A federal judge has ruled Microsoft has to supply the computer code for its Windows program to a group of states seeking stiffer antitrust sanctions against the software giant. Nine state attorneys general had argued that they needed to see the Windows source code in order to verify Microsoft's claim it could not offer a simpler version of the Windows personal computer operating system, stripped of features like the Internet Explorer browser.
This is absolutely the stupidest thing I've heard of in quite some time. First of all, by various estimates, Windows 2000 contains 30 million to 40 million lines of code and was developed over years with a team of thousands of people. Windows source code is written in a language based mostly on C++, a relatively archaic computer language where most modern programming techniques are awkward add-ons to the language C. I say based mostly on C++ because almost all software companies develop a "custom" programming language to make the things they do most frequently easier. Should the government actually decide to go through with this horrible idea they are going to need hundreds of programmers, (who aren't cheap, thank God) to comb through this behemoth of an operating system. That way they can get an unbiased account of what the code actually contains. However, to get programmers who truly know what they are doing they are going to need to be proficient in the differences between C++ and Microsoft's custom language, in other words, they will need programmers employed by Microsoft. Ah, the wonder that is our government.
What the government wants to undergo is a task that is nearly impossible. I know C++ and I could hide a feature in 300 lines of code (I often inadvertently hide stuff on myself that I don't want, which leads to hours of blissful debugging.) let alone 30 to 40 million lines of code. Not to mention the fact that in addition to Windows 2000 the government plans to look through the source code of Windows NT and Windows XP. That, my three readers, is hella lot of code.
Besides, like contraction in baseball, stripping Windows of features isn't going to solve the problem. Embedding Internet Explorer (IE) into the operating system is a good thing. I know as a person who has been converted from Netscape to IE based simply on load time. If you have both conduct an experiment; Open up IE and then Netscape and see which one opens faster. Do you know why that is? Its because IE is preloaded during the seven and a half hour process of loading the operating system, which is what happens while your computer starts up. That way you only wait once instead of each and every time you want it to load. Which is good for the many people who leave the computer on 24/7.
What the government needs to watch for is when Microsoft doesn't allow competitors software to run properly. It doesn't need to strip Windows of all its neat features so the "little guy's" have a chance. It's the equivalent of Big Brother stepping in and saying to Ford or Chevy, we don't like all these "standard" features. You are no longer allowed to put power anything in the cars. That way the customer has the choice of where to get the power components from.
I don't mean to sound like I am defending Microsoft. The jury is still out on how I feel about Microsoft. There is no doubt it is a monopoly but as far as everything else is concerned I don't have enough information to form an opinion. I do however know this is a horrible horrible idea.
-Jeremy Lindgren writes articles at random for Page 3
The 'Man' says, "Hand it over Bill"