RE: POL: Reaction to Microsoft Ruling

From: Billy Brown (
Date: Fri Apr 07 2000 - 15:05:46 MDT

Ross A. Finlayson wrote:
> This action does not remove "Internet Explorer", only the desktop
> shortcut to
> it.

So what? We're talking about novices here, remember? The files that are
actually redundant if you don't use IE only amount to a couple of MB, which
is far to small to affect performance on any machine capable of running
Windows 95 in the first place. Neophytes don't care if there is an extra
file on their hard drive somewhere - they just want the machine to work.

Besides, the initial point was that anyone who wants to can easily run
whichever browser they prefer on Windows. That's the only question there is
any possible legal issue about - the rest of this is just typical griping
about how you want a feature the vendor didn't give you.

> If you paid some place claiming to provide world peace, an investment
stake, or
> whatever, then you would expect the ability to do with it as you please
after it
> is in your possession, or in the case of world peace, to get some world
> So, I am aware that the license agreement is not agreed to by the general
> because by the time they purchase the PC it is already installed, so that
> are receiving on their PC software for which they have paid money and it
is then
> in their possession.
> The point here is that Microsoft has received money for the privilege of
> the operating system installed already.

First off, buying a copy of Windows (or any other commercial software) does
NOT mean that you own the program. All you have purchased is the right to
use the software. You don't have a god-given right to be able to do
anything you please with it.

Second, Microsoft does not claim that Windows has every possible feature
imaginable. They advertise a finite list of particular features, which you
have the option of buying if you consider them worthwhile. If you don't
think they offer the right features, you can buy a different OS. If other
people agree with you, eventually MS will either go out of business or
deliver the features you want.

Third, if your objection is the fact that Windows comes pre-installed on
your computer, then your complaint is properly with the hardware
manufacturer. If they don't give you the option, buy from a different
company (there are plenty of build-to-order outfits that will pre-install a
different OS, or just give you a naked system). If you have trouble finding
a vendor that will do this, perhaps you should consider the possibility that
this is due to actual consumer preferences rather than some kind of sinister

> So, in terms of cars, if I buy some automobile and want to replace parts
of the
> engine, this is possible, although I'm not an expert mechanic so would not
> attempt that. In the frame of reference of computers, though, say I want
> chop out 95% of the network stack, everything except the driver code for
> hardware peripheral configuration, user interface libs and kernel32 and
> and perhaps a very few other things, and those basic system processes
> been fine-tuned to eliminate bloat, then that is a good thing to want for
what I
> have paid for it. For the car I can get the specifications.
> I think it is not so difficult, not to say I think I could have it done in
> week, to have a list of the dependencies of each software module and a
> program to remove a bunch of them.

Your car is simple enough that a single human being could conceivably modify
it to a significant degree. Windows isn't.

I see this attitude a lot in Linux enthusiasts, and it always amuses me
because it reveals a deep lack of appreciation for the scale of software we
are talking about. The number of interactions between different software
components increases exponentially as the size of a program increases. On a
<100 KLOC project the kind of modification you are talking about is
feasible, because the system is simple enough that the effort required to
verify all those different instalaltion options actually work is not
unreasonably large.

On a >1 MLOC system like Window this same approach is simply not feasible.
The effort required to identify every dependency, create alternant operating
modes for each possible set of installation options, and then test all of
these different combinations, would be much larger than the effort required
to write the OS in the first place. In essence, you're complaining that MS
didn't spend an extra billion dollars on a feature that 95% of their
customers don't even want.

Billy Brown

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