I don’t usually send mail to technology commentato…

I don’t usually send mail to technology commentators, but I saw an editorial in today’s issue of Windows Web Solutions UPDATE that I just had to respond to.

You can see the original text by going here and selecting the Mar 12, 2002 issue. The particular section is the editorial titled “A World Without Windows”.

I replied as follows:
I was a bit disappointed by the editorial you wrote for the most recent Windows Web Solutions UPDATE (3/12/2002). I have come to expect a fairly decent level of reporting and opinion but was really surprised to see this issue. That was not a good surprise.

Windows Web Solutions UPDATE writes:
> Recently, Tom Miller, attorney general of Iowa, one of the nine
> nonsettling states, described the revisions as “only minor
> modifications,” with one exception: a stripped-down version of Windows.
> “As a result of discovery, we have concluded that, in addition to
> Microsoft’s fully integrated version of the operating system, the
> company should be required to offer a modular version that will allow
> equipment manufacturers and others to make their own decisions on
> adding middleware products that consumers want such as browsers or
> media players,” Miller said in a statement. “Microsoft therefore would
> not be required to provide numerous versions of the operating system.”
>
> In my opinion, Miller’s statement sums up the ignorance of lawyers who
> try to better the world with technology edicts from on high. Can you
> imagine the resulting chaos if Microsoft is forced to produce a
> stripped-down modular version of its OS in which anyone–not just
> hardware OEMs–can add their own spice to the soup? To administrators,
> just the thought of supporting a Dell version of Windows, a Compaq
> version of Windows, an Intuit version of Windows, and Johnny Choi’s
> computer paradise version of Windows is a nightmare. And forget about
> hardware compatibility and Windows’ hardware autodiscovery; we’d end up
> with the Dell NIC for Windows and the Gateway USB modem for Windows.

The remedy put forth by the non-settling states does not contain any requests specific to the hardware layer. The remedy does have specific implications regarding middleware that is required to install with the rest of the OS and is really extraneous to the function of that operating system. At this stage I think it is very difficult to argue whether Internet Explorer can be safely removed with the extent that it has been commingled with the rest of the OS but applications such as MSN Messenger, Outlook Express, and Windows Media Player really do not provide any core functionality to the OS and in many cases are not desired by either users or administrators for a wide variety of reasons.

In fact, in almost every environment that I have worked in for the past 9 years the standard practice is to wipe a machine as soon as it’s out of the box and install an OS image that is built for the particular environment that it will be running in.

Having a striped down version of windows to install would actually be a boon to many administrators as it could allow much easier customization of that OS image since it would allow us to not have to figure out some byzantine method of removing a particular bundled piece of middleware that we do not want.

In these days of rampant network security concerns I see it as the responsibility of a vendor to allow an administrator to disable, or, in this case, not even install applications that may create security problems in the long term if they are peripheral to the function of the actual application or OS. At this time it is incredibly difficult to this with the current Windows installs, and in some cases is impossible. Given the choice between having to add an application that was desired to an image and having to patch an application that we couldn’t get rid of just to keep it from becoming a serious vulnerability, I think that the choice is fairly obvious.

In my detailed and concerned following of the current litigation I have not seen any evidence to support your assertion that hardware compatibility would disappear. Hardware compatibility is part of the core of the operating system and would be unaffected by removal of such trivial things as MSN Messenger or Outlook Express. Completely aside from that, your inane example of a “Dell NIC for Windows and the Gateway USB modem for Windows” is already existent in the market as it stands! Different devices have different drivers and a stripped down version of windows will never fix the issue or make the issue worse since Microsoft does not write most of the drivers in the first place. While a unified driver would certainly be handy, they only exist in isolated cases in the current environment and should one exist it wouldn’t come from Microsoft anyway.

> In court papers filed on March 1, Microsoft pointed out that the
> nonsettling states’ proposed remedy could force the company to pull
> Windows from the market. As a result, most newly purchased desktop PCs
> wouldn’t ship with an OS. Even worse, Microsoft would no longer provide
> support for desktop Ross.

The proposed remedy would not require Microsoft to remove their existing product, it would require them to add an additional product that is less expensive and does not contain as much bundled middleware. This is stated implicitly in the proposed remedy. What actions Microsoft decides to threaten with is an entirely different matter, that is what these statements amount to: Threats from an organization that is trying to defend itself.

Thank you for your time and attention.

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Author: Cavorter

Recently divorced SWM seeks, um, stuff. (Formerly used the handle: Glyph)