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MS IE source code give away: the WSJ changes its mind

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MS on Trial The strange thing about yesterday's Wall Street Journal story on Internet Explorer was that although it seemed one of the paper's better scoops, it wasn't getting promoted. As a matter of fact, it was being steadily downplayed towards oblivion through the day. But now all is revealed - sort of; the WSJ published it by accident. Through gritted teeth a spokesman told the deadly rival New York Times: "The story was not ready for publication and should not have been posted." The story had made it to the WSJ Interactive, but didn't go into the print edition, and didn't escape via Dow Jones Newswire either.* It had claimed that the DoJ and the states were considering asking for Microsoft to be forced to give away Internet Explorer source code licences, royalty free, as part of a comprehensive remedies package, but of course the WSJ's rapid back-tracking raises questions about the story's accuracy. Or does it? It's almost inevitable that the story emanated from a source in or close to the government camp, so it still seems likely that the 'give away IE' option is at least under consideration, if not on the table. It seems far more likely that the story was pulled because the source had placed restrictions on the use of the information, but that these had been ignored in error. Or that a draft of a story in preparation had escaped early. Microsoft however was quick to claim, somewhat disingenuously, that the whole thing was silly. Spokesman Mark Murray said that the notion was "illogical" because Microsoft already gave IE away for free. He does of course studiously fail to register that there's a huge difference between giving out free products and giving away the source so OEMs and developers can modify it. But he would, wouldn't he? ® Related stories: MS may be forced to give away IE source code * The WSJ story also escaped via our good friends at ZDNet US, who republished it with due attribution to the WSJ Interactive and the author. Our friends at Cyberchump Central, ZDNet UK, swiftly pounced on it and republished it too. But the attributed it to ZDNet US, and didn't credit the WSJ or the author. Cyberchump Central has however had an uncharacteristic lucky break here, as although the Mighty Dow ordinarily would surely come down on them like a ton of bricks for this kind of goof, as it now wishes the story hadn't happened... ®

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