comment on curious Microsoft coding in the RISKS digest

Eric Watt Forste (
Mon, 20 Oct 1997 16:46:17 -0700

This information claims to be from the RISKS digest, which is a
reputable moderated digest, but I haven't checked to see whether
the attribution is legit. I decided to send it on to y'all
anyway since the list volume has been so low lately.

(BTW: While we're feuding with the InterNIC, send your posts to and NOT to, even
though the latter is the preferred long-term address. I hope that
the problems with InterNIC are just a temporary "sickness", but
the InterNIC is not exactly a competitive consumer-friendly business.)


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Forwarded-by: Lloyd Wood <>

from RISKS 19.41. Date: Fri, 10 Oct 1997 21:41:18 -0700 (PDT) From: "Bryan O'Sullivan" <> Subject: Risks of installing Internet Explorer 4.0 I just downloaded and installed Microsoft Internet Exploder 4.0 onto my PC running Windows 95 at home. Among the optional features that come with this release are a few tidbits that were included with Plus!, the mostly-useless set of bells and whistles that was packaged separately from Windows 95.

Two of these features are opaque window manipulation (when you move or resize a window, the entire window moves in real time, rather than a rubberband representation being tweaked) and anti-aliasing of large fonts. The anti-aliasing feature is quite useful; it makes fonts in large point sizes noticeably less pixelated. However, in this feature lies a small, and somewhat malicious, piece of code.

This snippet of code apparently checks to see whether it is being asked to render a font by the Netscape Navigator browser (or, indeed, any component of the Communicator 4.x suite). If it is, it gives back a plain old jagged-edged font; otherwise, in every instance I have been able to check, it gives back an anti-aliased font.

This appears to be a clear instance of discriminatory coding on the part of Microsoft, and is intended, one presumes, to make Navigator look somewhat cruddy in comparison with MSIE (not to mention all of the other software on a system). It begs a troubling question: what other features were included in MSIE 4.0 that were intended to, in some sense, impede the software of Microsoft's competitors?

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