There is only one, small separate software code written for Internet Explorer (IE) and the rest is integrated into the Windows 98 operating system, making it impossible to separate the two. That was the main crux of Microsoft’s lawyer, Steven Holley’s argument yesterday afternoon during his cross examination of the government’s witness, David Farber. Holley’s […]
There is only one, small separate software code written for Internet Explorer (IE) and the rest is integrated into the Windows 98 operating system, making it impossible to separate the two. That was the main crux of Microsoft’s lawyer, Steven Holley’s argument yesterday afternoon during his cross examination of the government’s witness, David Farber. Holley’s argument centered around the use of DLLs, or dynamically linked libraries. A DLL, he said, is a package of code that determines functionality within a computer system. Specifically, he stressed that any one DLL is responsible for a number of separate functions within the OS environment. They can be used by different applications, or other DLLs or the operating system itself. Holley was responding to witness David Farber’s testimony that it would conceivably be possible for Microsoft to remove the DLLs, or portions of them, that govern IE functionality and offer them as a separate product, on a CD-ROM for example. In his written testimony to the court, Farber referred to IE as an application, and as such, he thinks it should be kept separate, and offered as an option, from the overall OS. As part of his cross examination, Holley showed a list of 13 DLLs and said that only one, called iexplore.exe, was exclusively linked to IE. All the other DLLs, he said, lend functionality to IE, as well as to other parts of the OS, and if they were to be removed from Windows, as Farber was suggesting, it would cripple the entire system. For a while, the argument settled on one DLL in particular, called MSHTML.DLL. This is the package of code that the Windows operating system uses to operate any kind of web functionality. Listening to the arguments, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson asked Farber whether or not it would be possible to remove IE from the operating system and still have it invoke the functionality of MSHTML.DLL, were it installed separately, as an add on. Yes sir, Farber said, a response that was widely perceived as a blow to Microsoft, since if IE can invoke functionality from one DLL, it can do so from several DLLs, thereby negating Redmond’s contention that IE can not be separated from the OS. In what became a slow and tedious argument, Holley spent the large part of the afternoon trying to make Farber stick his neck out and say which of the DLL’s had to be removed in order to separate IE from the OS. And time and time again, Farber reiterated the same answer: I’m not recommending taking anything away. I’m just saying that software’s a very malleable thing and that you could have put it together better in the first place. It’s the packaging that’s the problem. Farber pointed out that if any one of the 13 DLLs Microsoft said were intimately associated with IE were removed, it would bring the whole system down, web or no web. He added: You can’t remove the Kernel32 DLL for instance, but that has nothing to do with web browsing, he said, the fact that an application uses the kernel DLL doesn’t make the kernel part of the application. And the same is true for IE. The fact that it uses many of the functionalities within the DLLs doesn’t mean that any of them are part of IE. Farber said he gained further evidence that IE was intentionally written into the OS when trying to uninstall it from Windows 98. I tried to load Netscape Navigator instead, but no matter what I did, IE would come up and bite me, he said, which somehow suggests it was an application welded into the box from the outset. Despite relentless arguments by Holley to the contrary, Farber concluded that all my instincts say that to get that level of functionality out of IE, you have to put some extra functionality in.