NCI dislikes proprietary standards

No freedom to innovate,firm says in trial deposition

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David Limp, the VP of marketing for Network Computers Inc, was subpoenaed by Microsoft and interrogated in July by Stephanie Wheeler for Microsoft. In effect, Limp gave her a brief tutorial, and in answer to a question made the case for a GUI being optionally part of an operating system, preferring himself to think of it being an application. The deposition was only of marginal value to the DoJ, showing essentially that Internet software could be chosen from a menu. For example, IBM had licensed NCI's modification of Navigator for its Net Stations. Wheeler had evidently not previously heard of Free BSD, so her question as to whether it was "available for licensing from sources other than NCI" was unlikely to earn her much respect at Fort Redmond. She must have been puzzled when she found out that NCI's browser could be removed without harming the operating system. One of the more wacky questions was asked by an unidentified DoJ or state lawyer: "How would it affect NCI if Java and HTML were to become proprietary standards, and NCI were not the company to control those standards?" Limp: "So NCI doesn't control the standard at all? So that's the first part of the question that doesn't really ring perfect. The second part of the question is that you used the term that's in the industry, which is an oxymoron, by definition, which is proprietary standard, so I probably should define that. There's often times where standards are -- start as standards, but because they become ubiquitous by one vendor, that they're taken over, and it's happened many times. “SNA architecture from IBM, their networking architecture, is an example of where a proprietary standard was created. Everybody uses it, but one vendor controls it. "However, if HTML and JavaScript, or Java for that matter, became under the auspice of one vendor, whoever it would be, it would hamper our ability to innovate, and we innovate in the form of the web in many ways because we take a browser from Netscape -- they're doing a lot of the innovation for us -- then we repackage it and rewrap it and that kind of thing, and then we add our own innovation around it. “But if there wasn't multiple people out there driving the standard and that kind of thing, then we would be hampered completely. You know, we wouldn't be able to innovate anymore. It would be impossible”.®

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