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Microsoft

MS Judge to Allow Demonstration of Modular Windows 672

robkill writes: "U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, over the vigorous objections of Microsoft, will allow the nine dissenting states to demonstrate a modular version of Windows. The software is based on Windows XP Embedded, and was built by computer consultant James Bach. Details can be found here [zdnet.com]"
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MS Judge to Allow Demonstration of Modular Windows

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  • Finally (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bleckywelcky ( 518520 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @07:31PM (#3481064)

    Ya know, a modular version of Windows wouldn't be all that bad. If it had a decent performance, I would use it and recommend it for some processes.
    • Like Minesweeper? ;)
      • That would not be available in the base model, windows LE. However, it would be available in the sport model, windows Si.
      • Re:Finally (Score:3, Funny)

        by rosewood ( 99925 )
        I dont know how to play minesweeper or freecell :

        I guess that means I can not be MCSE yet or something
    • Re:Finally (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bob McCown ( 8411 )
      I tend to agree here. I think it'd be great if I could remove all the crap I dont need/want (why the #(*$# does an OS have to be 200 meg?) and have a faster box...
      • Re:Finally (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Graelin ( 309958 )
        200 meg? What did you do? I can seem to get XP under a gig or two!

        It might be worth noting that a comparable installation of RedHat 7.3 requires about 1.4 gigs of drive space. Though, obviously, you could easily make it smaller.
    • Wouldn't it be nice to be able to just pay for the features you need? The division between XP Home/Pro/Server/etc/etc isn't flexable enough. XP Pro only has one feature that I would ever need on my home laptop (sync-ing network drives at work). It would be nice to pay $50 for a strip down version of XP home and an extra $15 for the network sync feature.
    • Re:Finally (Score:3, Informative)

      by kpansky ( 577361 )
      I agree. If windows were modular, I would have far fewer qualms about it and would almost be able to recommend it to people. Dont like the web browser, slap in the mozilla extension. Want XFS support? Slap it in. Want to use SAMBA instead of the native CIFS implementation? Go right ahead. It is this sort of freedom that gives Linux its huge advantage over windows. Although I would not personally use this system, it is a step in the right direction for all software.
    • Re:Finally (Score:2, Interesting)

      by CyberGarp ( 242942 )
      Think about what would really happen. Microsoft would deliver a base set of Windows with such marginal functionality, then have a nice expensive upgrade you'd have to buy to get anything done. Presto, modular windows with more money out of the public's pocket, because the sum of the two purchases would exceed the previous single purchase.

      I think the only thing really relevent is proving that they lied about what was feasible. Thereby establishing a pattern of behavior. Requiring that Microsoft distribute modular windows wouldn't help anyone much.
      • Re:Finally (Score:5, Funny)

        by NumberSyx ( 130129 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @11:05PM (#3482243) Journal

        Microsoft would deliver a base set of Windows with such marginal functionality, then have a nice expensive upgrade you'd have to buy to get anything done

        I can hear the conversation now...

        Joe: I can't format this floppy.

        MS Rep: Oh, no problem, you need to purchase the Format:Floppy Extension, but before you can do that you will need Read:Floppy and Write:Floppy as well. Normally they are $9.95 each, but if you buy all three, it will only cost $24.95.

        Joe: Well...I guess I don't have a choice.

        MS Rep: Great, we are also having a special on Copy:File this week...

  • <jan brady>everythings always about windows,
    WINDOWS, WINDOWS, WINDOWS!</jan brady>
  • Uh-oh (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheRealFixer ( 552803 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @07:35PM (#3481097)
    But unfortunatly, Microsoft countered by denying their Product Activation Code at the time of the demo! D'oh!
  • by Seth Finkelstein ( 90154 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @07:36PM (#3481104) Homepage Journal
    Take a look at the Product Overview for Windows XP Embedded [microsoft.com]
    (emphasis added)
    Windows XP Embedded is the componentized version of the leading desktop operating system, enabling rapid development of the most reliable and full-featured connected devices. Based on the same binaries as Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Embedded enables embedded developers to individually select only the rich features they need for customized, reduced-footprint embedded devices.

    Sig: What Happened To The Censorware Project (censorware.org) [sethf.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @07:36PM (#3481112)

    One problem I could see with this is that Windows' own bugginess could be misconstrued as the fault of the person who developed this modular windows.
    "And if you'll watch as I click here, you'll see that there is no Internet Explor-- Er... one second folks, I have to reboot..."
    Microsoft Lawyer: "AH-HA! Innocent I tell you!"
  • I don't get ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by SlashChick ( 544252 ) <erica@er[ ].biz ['ica' in gap]> on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @07:39PM (#3481128) Homepage Journal
    ... why no one has latched on to the fact that you can't install products after the computer is delivered [com.com] in Windows XP Embedded. The author of the linked article (which can be found in the sidebar of the article linked in this story) makes a really good case as to why a system based on Windows XP Embedded won't fly in the consumer marketplace.

    Some of you /. readers must have worked on embedded systems before. The fact is that embedded systems aren't meant to be modified after installation. Sure, you can add an installer, but then it no longer becomes an embedded system. Is this hacked, pseudo-embedded system really going to do its job any better than Windows XP does right now? (And will anyone buy a stripped-down version of Windows?)

    The real solution is to get Microsoft to open all of their API's so developers can write compatible software (or perhaps replacement software) for Windows and Office components. Enough with the "18,000 different (but modular, ooh!) versions of Windows" arguments... and bring on the more compatible, better software that opening the API's will help to deliver.
    • Re:I don't get ... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jon_eaves ( 22962 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @07:51PM (#3481215) Homepage
      Erm, the point is that Microsoft have been whining about how you can't make a modular version of Windows.

      The states have countered with "but you have this Windows XP Embedded Thingy which claims to be modular"

      It's not that the states want Microsoft to ship XP Embedded on a PC, it's that they want to prove that a modular version of Windows is possible.

      Microsoft has conveniently already developed something to make their case for them, which is why they've been fighting vigorously to keep it out of the court.

      In legal terms, it's called "hoisted on your own petard". IANAL.

      Enjoy,
      -- jon
      • Re:I don't get ... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nhavar ( 115351 )
        I guess what I keep seeing is them say "It's not feasible" which is different than "It's impossible". XP embedded is geared towards a much different market with much different needs than the consumer desktop market. Therefore it's feasible to have a modular version that the end developer compiles to be embedded into a product that does not change often. The end developer then does all of the support for the OS based on what they've compiled into the unit. If MS could create a "modular" version of the desktop OS and the OEM's compiling it did all of the support then that might be more feasible but it sounds as if that's not being open as an option.

        Desktop PC's change much more often and have much much more software and hardware changed out than embedded systems do. So to test XP Embedded and equate it to what can be done with XP desktop is not a fair or accurate comparison and doesn't address issues of support.
        • Re:I don't get ... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by alext ( 29323 )
          Nonsense.

          Nobody is compiled XP Embedded, it's shipped as binaries for the target system.

          OEMs are obliged to support Windows Desktop as it is therefore a modular Windows will make precisely zero difference to this relationship.

          Any other bits of insight you'd like to share?
    • Re:I don't get ... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jimmcq ( 88033 )
      you can't install products after the computer is delivered in Windows XP Embedded

      I'm sure it wouldn't take much to flip the "allow installations" bit back on. XP Embedded is basically Windows XP with some components removed and that bit off.

      will anyone buy a stripped-down version of Windows?

      I'll be first in line! I want to get rid of most of the useless crap I'm currently stuck with on my current XP install.

      Give me the choice of what I want to install... don't make the choice for me.
      • Re:I don't get ... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by shades66 ( 571498 )
        Excellent. Get to choose what we want to install. At last people will be able to have a 20Mb windows install and loads of space for applications of THEIR CHOICE..
    • Proof of concept (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't get why no one has latched on to the fact that you can't install products after the computer is delivered [com.com] in Windows XP Embedded. The author of the linked article (which can be found in the sidebar of the article linked in this story) makes a really good case as to why a system based on Windows XP Embedded won't fly in the consumer marketplace.

      You're right, but are those problems relevant yet? MS seems to be going for a quick win on this point by making it an either/or question. As I read it, the argument boils down to:

      MS: A modular Windows is impossible, period. We can't do it, and neither can anyone else.

      States: A modular Windows is possible, and we have a witness who can demonstrate one.

      MS: No! It's impossible, and you shouldn't have a chance to show otherwise because you didn't reserve the right to do so earlier!

      Judge: Yes, Bach should have been mentioned earlier; however, evidence derived from an experiment trumps theoretical hand waving, so the demonstration will proceed.

      Or to put it another way, MS is arguing that it can't be done and Bach shouldn't be allowed to show otherwise because the States didn't follow procedure; Judge CKK correctly thinks that Bach's testimony is relevant regardless of the "tactical" timing. MS screwed up; trying to prove a negative is hard, and all it takes is one counter-example to tip your "proof" into /dev/null.

      Outcome: Bach will show his system, which will work about as well as Windows usually does, probably better. It doesn't have to be wonderful, it just has to work as a proof-of-concept. MS will backtrack, and then we'll get into the question of how useful/maintainable a modular Windows could be. That'll be a long fight.

      Hopefully the Court's final opinion will have an appendix listing all the different times MS has changed a story after a collision with reality. :)

  • Information on Bach (Score:5, Informative)

    by pgrote ( 68235 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @07:39PM (#3481129) Homepage
    He is a software testing expert. Not an operating system expert.

    His Company [satisfice.com]

    He Travels Too Much [wiki.net]

    He's part of the Cutter Consortium [cutter.com]

    He is a big believer in software that is just good enough. You would think he would work for Microsoft.
  • So are the states going to show Windows on a Wristwatch to show that Windows Embedded can actually compete with other similar operating systems [slashdot.org]?
  • yes, you can rip everything out to build an ATM system or something...

    but what the states want is a version where EVERYTHING is stripped out, but i can still install REAL media player and it will work fine.

    obviously real is dependant on graphics and audio libraries that were probably ripped out in that modularized version... so it is really a catch 22.

    the states want a version of windows that will run any windows application, but doesn't come with any, but still works... DON'T WE ALL!?!?!?

    basically the states are asking for what i have wanted all along. its not going to happen.
    • but what the states want is a version where EVERYTHING is stripped out, but i can still install REAL media player and it will work fine.

      Sorry, no. What the non-settling states want is a version of Windows where everything (or some approximation thereof) is replaceable. This way, if an OEM wants to replace WMP with RealPlayer, then you can remove the WMP component and install a "RealPlayer component". This component would have the same APIs as the WMP component (hence a need for API disclosure), and would therefore be indistinguishable from WMP (from a developer's perspective). Under the non-settling states' proposal, a consumer buying a PC from an OEM would still get all of the functionality of Windows; some of it would just be supplied by a non-Microsoft development team.

  • DMCA violation? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eagl ( 86459 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @07:41PM (#3481144) Journal
    Doesn't this "modular" version of windows violate microsofts EULA, developer's license, and the DMCA? While the language in the license itself could be considered encrypted due to it's obscurity making simply reading and understanding the license itself a DMCA violation, the prohibitions against reverse-engineering any product certainly would apply to a custom-built windows version used as evidence against Microsoft itself.

    Will the court be sued by MS after the trial for hacking windows? I'm sure there are lawyers licking their lips in anticipation of years of fees...
  • Break up MSFT! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cliffy2000 ( 185461 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @07:42PM (#3481151) Journal
    They couldn't break up the company... so they'll break up the software. They like breaking things apparently.
  • by CaptainCarrot ( 84625 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @07:43PM (#3481157)
    Now the hammer begins to fall. I suspect that MS thought that with her CKK on the bench, they had this all wrapped up. Now it turns out that she's actually interested in the facts. MS is doomed.

    Here's an amazing thing from the article: Bach will testify that his modular version of Windows was "robust and reliable," Kollar-Kotelly said, citing the states' submission. Bach will accomplish a goal that's eluded the best programmers in MS for decades. The man's a miracle worker of Scotty's caliber!

    • "Now the hammer begins to fall".

      I've said before - should the happy day that a just verdict comes down, and Microsoft is punished for what they've already been convicted of (violations of sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman anti-trust act), while some geeks may drink and some may dance, I shall be trying to find a good Rock radio station in the Redmond area that takes phone requests, and will be making the following "long distance dedications" to BillG:
      • Breaking up is hard to do, Neil Sedaka
      • Hammer to Fall, Queen
      • Breaking the Law, Judas Priest
      • Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye),Steam

      Does anybody out there know of such a radio station? And does anybody have any other suggestions? I would love to /. a radio station, so that all day its "And here's another one for Bill, from Tux..."

      (but please, not the Free Software Song - I love Free Software, but I'd rather castrate myself with Cat5 than cause that to be played)

      • Does anybody out there know of such a radio station? And does anybody have any other suggestions? I would love to /. a radio station, so that all day its "And here's another one for Bill, from Tux..."

        Well, for format similarity, you'd probably be best going with 99.9 KISW [kisw.com] (Consistency? They've got it! This station has been playing the top 40 from 1968-1975 over and over since I was a tyke on a trike back in the early 70s).

        For true poetic justice, check out the community-supported, Paul Allen-invested 90.3 KEXP [kexp.org].
        (editorial opinion: In spite of their rather dubious sources of cash, KEXP is far and away the cooler station).

        Good luck!

        j.

  • by Mr. Sketch ( 111112 ) <mister.sketchNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @07:45PM (#3481177)
    Microsoft attorneys strongly objected, saying the states should have brought Bach into the case earlier when they were presenting their initial case.
    Read: Microsoft says the states should have mentioned Bach in their initial case so they could buy him out or sabatoge his work or make sure he 'mysterously' disappeared.

    Kollar-Kotelly agreed in part. She said the states' attorneys hired Bach in February, but had made a "tactical decision" not to call him earlier in the case.
    Read: The states knew that Microsoft would try to buy out Bach so they delayed their announcement.

    Bach will testify that his modular version of Windows was "robust and reliable," Kollar-Kotelly said, citing the states' submission.
    Read: As robust and reliable as any Microsoft product could be, in fact, it will probably be MORE reliable without all the bloat.

    Overall: Microsoft is throwing a hissyfit and is trying to find a way to keep the experts testimony out of the court so they don't get caught in a lie (not that Microsoft ever lies).
  • by JoeShmoe ( 90109 ) <askjoeshmoe@hotmail.com> on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @07:47PM (#3481188)
    Here's what I'm curious about...

    What stops people from going ahead and reselling a specialized stripped down version of XP Embedded with all the Microfluff removed?

    I mean...I know the Embedded dev kit is like $1999 but how much do you have to pay for each copy of the OS? Is there a requirement that it must be run from FlashRAM/ROM?

    Why can't I get a copy of this modular windows. I'd still be paying Microsoft (something) but I'd almost rather pay the same price as a regular copy of Windows XP just to get the option to remove all the crap and get my system configured exactly how I want it (will they let me get rid of that stupid C:\System Volume Information indexing crap?)

    - JoeShmoe

    .
  • by lkaos ( 187507 ) <anthony@cod[ ]nkey.ws ['emo' in gap]> on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @07:49PM (#3481199) Homepage Journal
    On the one hand, I just love seeing Microsoft squirm. I really hope the XP Embedded is all nice and modular so that they look stupid as hell.

    On the other hand, knowing Microsoft's outstanding record for software quality, there is no way in hell I believe there OS is capable of scaling to the degree the States are looking for.

    So I'm drawn between my desire to see Microsoft be proven wrong, and my strong believe in the poor quality of Windows. It sucks so much, they might not be lying after all!
    • On the other hand, knowing Microsoft's outstanding record for software quality, there is no way in hell I believe there OS is capable of scaling to the degree the States are looking for.

      I'd expect that someone on the States' side tried this out beforehand.

      Remember, the States only have to demo that it's possible...they don't have to make it practical or usable. That it is possible -- and demonstrated -- is good enough since any remaining glitches could be chalked up as bugs that MS would be obliged to fix anyway for XP Embedded.

  • Perjury? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @07:50PM (#3481206)
    If/when it is proven in court that Gates and and the other Microsoft executives who testified lied about the impossibility of producing a modularized version of Windows, will they serve jail time for perjury?
    • Re:Perjury? (Score:3, Funny)

      by dboyles ( 65512 )
      Yes, CEOs of major corporations will face the same harsh penalties for crimes that someone such as the President of the United States would.

      Wait a minute...
  • by jvagner ( 104817 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @07:51PM (#3481214)
    ..but I do think MS needs to be slapped with a serious remedy that will improve the marketplace, improve the offerings for the consumer (home and business), etc.

    This will not be it. This would be a disaster of monstrous proportions. The primary reason this would be a disaster is that it's a business solution to a technical problem -- MS is a master at wiggling out of things like this. MS WILL create a disastrous modular marketplace where consumers will rush back into their all encompassing embrace. That's exactly what they are good at.

    The remedies that have been proposed by commenters on /. have been more sophisticated and reasonable. Their tactical simplicity is their advantage.

    Such as:

    mandatory open APIs

    open file formats

    rational pricing

    no "comprehensive" licensing

    mandatory list pricing of OS for computer sales (my own contribution)

    • Enforcement is always the problem. Who wants a government agency watching every release to see it complies? Who need smore length drawn out trials and hearings?

      Let M$ deifne what's OS and what's apps. Release the source *of the OS only* free of charge (but not for use to avoid licensing) at the same time as the binary release. Then anyone can see what the APIs actually are. Anyone could also compile the source to see that it matches the actual release.

      Require source release of file validators, which validate files as complying with the published formats. Anyone could check their files; if it fails, bingo! -- fine M$.

      So simple. It solves most of the forced upgrade problems, it eliminates any oversight committees, etc. Not perfect, but a pretty good start.

      Also, these published APis and file format checkers can be used by ANYONE without licensing of any sort. The OS itself can't be compiled and used. They can still inflict audits on people.
  • Microsoft is sinking to new lows in my eyes... something that I thought was "technically impossible". :)

    But seriously, when it comes down to it, this is about money. Has anyone thought of trying to show Microsoft a way that it can make *more* money by building (or rather, allowing people to take advantage of) a modular Windows? I don't expect there to be too many responses, since I'm sure (well, not that sure) that MS has put some thought into this. But just looking to generate some discussion.

    Really, dealing with MS is like dealing with a spoiled 5 year old. At this, I'm just trying to think of ways that one might "reason" with such a child. :)

    -Captain Abstraction
  • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @07:57PM (#3481251) Homepage
    One Microsoft lawyer was heard commenting:
    "Well, a modular version of Windows is impossible. What the heck, let him testify."

    He has since been given a promotion to the Microsoft head office in Afghanistan.

    -
  • A "modular" WinXP Embedded. Fine. What does this prove that's relevant to the desktop & server OSes? Is someone trying to pull a fast one on the judge, hoping that as long as "modular" and "Windows XP" are in close proximity, it won't be noticed that this isn't the OS that everyone's up in arms about?
  • Are we there yet? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bogie ( 31020 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @08:01PM (#3481278) Journal
    I can't help but feel that they are too late in the trial to get anything good out this.

    The real issue here is not browsers, since removing IE is a just a stupid idea, its forcing MS to disclose its hiddens API's and file formats.

    Chopping XP into pieces will only harm the consumer. But for example, if Open Office had access to the complete office file specs we could start to see some real change.
    Also how about publishing the AD specs so Samba can be dropped in without any problems.

    I really think that if these two steps are implemented, and MS is forced to deal with OEMs in a fair way, we will all be the better for it.

    What sucks is, the possibility of this happening doesn't even seem to be on the roadmap.

    As an aside I also think the judges and many of the people involved don't even understand the technology which for me is scary. How can you make judgements on something you don't even understand? I know that's a simplistic point of view but seriously, you can't tell me that if the judge was poor and couldn't afford to buy MS Office he wouldn't be pissed that Open Office mangles his word docs because MS is so tightassed about the specs. Having a judge who knows both nix and windows well might produce bias, but at least he would know what he was talking about when he made his ruling. Right now there is a 50/50 chance that because he doesn't understand technology he might rule that "yeah MS not disclosing the API's for security makes sense to me...a lay person".
  • not that I play solitaire myself, but what if they took that out of modular windows? people who spend all their time playing it wouldn't know what to do anymore.
  • What I would really love to see is basically a version of Windows that is stripped down to basically Kernel level. That should be one of the license options they offer. Then software distributors could build their own "Windows distros" on top of that.

    Of course they should also be forced to offer an additional licenses to the bare minimum functional Windows desktop / File manager / Graphics libraries / Audio libraries / etc.

    Lastly they should offer an optional license which includes all the extra middleware crap (IE, Media player, etc.) that is at issue here.

    If these "distributors" can resell what they license then we could have options in the marketplace that range from "MS Windows" just as it is today, to "Windows Lite" which is the bare minimums, to "AOL Windows with the Real Media Player and Netscape".
  • Microsoft: It can't be done! It can't be done!

    States: Yes it can, and we can prove it!

    Microsoft: Damn!
  • I wonder how much of this is something along the line of:

    make a big fight on windows, so that everything is focused there. Meanwhile develop behind the scene all kinds of other stuff so that they can have control

    what kind of stuff?

    I don't know, maybe like the patent on the Digital Rights Management Operating system, which if tied into the various legal messes, would mandate MS software as a legal requirement through out the USA.

    There are other possibilities as well.

  • The Office module (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vinsci ( 537958 )
    Isn't it strange how Microsoft management say they can not ship Internet Explorer as a separate module or product, when it apparently is possible for them to ship a much more complicate module such as MS Office as a separate module?
  • Imagine this, someone buys a machine from compaq and its running "modular windows" and has the "real audio module" installed in place of the "windows media player module" and a person can't get thier sound file to play. Who will they call? MS for sure and MS will have to give its best effort to solve real's problem in order keep its image of support for windows

    Scenario 2 is someone has windows without the internet module installed and calls in asking "how do I get online, windows is supposed to do that" and ms has to explain that because they got a version without that module installed they will need to go purchase the module (or worse yet an actual complete version of windows). Bad scenario to be in.

    This also puts windows in exactly the position that I think is linux's biggest problem for going mainstream. There are just too many versions and no instruction manuals can be written that are comprehensive because there are so many options.

    One of the big design goals in creating windows was a unified look and feel. The ability for a person to learn a few core skills and be able to use all of the OS with little trouble. What will certainly happen if modular windows is required is that people will have to learn how to use a far larger set of skills. I am 100% opposed to having windows with major components being plugable unless MS can control the bar for accepting a module as "certified". Its MS's image on the line and they are being forced to put that image in the hands of other companies that won't be affected as much by a failure.

    • Just thought of another problem I have with "plugable" OS modules and that is security. Any of the security holes in third party modules would be in all likely hood blamed on the os because the division is invisible to the user. Just think of how many IIS security holes are listed as "windows security holes". If some other company has developed Joe's IIS module that is in that place and it has the security hole, it is certainly not fair to say that its a security hole in windows.
  • I have serious concerns about what would happen if a modular version of Windows was released, allowing computer makers to customize what comes with it. Wouldn't that be chaotic? If I buy a computer at Dell I might get Opera and Office etc, but if I bought a computer at Gateway I might get Netscape and Star Office. This is a bit of a problem because of the incompatibilities that are bound to arise.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say everybody should run Windows and be happy with it. I'm legitimately trying to ask if my concern is valid, or has this type of thing been done before? What are the good things that would happen?

    (us Windows users are scared of change...)

    • Isn't that kind of like being worried that if you buy a Ford Ranger you wouldn't get exactly the same thing as if you bought a Z3 sports car? Obviously you'd choose which product to buy based on which one offered what you wanted. If you wanted Opera and not Netscape you'd buy the Dell instead of going to Gateway, and vice versa. Another advantage: it'd be much more likely in a modular system that you could replace parts yourself as needed, eg. if the Gateway offered everything you wanted except for offering StarOffice where you wanted MSOffice it'd be much easier to remove StarOffice and install MSOffice without breaking everything else Gateway had installed. IMO all of this would be Good Things, yielding systems tailored more closely to what you wanted and with fewer interdependencies to keep you from getting exactly what you wanted.

      • No it's more like buying a "Ford" from "Joe's car sales" where "Joe" has taken out the ford engine and put in a Hyundai engine and a mercedes muffler and a chevy tranny. And yes, chaos would ensue.
        • Markets ARE chaos. If you can't make a dumb choice, it's not really a market, you're being controlled.

          I'm seeing people side with Microsoft over this without understanding the bottom line: it's not wrong for some dimbulb to do a rotten job and put it out there in the market.

          You guys are basically arguing a socialist viewpoint that consumers must be protected from the consequences of bad actions or their own weakness- which is not, I think, intrinsically wrong- but you're casting Microsoft as the appropriate protector. Isn't that a little bit stark gibbering drooling ankle-gnawing crazy? :)

      • "Isn't that kind of like being worried that if you buy a Ford Ranger you wouldn't get exactly the same thing as if you bought a Z3 sports car?"

        Umm... no. If you wanted to make your metaphor match what I was thinking, it'd be more like this:

        "I would be worried that a Ford Ranger would use a joystick instead of a steering wheel. Would it use gasoline or hydrogen? Will it come with a spare tire, or do I have to go to another store to buy one? Will the turn signals blink, or will they look like a spinning tie?" ... and so on.

        Dell and Gateway both sell systems today that come with a lot of garbage. I bought a Gateway machine a couple of years ago, and it came with Netscape and ... a bunch of unmemorable crap that I didn't want clogging the registry.

        I was never presented with a choice of what would and wouldn't come with the machine. Instead, Gateway had already decided that. That is exactly what will happen if Windows goes modular. Only it can be a lot worse.

        At the very least, I had Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. I could start with those and go get what I want from the net from there. I could tell other people how to use IE and Outlook Express to go find what they really want run instead. But if I'm talking to somebody else and they have Netscape but NOT IE, how can I help them?

        Now if Gateway were to do like your suggesting, and allow me to pick and choose, then I'd totally agree with you. That would be great. I think what'll happen though is they'll resell what gives them the best deal.

        But you know what might work? What if there was the 'I am a first time Windows user' option where the distributers had a very definitive list of what to start with, and then the user can go from there. At least everybody starts on an equal footing and then it's not so chaotic.
        • I think there's a disconnect here. Why would you first assume that the computer from Dell is the identical same product as the one from Gateway? Your modified version is based on the assumption that all products are identical, where the point of modular Windows is to allow them to be different depending on the market the OEM is selling to. It doesn't even have to be the OEM, the modular form would allow someone to create an "I've never used a computer before" version of Windows that could and would install on both the Dell and Gateway machines without hassle.

          Having everyone start on the same footing assumes that all users are identical. As someone who's been jockeying computers since before MS-DOS existed, I don't want to have the same base apps as someone who's never seen a computer before. I want to discard all of that and pick and choose what I want without forcing everyone else to do so as well (same as I want to use Gnome as my default desktop on my home systems without forcing anyone else who uses them to do the same).

  • Greed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gnovos ( 447128 )
    I love how Microsoft's grred seems to be thier very undoing. If they weren't trying to exapand ameoba-like into every single area that they could to suck up more tasty cash, then they would never have made XP Embedded.

    For you decision makers out there, take thsi to heart: Blind Greed will NOT make you more successful. No matter how much shareholder value you *think* you can add by being unethical, greedy, or sleazy, you will find that you will be losing twice as much value when your actions catch up to you. Stop basing your decisions on thier results for next week and start basing them on their value in the next decade!
  • OK, but... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ilyag ( 572316 )
    what will stop MS from making Office require IE?

    What will stop them form making Windows without IE crash every 15 minutes?

    What will stop it from forcefully removing HTML rendering & ActiveX with IE, an invite them to install IE when Kazaa tells them it needs mshtml.dll? (Or is that a good thing - Kazaa will stop showing banners using IE? My version of Kazaa Lite still shows pop-ups.)

    Finally, what will stop them from shipping the non-modular version with PCs and requesting that people buy the normal one for $XXX?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @08:29PM (#3481459)
    ASSUME this demo goes off. A non-tech expert gets convinced by ONE PERSON that he has developed a replacement for Windows. (right)

    As a programmer on Windows, I'd hate it.

    Think about the situation on Linux -- dependencies left and right. That's fine for SOME people (you people reading this, mainly). But common consumers? The mass market? Come on...

    Shipping a program for Windows would no longer be just a matter of shipping one or two new versions of DLLs with a software package. Instead, requirements would read: MSWKernel 1.2343 or better, MSGDI 1.232 or better, REALSound 1.001 or better, AOLNetworking 0.12415 or better.

    Programs would have to be written targetting EACH possible configuration. Sure, one can ASSUME that all interfaces would behave the same, but who are we kidding? Each company, trying to get OEM deals, would be trying to make some performance aspect stand out. Which means software will then be wanted that uses those effects. But what works on REALSound wouldn't necessarily work on CREATIVELiveSound. So as a developer, I would have to be developing for multiple platforms to sell for Windows.

    And let's assume I require MSNetworking. While other companies might have competing networking configurations, my product is so wonderful everyone decides to give MSNetworking a whirl, just so they can use my product. I would then have to be arranged as an OEM, reselling the MSNetworking component along with my program... and another version for those who already have it!

    Unfortunately, it really would wreck havok if the majority of users suddenly had to worry about every aspect of their system configuration. Windows provides a base-line configuration anyone can program to. Switching to this "destroy it all" modularity design would make people much less eager to work with computers that might change radically under the installation of one program... think about it, install AOL and all of a sudden, you have ads in your background, your documents, your emails, your startup screen... (they have to make revenue somehow).

    The solution really is to make MS publish their standards. Working from their published documentation does reveal a lot -- their MSDN library is much more accessible and unified than every other developer's documentation package I've worked with. What IE provides to the operating system is to an extent known -- you can analyze the IE object for what interfaces and methods it supports fairly easily. If MS is forced to continue this, and allow groups like Samba and OpenOffice to work better with their software, much more will be gained than if suddenly a one-floppy program needs to ship on three CDs in order to be sure all systems have the necessary components in order to play minesweeper.
    • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @08:48PM (#3481555) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, but the alternative is already underway, and it's "all MS stuff works with other MS stuff as long as you keep really up to date, but everything else breaks a lot". The degree of integration continually shuts out other products.

      You're arguing for a state of affairs that is putting you out of business: the simplest baseline configuration is "We supply all the software, why would you ever need anything else?". And that's what MS is driving towards.

      Are you really so dedicated to user simplicity that you're willing to stake your career as a Windows developer on it, and side with Microsoft on this issue? Very noble, but I'd question how smart it is. Maybe you should consider making life a little harder and riskier for those consumers so YOU can have room to move, and to sell them stuff.

    • by ProfMoriarty ( 518631 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @09:35PM (#3481840) Journal
      Shipping a program for Windows would no longer be just a matter of shipping one or two new versions of DLLs with a software package. Instead, requirements would read: MSWKernel 1.2343 or better, MSGDI 1.232 or better, REALSound 1.001 or better, AOLNetworking 0.12415 or better.

      You must be new to programming ... we already have this ...

      Version DLL Distribution Platform
      4.00 All Microsoft® Windows® 95/Microsoft Windows NT® 4.0.
      4.70 All Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.x.
      4.71 All Internet Explorer 4.0. See note 2.
      4.72 All Internet Explorer 4.01 and Windows 98. See note 2.
      5.00 Shlwapi.dll Internet Explorer 5. See note 3.
      5.00 Shell32.dll Windows 2000 and Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me). See note 3.
      5.80 Comctl32.dll Internet Explorer 5. See note 3.
      5.81 Comctl32.dll Windows 2000 and Windows Me. See note 3.
      6.00 Comctl32.dll Windows XP. See note 4.

      And all of this is FOR 1 DLL!!! ... now the next dll ... (you get the idea) ...

      Info stolen from Microsoft [microsoft.com] and Yes ... I'm deep linking ...

      • by GSloop ( 165220 ) <networkguru@noSPam.sloop.net> on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @12:09AM (#3482451) Homepage
        Frankly, I think MS SHOULD have done this long ago.

        I get REALLY tired chasing things down for an APP because it got installed into the OS.

        Here are the rules the OS should have imposed LONG ago.

        ALL DLL's MUST reside in the application directory, unless the DLL is supplied with the OS. Any files the APP needs, that are not included in a default install of the OS must be in a subdirectory of the applications, NOT the OS.

        All INI and Registry additions must be merged and applied on the fly. (This would be a modification of the OS)

        This would make "imaging" a whole lot easier. Just copy the app directory and all subdirectories, and you've got Word/Excel etc.

        Sure, the API would have to be robust and stable, and applications might be a bit larger because you'ld have to include your own tools/dlls.

        But hey, it's not like most Windows developers ever heard of profiling their code anyway! It's serious bloatware, starting with the OS, and it just rolls downhill from there.

        Besides, just deal with this like everything else. More disk, more RAM, more CPU. For lower support curves, (it would make life a whole lot easier) the additional hardware costs would be trivial.

        Sure, I REALLY WISH the horrible static linking problems you all claim would kill us WOULD ACTUALLY happen. From a system admin perspective, it would make life a whole lot easier!

        The OS OUGHT to stay the OS. Programs don't add things to the OS. They add them to their own directory, and merge them at run time when needed.

        No more DLL hell.

        I regularly rebuild Windows OS's, and the cost of doing do over the life of the machine, for many users exceeds the cost of the machine. Backup all data. Reinstall OS. (Think we're done, Oh No, we're just starting!) Install apps A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. Reconfigure all apps. etc. Many many hours later, you're done. (Imaging really doesn't work in a one-off world...)

        A modular OS as I describe above...

        -Backup all directories other than the OS.
        -Reinstall OS.
        -Copy back directories.
        -Do minor configuration to apps and desktop
        -Go golfing for the 4 hours more you would have spent otherwise.

        Cheers!
    • You state a problem that will not be encountered. The states are only trying to show that Windows is modular, such that not everything bundled with Windows must be installed (such as a media player that discourages use of RealPlayer, Quicktime, whatever). That does not necessarily mean that Microsoft cannot provide these components if the consumers want them. The beaf with MS is that they install everything on your system, whether you want it or not, and the presence of that software is what stifles competition. If MS are forced to change, it would be removing the "install everything" aspect of the installer, while shipping Windows with everything it has now.

      So, if you are a developer and you're writing a package that depends on MSHTML, the installer could simply state that it needs the Windows CD (which anyone with a legal copy will have) to continue installation. Programs do this all the time today - it's very common. Especially Microsoft applications (Office upgrades for instance). Basically, everything needed to satisfy dependencies will be available to the user, just not installed by default on their system.

      We're not talking about MS selling stripped down Windows, we're talking about MS selling a modular Windows. You've missed the point.
  • ABORT! (Score:3, Funny)

    by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @08:38PM (#3481499) Journal

    Maximum number of Microsoft articles per day exceeded. Core dumped.

    I mean, really - I like to keep up on this case as much as the next guy, but we're up to what, four articles today? And the night's still young. How 'bout at least containing all the trial-related stuff into one wrap-up article per day, at least, and saving the "Microsoft eats small children for breakfast" filler ones that aren't breaking news for more of the off days?

    Disgruntled but still reading the article,

  • by Verteiron ( 224042 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @10:02PM (#3481987) Homepage
    "Yessir, why don't we start with what version of Windows you are running? Ok, did you get IE with that? Ok, that's why you can't get online... you'll need to install the Dial-Up module from the CD. Don't panic sir, I'll walk you through it..."

    *25 minutes later*

    "Ok, now we're going to install a browser... yessir. No, it's not there yet, we need to load it from the CD..."

    *38 minutes and 2 reboots later*

    "Ok, now you should be able to get online... No e-mail? What? Nosir, I certainly didn't say that, we must have a bad line or something... Ok, here we go..."

  • Objection! (Score:3, Funny)

    by jsse ( 254124 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @10:03PM (#3481991) Homepage Journal
    Bach will testify that his modular version of Windows was "robust and reliable," Kollar-Kotelly said, citing the states' submission.

    MS Lawyer: "Objection Your Honor! There's no such thing as "robust and reliable" Windows. This alibi cannot be trusted........Oh wait..."
  • by PurpleFloyd ( 149812 ) <zeno20.attbi@com> on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @10:58PM (#3482220) Homepage
    I know our school would pay quite a premium for a "non-integrated" Windows. The district has decreed that all desktops must have Windows on them, and the license is basically for the newest version only. Thus, our Win2K (XP hasn't been deployed yet) installs have all sorts of non-removeable crap on them. Do you think that students would rather do work or play Minesweeper, screw off making crudely drawn well-endowed men in Paint and chat in Netmeeting? The programmer who thought up Windows File Protection should be drawn and quartered. Modular Windows Forever!
  • by small_dick ( 127697 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @11:17PM (#3482288)
    The goal is not end users building up frankenstein desktops from scratch, using s/w they downloaded from the web.

    Hardware vendors -- Dell, Compaq (sorry, HPQ), Sony -- they will make a desktop for use with the machines they sell, forging alliances with AOL, Real, etc. to build up a user environment on top of the commodity OS core that MS would provide.

    Add in the tech oversight in the company, forced publishing of core APIs, etc., thus allowing RedHat, BSD or Apple to make a "drop in" replacement core...

    That would be a tough situation for MS.
    • I believe that is exactly what the state's are suggesting.

      On the one hand it does create an interestingly compelling argument. Gateway could differentiate their Windows PCs such that they looked more like a Macintosh than current Windows. In that sense it may provide for considerable innovation. It would certain allow PC makers to promote themselves out of the commodity market and into boutique computing.

      The downside is that within a rather short time period, the various OEMs would have differentiated themselves to the point that software that installs on a Dell won't on a Gateway(as an example). It'll be like we were back in the 1980's again(anybody remember TI's aborted attempt to create a DOS compatible computer? It required DOS software compiled for the TI and never really sold well as a result.)

      I guess the question is, do the positives outweigh the negatives? I suppose we could say it should be up to the customer to decide.

      But what if the consumers reject this new model and instead choose compatibility over differentiation? Will the skeptics be happy, or will they believe it was manipulation on Microsoft's part and come back in to readjust the rules?

      That's the question I want answered.

  • How to kill MS. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Wednesday May 08, 2002 @05:24AM (#3483277)
    Leave them alone. Do absolutely nothing to them.

    Seriously. Let them have their monopoly. Let them change their licensing to subscription based pay per use licensing.

    Their customers are already squealing at the prices they are paying and the massive licensing costs are reducing the competitiveness of some large companies already. MS will have to squeeze tighter and tighter in order to continue sucking money.

    Meanwhile Linux will spread and OpenOffice will spread. At some point in the near future, there will be a "catastrophe" and Windows will no longer be the most popular desktop operating system.

    Any attempts to curb Microsoft's excesses simply prolong their dominance of the desktop market.

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