RE: POL: Reaction to Microsoft Ruling

From: Billy Brown (
Date: Thu Apr 06 2000 - 15:42:46 MDT

David Blenkinsop wrote:
> Unfortunately for MS, they seem to have been quite unable to be
> straightforward or forthright about their reasons for managing at least
> one key issue the way that they have. Specifically, as an actual user of
> Win98, I can confidently report that it was totally unnecessary for them
> to insist that a Microsoft web browser be packaged with every copy of
> Windows98 -- in other words, there was no *technical* necessity for then
> to market things that way.
> Maybe this is picky, but I would feel better about MS if they had said
> all along that including the browser was strictly a case of marketing or
> packaging, it being their commercial right not to offer anything less
> than a package deal if they don't want to?

I believe what they actually said was that it is a competitive necessity for
any modern OS to come with a bundled web browser. Since I can't think of a
modern OS that doesn't come with someone's browser, I think this is a
reasonable claim.

> As far as saying that Windows won't run without MS Internet Explorer,
> if MS does things in a way that unnecessarily restricts its customers,
> that counts for more than all the complaints of a thousand competing
> companies, it seems to me.

Well, this is a good example of the MS approach to system optimization.
What happened was once they decided they needed to include the a browser
with every copy of the OS, they started thinking about how to do that
without generating more complaints about code bloat. So, they basically
went through the IE feature list, found everything that duplicated
functionality they wanted to be part of the OS, and started integrating the
duplicated features.

The fact that this lets them claim IE is an essential part of the OS was
probably a factor in their decision, but it makes good technical sense too.
Why implement multiple systems for things like screen rendering, hyperlink
navigation, and XML support if you don't have to?

So, what they have now is a software library that implements almost all of
the IE functionality, and is also used by Windows wherever it presents a
similar feature. The IE program itself is just a thin wrapper around this
functionality. You can remove IE, but you can't get rid of the COM
components that implement most of its features without breaking the system.
OTOH, you can also use those components from your own programs, which is a
nice benefit for ISVs and other sophisticated users of the OS.

> at some point the presumption of customers' intelligence and freedom to
> ought to be placed foremost, don't you think?

I've never understood why people think this is an issue. You are perfectly
free to use any browser you want. You can get rid of the IE icon and menu
item if you want to, and since browsers are free there isn't even a cost
issue involved. So, how is the fact that MS decided to build an HTML engine
into their OS hurting anyone other than Netscape?

Billy Brown

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