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Felten hits back at MS exec Allchin on integration

And an old Kempin-related email sticks its oar in...

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MS on Trial Computer scientist Edward Felten of Princeton was the last of the three rebuttal witnesses for the DoJ. Steve Holtzman of the Department of Justice took him through some of the contentious issues in the testimony of Microsoft vp Jim Allchin, which was described as "questionable". Allchin had said "Yes" in response to the question: "If somebody combined the original retail version of Windows 95 without any browser at all, and the retail version of IE 4, they would get the same rich experience as you describe here, right?" Allchin had also testified that the Windows Update feature wouldn't work if IE was removed from Windows 98. Felten was asked to comment on Allchin's Caldera demo, with OpenLinux and the KDE browser. Allchin had foolishly, and incorrectly, claimed that certain Windows 98 features could only be achieved by so-called integration between Windows and IE, but in the Caldera example, the OS and the browser were separate products, and Allchin's evidence was shown to be false. Allchin had admitted in his testimony that IE4 installed on top of retail Windows 95 would give all the features of the "integrated" version. Up popped Steve Holley, Microsoft's jack-in-the-box counsel, to complain about the mischaracterisation of evidence. Holtzman told Judge Jackson that "The evidence was long, drawn-out... over quite a period of time". "Overruled" said the judge, giving the opportunity for Felten to be led through some features that in fact were not installable from a free-standing version of IE4: HTML help, update Windows, and WebTV. Standalone IE5 did have HTML help and the Windows update, but not WebTV. No panic though: WebTV was an optional feature within Windows 98, showing that any option could be installed separately from Windows 98. Holtzman used MS Office as an example of software that allows functionality to be integrated, but where there is no physical welding together of the capabilities. Allchin in his evidence had tried to justify the inclusion of IE being welded into Windows 98 by claiming it was necessary that it was there to support HTML and HTTP, but Felten could see no reason why users should not have a choice of capabilities - or have them exercised on their behalf by an OEM. The Adobe PDF viewer was cited as an example of a format that was widely with Windows, but not part of it. Allchin had also argued that it was justified to "integrate" IE into Windows 98 because this exposed APIs to software developers. Felten explained how APIs are found in essentially all Microsoft products, and that this was a fallacious argument. Furthermore, many Microsoft products had IE included with them, so that earlier versions could be replaced. Judge Jackson took a particular interest in this, and one could see his Opinion being formulated: since Microsoft includes IE with products like Office, Money, Frontpage, Visualstudio and MSN, it could clearly do the same for Windows - but in such a way as to allow user choice... Another fallacious Allchin argument concerned his view that there was an advantage of a "single install". By denying the option of not having a browser, and by not having an API to allow any browser to be used, user choice was being denied, Felten responded. No DoJ evidence would be complete without the odd damning Microsoft email, and so Holtzman introduced a beauty (alas, the full text is not yet released). After an "offsite" (a way to get people to work at weekends it seems) to discuss IE and Memphis (Windows 97 aka Windows 98), Allchin nervously emailed Paul Maritz and Gates that Joachim Kempin wanted Windows 98 without a browser: "The number one big issue dealt with the Memphis plan. "Paul, Joachim K does not agree with the plan. He plans to raise it with you and Bill. I think that he wants a 'Memphis-like' product (with all the new hardware support) minus IE 4.0 in June. He says that IE 4.0 can be added next year." Felten commented that he thought Kempin believed users wanted Windows 98 without IE, but he did not realise that it was more likely that Kempin saw the possibility of selling the browser. There is a fine line between putting the best interpretation on events and deliberately providing misleading evidence to the court. It will be interesting to see if, in the fullness of time, Allchin is accused of stepping to the wrong side of this line, and charged accordingly. ® Complete Register trial coverage

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