At the antitrust trial in Washington, Microsoft attorney, Steve Holley spent the majority of yesterday morning’s court hearing trying to undermine a government witness by implying that he had no knowledge of Windows 98, and by asserting that his definition of an operating system was out of touch with today’s reality in the business world. […]
At the antitrust trial in Washington, Microsoft attorney, Steve Holley spent the majority of yesterday morning’s court hearing trying to undermine a government witness by implying that he had no knowledge of Windows 98, and by asserting that his definition of an operating system was out of touch with today’s reality in the business world. As the trial here got under way after a four- day break, Holley, spent most of the morning engaging in what seemed a fruitless nit-picking exercise to get Farber to agree that there was more than one definition of an OS. But Farber, a University of Pennsylvania professor and acknowledged as one of the founders of the distributed computing architecture, asserted that his view of an OS was one in which the core code, or kernel, is distinct from the applications that run on top of it. As such, he said there was no necessity for the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows, the fundamental root of the DOJ’s case against Microsoft. Redmond’s defense is that Internet Explorer is an integral part of the operating system, in the same way as utility features such memory allocation. Farber argued, in written testimony, that there are no technical barriers preventing Microsoft from selling its browser as a stand-alone product. And he said that combining applications with an operating system makes it inefficient and detracts from overall system performance. But Holley’s argument was that the whole goal of computing was to make the user experience as simple as possible, and that meant including as much in the operating system environment as possible. What business people refer to as an operating system is far broader than what you are saying is an operating system, correct? Holley asked Farber at one point. In response, Farber told the court it had to look at what the science community called an OS and what the commercial or business world calls it. One’s technical and the other one’s marketing, and marketing terms can be sweeping. To illustrate his argument, Farber pointed out that Windows comes packaged with games and other software. If you include everything out of the box, then you include games like solitaire, he explained, but that clearly isn’t part of the operating system. Holley further tried to undermine Farber by asking him, on several occasions, if he had ever seen the source code of Windows 98. Other than a very high level of generality, you do not know anything about the internal workings of Windows 95 or Windows 98, do you? Holley asked. But Farber, unruffled, simply stated that he had never taken the opportunity since, as an IT lecturer, he didn’t want to be forced to sign Microsoft’s non-disclosure agreements. Instead, he insisted that the OS was akin to a vault into which only the most basic components and functions should be placed. It’s my feeling that large parts of the internet don’t belong there, he said. To try and push his point home even harder, Holley cited operating system definitions included in textbooks written by other IS academics. But again, a laid-back Farber simply replied: Realize that almost anybody can write a book, even I did! It doesn’t require a lot of experience. Farber said numerous books have been written on OS there is no common agreement on anything … that is one of the joys of the academic world. Holley’s cross-examination of Farber is expected to last until Tuesday afternoon, whereupon Sun Microsystems VP and Java author James Gosling, will retake the stand. His testimony was interrupted by Farber’s due to a scheduling conflict, the court said.