Away from the distractions and the showmanship of the Microsoft Corp antitrust trial in Washington, Dr Edward Felten testified yesterday that in its actions and its testimony, Microsoft Corp has repeatedly contradicted its defense that Internet Explorer is an integral part of Windows 98. Felten, who testified in December, returned to answer subsequent testimony from […]
Away from the distractions and the showmanship of the Microsoft Corp antitrust trial in Washington, Dr Edward Felten testified yesterday that in its actions and its testimony, Microsoft Corp has repeatedly contradicted its defense that Internet Explorer is an integral part of Windows 98.
Felten, who testified in December, returned to answer subsequent testimony from Microsoft executives about the integration of Internet Explorer with the Windows 98 and his own program first shown in court last year and now revised, which he says removes Internet Explorer (IE) from the operating system.
Returning to the program, government attorney Steve Holtzman asked Felten about the February testimony of Jim Allchin, Microsoft’s VP of personal and business systems. Justifying the integration of IE with Windows 98, Allchin had testified that Windows 98 had greater functionality than a version of Windows 95 with Netscape navigator as a browser. Felten insisted this was a false comparison. The real comparison is what happens when the original retail version of Windows 95 is loaded with IE installed separately and then compared with Windows 98, he said. Felten added that Microsoft continues to ship IE as a separate product, yet does not allow Windows 98 consumers to buy a version of the operating sytem without IE.
Allchin had testified that a Windows maintenance program, called Windows Update would not work if IE were removed. Felten insisted that the program was a standalone program unconnected to IE, and to counter the Allchin testimony, Felten said he had continued to develop his removal program. Since December, Felten had updated the program to address some of the issued raise by Microsoft in court. These were to change the error messages to more closely resemble those from Microsoft, fix some small bugs and to still allow the Windows Update program to run after IE had been removed. This last addition allowed Microsoft later in the day to use the Windows Update program as a way to invoke Internet Explorer after Felten’s revised program had been run on a machine in court (see separate story).
Allchin had also testified that without integrating the browser functions of IE, Windows 98 would not be able to offer the same level of rich user experience. In support of his testimony, Allchin had said other vendors had done the same; namely Caldera Corp with its Open Linux operating system. Asked about the reference Felten said the Caldera demonstration contradicts this. The browser on Caldera is separable and removable.
Felten went on to point out that neither the Caldera operating system, Linux, or its browser, KDE, were developed by Caldera. Linux works with other browsers and KDE works with other operating systems, said Felten, working well together and inseparability are two separate concepts.
The Government then turned to Microsoft applications that ship separately as well as bundled together that are significantly integrated. These were the Microsoft Office components Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. Although they ship together in Office, both the word processor and the spreadsheet programs are also sold separately. With Windows 98, Microsoft chose to still sell IE separately but prevent the operating system from being sold without IE included.
Microsoft has argued that another reason for integrating IE with Windows 98 was so that Independent Software Vendors (ISV), developing products for the Windows platform that required browser functions would not have to ship the correct version of IE with their software in order for their product to work.
Felten maintained that this was not the case as in order to sell to all Windows 95 and 98 users, ISVs already have to allow for at least four existing versions of IE as well as versions of Windows 95 without any browser software at all. When Microsoft questioned Felten in its redirect, Steven Holley argued that that having to supply IE with an application would add to the time it would take a consumer to d
ownload new software. Felten replied it would only have to be done once. Holley then suggested that the idea that Microsoft ship IE separately would mean that by the time a customer tried to install software that required IE they may well have misplaced the relevant CD with IE included. Holley then suggested that ISVs would have to deal with all of the problems of localizing software to work with all the different language versions of Windows 98 if they wanted to sell their software abroad. Holley mentioned that, for example Intuit Corp’s Quicken 99 would require such support as it was sold overseas. Felten countered that Microsoft could make the software available as a download or provide it for the ISV as a service. Or they could put it in Windows 98 as they already do, quipped Holley. Yes, said Felten, they could for users that want it.