Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/1999/06/11/doj_expert_there/

DoJ expert: there are 3,000 bugs in Win98

Or if we can multiply right, there could be 21,000...

By John Lettice

Posted in Business, 11th June 1999 12:22 GMT

MS on Trial Could this be true? In court yesterday government witness Edward Felten, he of the IE uninstall program, claimed that he'd found 3,000 bugs tagged by Microsoft programmers in the version of Windows 98 source code he'd looked at. And the code he was dealing with only amounted to one seventh of Win98 in total. Felten had just had a possible bug in his own program sprung on him by Microsoft's lawyers, and was protesting that bugs in software are by no means unusual. Indeed not, if his 3k figure is correct. But there is - probably - no need for Windows 98 users to panic. Felten had access to the source under a court order so that he could produce a prototype program which demonstrated that IE could be removed safely from Windows 98. He did this towards the end of last year, so must have been using the original shipping version of the source. All of those lovely bugs presumably will be ironed out when the service pack, which is finished but not available, can be got hold of. And Felten's bug? You'll recall that the previous section of the trial saw a battle royal between Felten and Microsoft exec Jim Allchin. Allchin produced a demo video designed to show that Felten's program didn't work properly, but the demo was exposed as having been massaged, and hopelessly unscientific. Microsoft retired, wearing egg. Yesterday saw what you might call a completely unabashed hopelessly unscientific counter-attack. Microsoft attorney Steve Holley whipped out a Toshiba notebook he claimed had just been bought, and demanded that Felten install his program on it there and then. Felten protested that other stuff that came preloaded on the Tosh might interfere with his program, but the judge told him to go ahead anyway. He seems to have adopted something of a patronising and indulgent tone: "Holley really wants to run this program," he said, shaking his head. He installed the program, 'removed' IE but then when Holley told him to press control/N, wham! Internet Explorer popped up. "I don't know how it got there," Felten bleated. And how many times, gentle reader, have you thought that about some MS software you were sure you'd already vaped? But what does it prove? Frankly, Holley was flogging the proverbial dead horse. Felten has set out to show that IE functionality is not necessary in order for Windows 98 to run, and he's done that fairly effectively. The point here is that Microsoft could ship browser and operating system separately if it wanted to. Microsoft's counter-argument to this is that the functionality of the operating system is greatly increased by integration, but the company has by no means proved it. That's the territory they should be fighting over, whereas what Holley was doing yesterday was trying to show that Felten's program didn't remove IE entirely. But as the long-suffering witness keeps saying, he never said it did that - he says the program shows that it could be removed. Oh, and as every time we do a story about Felten's uninstaller people ask us if we've heard of 98lite. Yes we have. ® Complete Register trial coverage