Win95 – is it just Dos 7 plus Windows 4 after all?
The judge thinks it could be...
MS on Trial Brad Silverberg, who is now surely rich enough to hire somebody to work his shift key for him, was concerned early on about how to make DR-DOS run badly, or preferably, not run at all. He emailed Barrett on 27 September 1991: "can you tell me specifically what we're going to do to bind ourselves closer to ms dos? ... Let me emphasize the importance; ibm is going to announce the drdos deal at comdex (almost certain)." Barrett replied: "The approach... is to use a vxd to 'extend' dos by patching it. ... We would not patch unknown OSs and, most likely, would only patch MS DOS 5.x. The big advantage here is that it provides a legitimate performance improvement. However, it wont prevent us from running on foreign OSs (unless we explicitly decide to refuse to run) - they just wont run as fast. Is this the approach you want to take? Or would you prefer a simple check and refuse to run? Thats a lot easier but clearly quite defeatable. I'll come talk to you about it." Silverberg responded, "let's talk." As he later drove development of Chicago, which would become Windows 95, Silverberg had plenty more to talk about, and the claimed illegal tying together of Dos and Windows to form Windows 95 is a key part of Caldera's case. In support of Caldera's standing to bring a technological tying case under sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, and section 3 of the Clayton Act, an internal Microsoft strategy document dated 16 June 1992 admitted that Novell was its biggest threat: "Novell is after the desktop. As you know, they have acquired Digital Research and are now working hard to tightly integrate DR-DOS with NetWare. We should also assume they are working on a Windows clone and/or that they are working on a virtualised DOS environment which will run standard mode Windows as a client. This is perhaps our biggest threat. We must respond in a strong way by making Chicago a complete Windows operating system, from boot-up to shut-down. There will be no place or need on a Chicago machine for DR-DOS (or any DOS)." In 1993, Microsoft's view of Novell was enough to make anybody's blood run cold, and it's a perfect example of the thinking that has propelled Microsoft to its present position. The statement is attributed by Judge Benson to "Microsoft executives" and no doubt in the fullness of time we shall know the identity of the would-be assassins. The message says: "If you're going to kill someone there isn't much reason to get all worked up about it and angry--you just pull the trigger. ... We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger." As regards the tying together of MS-DOS and Windows into Win95, in an extremely surprising analysis, Judge Benson rejected the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit's 1998 interpretation, and put forward the his own conclusion. He accepted that the evidence Caldera presented was sufficient to merit the view that Windows 95 effectively consisted of Windows 4.0 and MS-DOS 7.0, and that the matter could be presented to the jury. The future of this case does not bode well for Microsoft. ® Conclusion: DR-DOS is terrific, says MS tester Back to start
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