Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Microsoft Documentation Declared Unfit For US Consumption 243

anomalous cohort writes "Washington DC judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly announced during the ongoing Microsoft antitrust hearings that their documentation is unfit for US consumption. This is relevant in an antitrust hearing as poor documentation on how to inter-operate with Microsoft's products is seen as an unfair barrier to entry for companies who compete with Microsoft. Others see this as yet another example of their crumbling hegemony or indolence as their empire burns."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft Documentation Declared Unfit For US Consumption

Comments Filter:
  • by WK2 ( 1072560 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @03:39PM (#25171197) Homepage

    Acknowledgment is the first step to recovery.

  • by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) * on Friday September 26, 2008 @03:39PM (#25171199) Homepage Journal
    From TFS:

    "...Others see this as yet another example of their crumbling hegemony or indolence as their empire burns."

    In this day and age of increasingly biased reporting, it is nice to see that Slashdot continues to present an objective, fair, and balanced approach to covering the issues.

    Scuttlemonkey could work wonders for the Middle-East peace process!

    • by SoCalChris ( 573049 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @03:49PM (#25171353) Journal
      Slashdot has always been biased towards Linux. As far as I know, they've never even pretended to be a fair and balanced source of IT news. Have you noticed the borg icon that's used for MS stories?
      • by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @04:04PM (#25171537) Homepage Journal

        I tend to think of /. as Taco's blog instead of a trusted IT news source. That explains just about everything.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Foofoobar ( 318279 )
        Dude... that's not an icon. Thats an actual photo! Him and Ballmer run over children on the weekend in their 'cube' shouting 'DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS'! Watch out for that things photon chair-pedoes!
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Slashdot has always been biased towards Linux. As far as I know, they've never even pretended to be a fair and balanced source of IT news. Have you noticed the borg icon that's used for MS stories?

        /. is one hell of a lot more fair and balanced than pretty much anything out of M$ and their "partners" (gack) web sites. Paid marketers are the worst.

        Slashdot is a software nerd website. That means closed source software, i.e. software that cannot be as easily modified, analyzed and understood, is inherently at

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        I agree with what you said but at the same time the site is more unbiased than people think.

        If any company is doing something poorly being unbiased doesn't mean attack and promoting those bad habits. It means reporting fact. Fact doesn't always give both sides because there isn't two sides to give and the fact is Microsoft does a lot of stupid stuff. The consumer doesn't always see (or care about) this stuff so some articles come off as biased attacks on Microsoft in those people's eye.
      • Have you noticed the borg icon that's used for MS stories?
        .

        Yes I have. That and the stained glass window. But divorcement from reality is not a healthy sign for a tech site:

        Sept 22 - Earlier today, Microsoft Corp. joined only five other nonfinancial corporate debt issuers to be assigned a 'AAA' rating by Standard & Poor's. This is also the first new 'AAA' in 10 years.

        Microsoft appears to be bucking an almost three-decade trend that has shown U.S. industrials' movement away from 'AAA's--and from high

        • by Detritus ( 11846 )
          These are the same dipshits that gave AAA ratings to a mountain of putrid mortgage bonds.
      • ...and not back-slashdot.

      • Slashdot has always been biased towards Linux.

        Just as Science has always been biased towards evolution rather than Intelligent Design.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by SL Baur ( 19540 )

        Slashdot has always been biased towards Linux.

        You must be new here. I'm modded down all the time for insider Unix jokes or expressing a relatively mild opinion of what I feel about Microsoft Windows.

        This is not your Father's slashdot.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by smoker2 ( 750216 )
        Oh dear, better call the Waaaaahmbulance.
        Are you calling Washington DC judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly a linux hacker ?
    • Looks objective, fair and balanced from where I'm sitting ...
    • There is nothing wrong with being biased toward one thing or another. The problem comes in when you are unfairly biased.
    • In this day and age of increasingly biased reporting, it is nice to see that Slashdot continues to present an objective, fair, and balanced approach to covering the issues.

      On the other hand ... that doesn't mean they're wrong.
    • It's not just biased reporting, it's very bad editing both by the submitter and by Slashdot.

      This whole story is just link spamming by the submitter. I did think that if the submitter was linking to two of their own websites, they might at least link to something related to the text of the link they provided in the story. In other words, it might have been an "example" of "crumbling hegemony or indolence as [the Microsoft] empire burns".

      The first linked blog entry written by some guy called 'Glenn'. Th

  • by spazdor ( 902907 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @03:39PM (#25171205)

    Documentation unfit. Awesome.

    Now what about the software?

  • Man... (Score:5, Funny)

    by scubamage ( 727538 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @03:43PM (#25171261)
    When will this unjustified persecution of undocumenting coders be stopped!? If I can understand 15 layers of recursion with pointers to 8 dimensional arrays and no documentation, you should be able to as well!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Understanding complex code depends on how it was written and yes I can still understand complex code that might use random variable and method names that make no sense but it will take me longer just as having to sift through someone's code will probably take longer than reading documentation.

      There is a difference between people flat out not being able to understand something and wasting their time because you couldn't be fucked to document things as you should and there is absolutely no reason for a com
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Absolutely. It's no surprise that so many programmers are into games which involve solving puzzles and uncovering secrets. The whole of computer programming is imbued with a kind of mysticism, and programmers feel like they are high priests of an arcane art.

      That kind of attitude quite naturally leads to contempt for documentation. Now, I've never worked at Microsoft, so I don't know what their documentation habits are like, but I suspect they are as poor as in most companies.

      Now, of course many compa

  • by ivandavidoff ( 969036 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @03:43PM (#25171263)
    For coders, at least. Documentation is for auditors.
  • Hegemonies of indolence should be met with hegemonies of insolence! Or something like that.
  • Others see this as yet another example of their crumbling hegemony or indolence as their empire burns.

    One only knows how to reach complete happiness in computer software when they have felt the power of the source. Use the source Steve! ...gg..GAHH!! *dodges chair*

    • Others see this as yet another example of their crumbling hegemony or indolence as their empire burns.

      One only knows how to reach complete happiness in computer software when they have felt the power of the source. Use the source Steve! ...gg..GAHH!! *dodges chair*

      Obviously, you haven't reached the level of a true master. If you were, you would have used your sourcefield to deflect the chair.

      • Others see this as yet another example of their crumbling hegemony or indolence as their empire burns.

        One only knows how to reach complete happiness in computer software when they have felt the power of the source. Use the source Steve! ...gg..GAHH!! *dodges chair*

        Obviously, you haven't reached the level of a true master. If you were, you would have used your sourcefield to deflect the chair.

        For example, Steve Jobs uses his reality distortion field to deflect all incoming chairs :)

  • Sure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tsotha ( 720379 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @03:48PM (#25171349)

    Others see this as yet another example of their crumbling hegemony or indolence as their empire burns."

    And still others realize their documentation is probably no crappier than anyone else's.

    • Re:Sure (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @03:51PM (#25171383) Journal
      True. Only the other day I was bitching about the crappy documentation on a piece of code, and I was the one who wrote it!

      Programmers are always completely oblivious as to what will not be so obvious to someone else or themselves several months down the line. At the time you;re writing it, it's quite clear that the routine will do exactly what you want it to do at that moment.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by malkavian ( 9512 )

      Yes, they do.. However, most have not explicitly been told by a Judge to write the documentation so that it is fit for purpose, on pain of some very nasty sanctions due to anti-trust litigation.
      Being blase about that really isn't a very good tactic, and either reeks of rank stupidity, or sheer insolence. And I don't happen to believe for a moment that Microsoft, as an entity, is stupid.

  • Bad summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @03:55PM (#25171441) Journal

    Those linked blogs say nothing about "yet another example of [Microsoft's] crumbling hegemony or indolence as their empire burns."

    • by HTH NE1 ( 675604 )

      Those linked blogs say nothing about "yet another example of [Microsoft's] crumbling hegemony or indolence as their empire burns."

      Are you sure the summary meant Microsoft in that sentence?

  • Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by haystor ( 102186 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @03:57PM (#25171453)

    There is a certain irony that the legal system decides someone else has poor documentation. The documentation of the law requires a graduate degree to use.

    I'm no fan of Microsoft, but their documentation is ironclad compared to the law. Witness this case, it is only after the fact that it becomes vaguely clear that having poor documentation is wrong (even for a monopoly).

    • It is wrong because they were told by the court to produce documentation that others could use to "inter-operate" with Microsoft software. It was not "after the fact" they have been given several YEARS to produce this documentation after they were told to do so by the court. This is the second time that the documentation Microsoft was ordered to produce was declared unusable for its stated purpose. The first time (three? years ago) was by a Microsoft selected expert at which time Microsoft said that he was
    • Re:Irony (Score:4, Interesting)

      by KiahZero ( 610862 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @05:39PM (#25172505)

      IANAL, because I have two more semesters of law school to complete. Before that, I was a computer science major.

      Your mistake is that you are comparing legal code to software documentation. However, the more apt comparison is to compare legal code to software source code, at which point your analogy fails. While they aren't widely advertised, there are plenty of secondary sources (such as legal encyclopedias) out there that make law accessible to a layman.

  • by djpretzel ( 891427 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @03:58PM (#25171463) Homepage
    Scary thing is, I've always found their doc decent... relative to other companies. This judge needs to attempt to assemble some of the more ornate IKEA offerings - she'll have a new appreciation for MSDN/Technet...
    • by slittle ( 4150 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @04:47PM (#25172039) Homepage

      As the article says, Microsoft documents the things they want you to know very well (more software for Windows == good), so it's not like they have a corporate culture of crap documentation. What they don't do is document things they don't want you to know, like formats and protocols, because that would allow you to use non-Microsoft software somewhere (== bad).

      Since their documentation is obviously biased, they're in trouble again.

    • by KGIII ( 973947 ) *

      I wonder if that could be a part of the problem. No, not this problem, but the larger problems in America. What is ONE judge doing with two big cases in this short amount of time? (Thanks for the link to that by the way - I missed that one as I've been busy lately.) These are two rather large cases that may set a bit of precedent here. That one judge had both of those and managed to rule on them both in that limited time frame makes me curious as to her willingness to devote the time to actually understand

  • Not only is it unfit for US consumption, it's likely unfit for M$ consumption and is the official documentation that M$ developers have to use to interoperate with other M$ products.

  • badarticletitle? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wowlapalooza ( 1339989 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @04:08PM (#25171589)

    Did Judge Kollar-Kotelly actually utter the phrase "unfit for US consumption"? I think not. After TFA and TFALRFTOA (= Linked, Recursively, from the Original Article), all I see is that she scolded Microsoft for claiming that they had provided the documentation -- a condition of the Consent Decree -- and urged them to finish the job.

    What would that phrase mean anyway? I don't "consume" documentation, do you? I use it as a tool in the development process, not a repast. And does "US consumption" imply that the documentation is fit for European consumption? Asian consumption? This article title is not worth of Ars or Slashdot, IMO.

  • Contempt Charges? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @04:08PM (#25171599) Journal
    But Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who is overseeing the consent decree, ruled that Microsoft still hadn't sufficiently documented some protocols, despite those documents having been due in 2003.

    Five years to produce a document? Is it normal to allow a company such lattitude in the courts? If a rank and file citizen were to take that long, I think they'd have been slapped with a contempt of court charge, or they would have been ruled against, long ago. Why the leniency?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RichMan ( 8097 )

      > Five years to produce a document? Is it normal to allow a company such lattitude in the courts?

      The problem is Microsoft does not work from design or specification documents for interfaces or protocols. Microsoft makes the code work, then well it works so they don't need documentation. The documents simply don't exist and are very difficult to make correctly after the fact.

      Both these protocol documents and the Microsoft Documentation OOXML standard are effectively reverse engineered from the code. This

      • The problem is Microsoft does not work from design or specification documents for interfaces or protocols. Microsoft makes the code work, then well it works so they don't need documentation. The documents simply don't exist and are very difficult to make correctly after the fact.

        You're trying to tell me that for the past 20 years nobody has written any specs down? That when they coded Office 2003 they had to reverse engineer Office XP? You're telling me that Microsoft Press's "Writing Solid Code" and t
        • by Shados ( 741919 )

          The newer stuff of Microsoft, and their public APIs, are pretty well documented. Keep in mind though that stuff like Office and Windows pre-date Microsoft's insane popularity (in numbers, not in spirit) and monopoly. So there's a lot of stuff that was never documented, and the people who wrote it aren't even there anymore, and there's a lot of code built on TOP of that. Microsoft didn't get the luxury of a 0.1% market share that would allow them to scrap everything they did and start over, like a certain hi

  • Don't eat it, then!

    Or did they mean it's not good for tuberculosis?

  • Seriously? (Score:5, Funny)

    by HerculesMO ( 693085 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @04:15PM (#25171675)

    I've read lots of MS Documentation over the years -- white papers, APIs, and just general guidelines for things.

    It's damned good documentation. It may not go to the border of 'special olympics' readers for Apple users, but for the majority of developers that are working on 'interoperability' the documentation is quite good. Not amazing, but the irony is still lost on me that a lawyer decided somebody else's documentation was bad.

    Have you ever read the way bills are introduced into law? Jeez.

  • I particularly liked:

    "Others see this as yet another example of their crumbling hegemony or indolence as their empire burns."

    Here's an interesting concept the editors may wish to take a look at some time

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/objectivity [thefreedictionary.com]

    All joking aside this kind of childish rant isn't very good for slashdot. Does slashdot aspire to be "News for nerds" or "old stories for trolls to bitch about"?

  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @04:19PM (#25171721)

    The Microsoft people are making fools of her and the court system and she hardly even knows it. If she did, she'd have ripped them a new hole long ago and imposed sanctions on them instead of letting this drag out year after year.

    Isn't it getting to the point of irrelevant in this year of late 2008? After all, interoperability is more of a threat to their business than any court Justice and they know this and spend billions annually protecting that. IMO.

    LoB

  • Have they seen IBM documentation? *shudder*

  • Three people are in a helicopter, when a fog suddenly rolls in and makes visibility less than fifty feet. The pilot is lost, but after flying in ever widening circles, spots a building. He flies up to it, and motions for a person to open his window.

    The pilot yells at the top of his lungs: "WHERE ARE WE?"

    The man in the building replies: "YOU'RE IN A HELICOPTER!"

    So the pilot turns due east, flies 1.5 miles and lands at the airport. After which, one of the passengers asks incredulously "How did you do that?"

  • Slashvertisement (Score:5, Interesting)

    by level4 ( 1002199 ) on Friday September 26, 2008 @05:04PM (#25172221)

    Article submitter:

    anomalous cohort (http://www.dynamicalsoftware.com/)

    From the marketing "blog" linked in the summary (http://www.dynamicalsoftware.com/cgi-bin/ViewBlogEntry.pl?id=14)

    writing and maintaining developer documentation is an important part of any software development project [...] Another reason for documentation is compliance management [...] our collaborative software development project lifecycle management product Code Roller supports compliance management [...]

    Nice try!

  • Skype has a huge portion of the VOIP market, their protocol is not just undocumented it seems to have deliberate obfuscation [wikipedia.org] in it to stop reverse engineer attempts. However: since I suspect that govt secret services have back doors into it I don't expect that they will be forced to document in the courts.
  • She should spend some time on the phone with Neelie Kroes (sp?)

  • If the Microsoft empire is burning it's because they're burning all that extra cash they have lying around. They're not hurting.
  • Compliance is a very very very difficult problem. This is particularly true when you have more than one compliance specification that you must work with, don't have engineering resources from the team that produced the product that is out of compliance, and are working on a short deadline while trying to deliver documentation for other projects. I have posted a longer response to this on my work blog. Feel free to share the pain...

    http://gclassy.com/ [gclassy.com]

  • "Let them eat adequate documentation!"

No line available at 300 baud.

Working...