A US Government attorney at the Microsoft antitrust trial yesterday used Microsoft’s own dictionary of computer terms to try to prove that its Internet Explorer is in fact an application and not an integrated part of the operating system, as the company claims. Addressing the government’s witness, Professor David Farber, during the redirect on Wednesday, […]
A US Government attorney at the Microsoft antitrust trial yesterday used Microsoft’s own dictionary of computer terms to try to prove that its Internet Explorer is in fact an application and not an integrated part of the operating system, as the company claims. Addressing the government’s witness, Professor David Farber, during the redirect on Wednesday, the attorney, Denise De Mory, read aloud Microsoft’s description of IE in which it defines the software as a web browser. Then, turning to the definition of web browser she read: [a web browser] is a client application that enables a user to view HTML documents on the World Wide Web. She asked Farber if Microsoft’s definition was in keeping with his views as to what IE actually is. It repeats exactly what I’ve been saying, Farber responded, that IE is an application and as such it should perform like one, be removable from the main operating system and so on. The government also read out Microsoft’s definition of an operating system, what yesterday’s attorney, Steven Holley, had spent much of yesterday trying to pin down. But contrary to his view that the OS should be seen as an high level environment, including additional features such as web browsing, the actual definition read more like David Farber’s explanation. It said: The software that controls the allocation and usage of hardware resources such as memory, central processing unit (CPU) time, disk space and peripheral devices. The operating system is the foundation on which applications are built. Not a word of web browsing in sight.
An application or not?
But the ability to prove that IE is or is not an application has formed the crux of both sides of the argument here in Washington over the past two days. For its part, Microsoft says the software coding for IE is intimately linked in shared DLLs (dynamically linked libraries) that also govern other applications and OS functions. As such, it argues that removing certain DLLs, to remove IE, would bring the whole system down. During her questioning of David Farber, De Mory used evidence from two of Microsoft’s deposition witnesses. In the first, she showed that Redmond’s own technical expert, Michael Dertouzos, had admitted that browsers historically and today…are treated as applications. Then, turning to the deposition of Hadi Partovi, a Microsoft employee put forward to be a government witness on the grounds of his Windows expertise, she played a tape in which Partovi admitted that certain functionality of IE 4.0 had been moved to a different DLL for IE.5.0- the integrated version. He’s talking about the packaging, Farber said, the fact that he could move that code from one version to the next proves there is a lot of flexibility there. I’m just suggesting that you extend that flexibility so that you [users] can remove things they don’t want. Later, during a press conference, the government’s lead attorney, David Boies said that Dertouzos’s remarks had forced Microsoft to drop him as a witness, a fact vehemently denied by Microsoft’s spokesperson Mark Murray. That is a completely false statement, he said, we had to lose two witnesses in response to the government suddenly introducing two new ones of its own in areas where we hadn’t got people lined up. He went on to dismiss the government attorney’s use of dictionary definitions as pathetic, in an antitrust case the size of this.