called KHTML.

    So not only is KDE not an OS, it also allows you too remove its browser.
  • by Meech ( 166762 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @11:23AM (#3450917)

    true, he is an MIS professor, but, the man still obtained a phd from mit in computer science. If I was MIT I would bitch slap him.

  • the organization as a whole has done a good job of finding spokespeople (like the professor) who appear "respectable"

    Yes, it never ceases to amaze me how many "respectable" people can be swayed by that payment for being a professional witness.

    It would take an unimaginable sum of money for me to sell out and lose the respect of my peers.
  • KDE without Konq (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jason H. Smith ( 142884 ) <jhs AT proven-corporation DOT com> on Thursday May 02, 2002 @11:29AM (#3450969) Homepage
    I use KDE for everything but Konqueror. To use the web, I use Mozilla, and to do file management, I'd rather just drop to a shell.

    Otherwise, I love all the integration I can (selectively) get from environments like KDE and GNOME. It's perfectly usable without Konq or Galeon/Nautilus/Etc.

    I agree that it is fair to compare KDE with the Windows user environment. But then you see that KDE already does everything that these guys are fighting over; any software can be compiled out of the system, and it's already broken up into major componets for you.
  • So what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The Silver Slurper ( 564792 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @11:49AM (#3451163)
    I really can't believe that we're still arguing about browser bundling in Windows. This point may have been significant 5 years ago, but the battle has been over for awhile.

    KDE and GNOME may not be "operating systems" in the strictest sense of the term, but for the end-user they form the most critical and recognizable part of the operating system: the desktop. What part of Linux is the OS anyway? Is it the underlying kernel that provides support for your hardware and devices? Is it the set of GNU system tools and utilities that you use to maintain your system? Is it the window manager and desktop shell?

    Linux was designed to be more modular than Windows, but this additional freedom and flexibility come at a price. What parts of a bundled Linux distribution can be removed or replaced by other work-alike components? Almost everything, but when modern applications come to depend on the existence of other "operating system" components, the complexity of setting up a system can increase exponentially. The operating system itself, however, is not useful in the general sense; it is only necessary. For a computer to be useful, you need applications.

    Microsoft has chosen the route of providing a consistent base of OS and applications which are always installed and, in some cases, cannot be easily removed. Consider this the lowest-common denominator approach that bundles every basic tool that the average computer user may need. This includes (in Windows XP): video and audio player/editor (Media Player, Sound Recorder, Movie Maker), basic text editor (Notepad and Wordpad), e-mail (Outlook Express), web browser (Internet Explorer), file manager (Explorer), image/photo viewer/editor (Picture Viewer and Paintbrush), and communications software(Hyperterminal and MSN Instant Messenger) among other things.

    Out of all of these commonly bundled applications (after all what desktop OS distribution doesn't include one of these applications in some form or another), the web browser has assumed a unique and important role in the modern computing environment. It has transcended its role as a mere user application and has become a vital system component that other applications have come to rely on. Will your operating system work without a web browser? Yes but, as I stated earlier, the operating system *doesn't matter*.

    People use computers to get work done. Work is done by using applications. Applications rely on the operating system to provide basic system services. HTML and HTTP have become basic system services for a large number of applications to provide online help systems, downloadable updates and enhancements, and even application user interface. Because a web browser is included as part of the operating system, Windows application vendors can rely on its existence to provide features to their own applications. Is this not, after all, the entire purpose of the operating system?

    The states and the DOJ can force Microsoft's hand and make them remove Internet Explorer from the operating system, but does this really make any sense? Users have always had the ability to use another browser when they surf the web, but an integrated HTML rendering engine and HTTP protocol implementation that it guaranteed to be bundled with the OS makes so much damn sense I really, truly don't understand what all the fuss is about.
  • by Odinson ( 4523 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @11:55AM (#3451203) Homepage Journal

    Mouth agape...

    Then how did Microsoft postulate that he was a qualified expert on the removability factors of IE? Wasn't technical feasability a more primary point of contention than fiscal feasabilty? If not why not?

    I realize Project Manager has the word manager in it but it has ALOT more to do with CS than traditional management. The wide availibity of more qualified persons at MIT must speak volumes about his relationship with MSFT.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 02, 2002 @12:14PM (#3451366)
    I removed /usr/local/bin/perl and now all my perl scripts don't work. That must mean that perl is an essential part of unix. I'm sure Larry Wall would agree with that.
  • by FatRatBastard ( 7583 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @12:44PM (#3451600) Homepage
    Not only that, but removing respective Browsers from KDE and Gnome doesn't kill either Windowing environment. He was wrong on so many accounts.
  • He joined the staff in 1972. Therefore, his degrees are from the 60's.

    My mom was an RPG programmer in the 80's on 390's and PICK OS...

    I suppose if you didn't know her, you'd think she could comment on the current state of programming and operating systems. I'll give you a hint - She hasn't kept up.

  • More than that, KHTML, while perfectly fine, can be replaced - you can run KMozilla instead, and the system works fine. View/View Mode lists all the HTML viewer plugins on your system in Konqueror (if you're viewing HTML), and KMozilla is pretty darn common.

    Remove *all* the html viewers, and you still can do everything else with KDE - except view help and browse the web (both of which require something to view HTML). Or you can put in your own third party HTML viewer, and distribute KDE (after all, KDE dosen't even release binaries, the distros package them themselves). MS won't only not allow people to do that, they say it's impossible to do.


  • by mother pussbucket ( 237676 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @01:20PM (#3451838)
    The frightening thing is, I've perceived the same "slant" on NPR. Might be the "support" from the B&M Gates Foundation, or the local MS consulting firms. More likely, just ignorance. With 90+% penetration, most people don't see anything but MS when it comes to an OS. And they don't care.

    MS is viewed as AT&T was prior to the breakup. Most of us had never experienced anything else (or perhaps knew the horror that was European telephony) and couldn't see what all the fuss was about.
  • by tshak ( 173364 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @01:48PM (#3452031) Homepage
    Microsoft argues that they can't unbundle the browser, and it must be included with a Windows installation. This, of course, puts all potential competitors at a loss because a user is not likely to be motivated enough to try a competing product when they already have what seems to be a perfectly good tool.

    What about all the competition with the calculator, Telnet clients, PPP clients (Who buys Trumpet Winsock?) etc. The Internet is now one of the most common uses of a computer. Of course MS is goign to bundle or even integrate a browser into their OS since that's what their customers want. Does a consumer even "know" what a PPP client is? Should these be "unbundled" from the OS so that there can be more competition? The competition is in the OS, and what the OS bundles. Maybe IE should be able to be removed (at least superficially, like the win98lite program does) by OEM's. Although, I've yet to see how this benefits the customer. They want something that works, not with 100 privacy settings.

    Footprint is the big one for me. If you don't unbundle the IE browser so that it can be replaced with another one, you're drastically increasing the memory and hard disk footprint needed for browsing.

    Huh? Opera takes an additional 4MB of space (on top of IE which is not that big either). While I use Opera, IE is not "browsing at the same time" and therefore is not "increasing the memory footprint" for browsing. Your browsing experience with Opera is not affected at all by the existence of another browser on your system. I fail to see any technical merit in your point.

  • Re:The Dead Cow (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Thursday May 02, 2002 @03:33PM (#3452764)
    Interesting reading...

    Clearly this witness was a lot more intelligent and knowledgeable than the slashbot responses suggest.

    With regards to some of the final questioning there on the cross dependencies between Notepad and IE, I think the most obvious thing is if you were to delete Notepad from the system... View-Source would no longer function within IE. So yes, Mr. Short from Microsoft was technically correct.

    Is there a technical need for the cross dependency? Well assuming we are talking specifically about View->Source. Then yes, in so much as the browser needs to have some way to display the source. The method must be well known, and exist at the time IE is installed to the system, or installed in conjunction with IE. Notepad is an obvious choice. Otherwise, the IE team would have to recreate this functionality within the program.

    Can it be done? Yes. Is it a technical desirable solution? No... application modularity is very desirable and makes development more efficient instead of constantly recreating the wheel.

  • by Jobe_br ( 27348 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `hturdb'> on Thursday May 02, 2002 @03:49PM (#3452896)

    I think instead of saying:

    Remove *all* the html viewers, and you still can do everything else with KDE - except view help and browse the web

    you could just say that if you remove all the HTML viewers, you can no longer view HTML pages. :) That should make perfect sense, even to the lay person.

The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Paul Erlich