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With Microsoft's quantum licensing, many parallel universes are possible

All at once

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The Beast of Redmond could yet confound attempts to scrutinize its monopoly with an escape strategy of fiendish cunning. It's so cunning, in fact, that no regulator will be able to keep track.

The following discrepancies in very recent Microsoft intellectual property disclaimers have come to our attention.

Exhibit One: an advisory RFC entitled Utilizing the Windows 2000 Authorization Data in Kerberos Tickets for Access Control to Resources", submitted by Microsoft's IETF point man, John Brezak.

The opening paragraph reads:-

"This document is an Internet-Draft and is subject to all provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026 [1] except that the right to create derivative works is not granted."

Now examine Exhibit Two: "HTTP Authentication: SPNEGO Access Authentication As implemented in Microsoft Windows 2000.

It's also an RFC advisory, and another submission on the same technical area. You'll note that the boilerplate text is subtly different: there's no clause prohibiting "derivative works". So far, so interesting, but bear with us gentle readers.

Exhibit Three is Exhibit One, only hosted at the Microsoft web site. With one important difference: there's no clause banning "derivative works".

In other words, the same Microsoft license has appeared at two ends of the universe simultaneously, give or take a few important particles. But which one is correct?

That's a question that has interested physicists for sixty years, and the answer, of course, is that they both are.

Only by slipping through a wormhole in the space-time continuum are we able to see both licenses at once. Quantum theory had this all pretty much mapped out, we're pleased to report. Although how the regulators will deal with this startling new development, we can't say. They'll need parallel regulatory agencies to police each universe that Microsoft inhabits. Or something like that.

Either way, we think it's a first. Skeptics who sneer that there's no innovation going on up in Redmond can eat their hats. ®

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