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Judge quizzes Maritz over browser separation

Maritz decided not to separate them, but that suggests it was feasible

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Some of the antritrust trial documentation shows folks at MS apparently treating the browser and the shell separately, and suggesting they might charge for it, to boot. Paul Maritz was confronted by this little difficulty yesterday. Hewas quizzed about an email exchange where Yusuf Mehdi raises the matter of internal plans to ship the shell and browser separately, and to charge for the shell at retail. An earlier version of this plan seems to have been favoured by Brad Silverberg, at least until Bill flamed him. Judge Jackson pursued this matter, and asked Maritz how the two could have been split. Maritz replied that it would be a packaging-related question, but that some software engineering would be necessary. He added that it wasn't simple to split the two, and that he personally had decided against splitting in order not to delay shipment of IE 4.0. This may have been a little misleading. The 'ship the shell and browser separately' debate had originated in late 1995, so between then and the Mehdi-Maritz exchange (July 1997) the browser and shell probably got themselves a lot more entangled, code-wise. The proposals to ship separately had however been revived by then, which is why Mehdi is concerned. Maritz does indeed have some responsibility for deciding not to ship separately, but the way he puts it in his response to Mehdi is rather different from the way he put it to the judge yesterday. "I also said 'no' on the proposal to charge separately for the Shell," he tells his subordinate. There are a couple of factoids embedded in that statement. First, it confirms that a proposal existed, and suggests it got far enough to be formally turned down. Second, it implies that Maritz sees no technical difficulties in separating the two (which he's referring to as separate) at this late stage in development. He canned it for marketing reasons, not technical. He goes on in the email to stress the importance of continuing to put dollars into pushing IE, and it seems pretty clear that he made this marketing decision in response to pressure from some sections of Microsoft to start getting pay-back from IE development. That is, by charging for the shell. ® Complete Register trial coverage

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