How MS ‘publishes’ Java code by burying it
I've shoved it on MSDN among 37 old files, and there's no index, says helpful gofer
MS on Trial As the first phase of the antitrust trial drew to a close on Friday DoJ attorney David Boies contrived what appeared to be a neat exposure of the Microsoft dirty tricks department's Java activities. At least two Microsoft employees, it appears, took the view that Microsoft could fulfill its contractual obligations to ship software by burying it somewhere on a Web site, and making it practically impossible to find. "There will be no entry in the index for this file," one says. "They'll have to stumble across it to know it's there." The document was produced by Boies in his redirect examination after Microsoft's attorney's had helped company senior VP Robert Muglia explain what Bill Gates had meant when he wrote: "I am hardcore about NOT shipping JDK 1.2." Muglia had said: "I did also remind Bill that as a part of that contract [the Java one with Sun] we don't have to ship the Sun APIs inside Windows, inside our products. We have the ability to put them on our Web site." So Bill had been worried about putting JDK 1.2 in Microsoft's products, whereas in Muglia's view, posting on the Web constitutes shipping. Note, however, that Muglia accepts that Microsoft was contractually obliged to ship JDK 1.2, but says that Microsoft had not ever had to decide whether or not it will support it, because "Sun, in violation of our contract, has not delivered it to us." Sun of course hasn't shipped it because it says Microsoft is in violation of the contract. But then Boies came on to help demonstrate how Microsoft was 'complying' with the contract. Boies brought up the subject of Russ Arun; Muglia confirmed he knew him , and that he was a development and test manager who'd been involved with Microsoft's JVM. Boies noted that the notorious "pollute Java" document had been found in Arun's files, although Muglia insisted that "Mr Arun doesn't establish Java policy. That's not really his job." Boies then produced a series of emails relating to the publication of RMI bits, and while Muglia didn't absolutely accept that, pending Sun's legal action, Microsoft was obliged to publish these under its contract, he confirmed that Sun takes the position that this is so. In the emails, in late August Arun sends one concerning RMI bits, and Brad Abrams responds with a description of where he'd put them, and "There will be no entry in the index for this file. They'll have to stumble across it to know it's there." Boies: "And then he's got another location, FTP colon two reverse slashes and some more symbols, and microsoft.com slash development dash MSDN and some more letters. Then he says, 'Is where I put it on the Internet with 37 other old files in this directory, I'd say it's pretty buried.'" Arun mails back three minutes later and says, "Awesome, thanks." But it got worse. Muglia still tried to argue that this didn't mean Arun was involved in deciding what to post on the Internet regarding the Java contract, and dug himself in further with: "This was before we actually shipped our Java virtual machine … Before we actually ship JDK 1.1, and our Java contract obligations, as I understand them, for posting on the Internet are with final products. So in this time frame I believe it was still a beta version of it. Now, when the final version was released… I directed that it be put at a place which would be very straightforward for a developer to find." JDK 1.1 was released in October of 1997, so at this point Boies was able to cast some more doubts. One of the emails (late August, remember) says: "I will put it back October 1," and "We should not post this before September 30. Can you sit on it until then." It's not entirely clear what all this means. Boies was able to make the point that the time frame suggested the emails were talking about shipping code, rather than beta, but Muglia insisted it was about beta code, and that the shipping code had on his say-so gone up prominently. But he was forced to concede the point that it was being at least proposed to put the code in a place where people couldn't find it: "For in a beta release time frame, yes." Then Boies finishes up with the coup de grace: "OK, and were you aware, prior to my showing you this, that there had been this proposal, in your language, to hide it?" Muglia: Yes I was. Boies: If you were aware of it when I asked you whether Mr Arun was at all involved in deciding where to post things on the web in connection with your obligations to the contract, why did you tell me no? Muglia: I don't remember that that was the question that you asked. For the record, Muglia didn't entirely say no when Boies first asked the question. What he said was: "I don't know if he had any responsibility involved in that. He certainly didn't make any strategic decisions about it, but he may or may not have decided what particular files were put on the web site at various points in time." ® Complete Register trial coverage
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