February 19, 2019

Dissecting Microsoft's Rebuttal - page 3

Looking at the Testimony of Compaq's Capellas

  • June 4, 2000
  • By Paul Ferris
  • 7. Allowing OEMs to remove components of Windows (such as Internet Explorer and DirectX) would destroy the integrity of Windows as a development platform. Customers want to know that all of the APIs relied on by the Windows applications they use are supported by the version of the operating system installed on their new machine. That would not be true if OEMs started removing components of Windows that exposed APIs to developers.

Your statement here totally ignores the fact that a consumer faced with such problems are free to go out and purchase these components from Microsoft--or possibly others. Windows applications often install all the components they need anyway, regardless of the fact that this is a poor operating-system design idea. If there were truly open standards, well documented and accessible by the public at large, any company would be free to make additions to Microsoft Windows that would be virtually guaranteed to work out of the box.

Your statement is flawed because this "open standard" Windows is not an open standard. If Microsoft made the specifications to their so-called operating system truly open, then software delivered from any source--not just Microsoft--could and eventually would be as "reliable" for consumers to use.

In general, APIs are not removable--they are part of an operating-system design. Internet Explorer may provide some things that look like APIs to developers, but those APIs are not operating system APIs. Those APIs are part of Internet Explorer--an application. If a product needs Internet Explorer to function, then that should be part of the requirements on the side of the products box, and a consumer should have the right to make a choice elsewhere. As it sits today, if a consumer wishes to run Netscape Navigator or the Opera browser, they are presented with Internet Explorer anyway.

Where is the choice there? Where is justice for the consumer in no choice at all? Who are you to decide what consumers wish, when your company is motivated to support the status quo, a system that forces consumers to regularly go out and purchase new hardware to support inefficient operating-system design choices?

  • 9. Forcing Microsoft to disclose technical information simultaneously to everyone in the computer industry would prevent the sorts of cooperative development efforts that have led to important innovations like Plug-and-Play. Such cooperative development cannot occur in public where competitors are free to appropriate the resulting technology for use in their products.

Plug and Play from Microsoft was not an innovation--it was an "integration." This is a poor example of innovation. Plug and Play technology was demonstrated and realized by Amiga and Apple long before Microsoft ever got the clue of how good the idea was and what a benefit it would be to their customers.

Development efforts aimed at the consumer desktop that are to be future standards must occur in full view of public who will be affected most by those standards. The public will benefit, the manufacturers will benefit.

The idea that Microsoft should be allowed to make proprietary standards for the masses without truly documenting them for everyone to use is a broken one. It has led to a chicken-and-egg scenario whereby only Microsoft is allowed to trickle new ideas down to consumers. In the meantime, people that truly come up with good ideas risk those ideas being stolen or cheaply imitated, because they cannot compete at the same level as Microsoft.

In a truly open and competitive market, one where innovation can spring from any company or even any individual, such as what goes in in the Open Source movement. Compaq and all of the PC OEMs of today will have a host of ideas to choose from, a veritable smorgasboard of choices in the software arena, but hopefully just a few in the standards arena.

  • 10. OEMs and their customers benefit from Microsoft's addition of new features and functionality into its operating system, making it more capable and easier to use. Compaq does the same thing with its Tru-64 UNIX operating system because that is what customers want. Restricting Microsoft's ability to improve Windows in competition with other operating systems would not help consumers.

I have to totally agree that OEM's and customers alike benefit from new features being added to an operating system, such as Windows or even your Tru-64 Unix. I don't see what this has to do with today, however, as:

  • Tru-64 Unix doesn't compete at all in the same space as any Microsoft product.
  • Microsoft hasn't made big gains in Windows usability over the past 7 or so years.
  • There is no real competition with Windows in the desktop space at all. There needs to be--that's what this trial is all about.
  • What your customers really want is a choice. What they want is something that works. What they want is quality, at a reasonable price. Today they don't have that choice. Hopefully, tomorrow, they will.
  • What the DOJ is trying to do is to restore competition--not restrict it.

Throughout the trial, there has been a lot of misleading testimony by Microsoft's own people, including video tape that was tampered with to produce results favorable to Microsoft. This testimony that you are providing here is incredibly disappointing from the standpoint of a consumer. I will consider it in the future when I recommend products to people, and when I buy them for myself.

Without true competition, without choice, the public suffers, and so does Compaq. One of the reasons your Tru-64 operating system is relegated to server duty stems from the fact that you would not be able to even dream of competing with Microsoft for the desktop space. The APIs that you so dearly defend above are outside of your grasp--no applications of consumer use will ever be made for the product.

At least today this is the scenario.

I hope that tomorrow, despite things like this testimony, things may be different.

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