States Challenge Microsoft Witness

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2002-05-01 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Lawyers for the non-settling states continued to challenge definitions made by Microsoft Corp.'s technology witness on various terms relating to the remedy proposals in its antitrust case.

WASHINGTON—Lawyers for the non-settling states on Wednesday continued to challenge definitions made by Microsoft Corp.s technology witness on various terms relating to the remedy proposals in its antitrust case. The states continued in an attempt to show Stuart Madnick, a professor of engineering and information technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has demonstrated confusing and conflicting views of what constitute key concepts in the case.
In essence, the states attorney, Kevin Hodges, pushed Madnick on his definitions of both middleware and what constitutes an operating system. Hodges pointed out that Madnicks definition of middleware differed from that of the U.S. Court of Appeals opinion in the case and also from some of Microsofts own definitions in the case.
Madnick did not provide a definition of middleware in his testimony. "Middleware as I understand it in the general industry is quite different than the way its been used in the trial," he said. In a report Madnick wrote for Microsoft, he characterized middleware this way: "The most common use of middleware in the industry is software that lets different applications software communicate with one another." However, the Court of Appeals define middleware as "software that exposes its own APIs." Hodges then attempted to ask Madnick whether various software components at issue in the case could be considered middleware, such as the Java runtime environment and the Windows Media Player. Madnick resisted these questions, asking for repetition of the question and to read passages of testimony or other documents related to the issue. Then Hodges pointed out that Microsoft itself defined its media player as middleware. Madnick acknowledged that, but held that his definition was technically correct.
During earlier hearings on the case, John Warden, a Microsoft attorney told U.S, District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly that Microsoft had decided to include media players in its definition of middleware as a concession to the U.S. Department of Justice and the settling states as part of the settlement the parties crafted. Madnick said he believed "almost any piece of software, by the non-settling states definition, becomes middleware, and that seems extreme to me." Hodges continued to press Madnick on just what middleware could be. He asked: Do you agree that software could be middleware even if it does not expose a full set of APIs needed by general purpose applications?" Madnick replied: "I think the issue is somewhat like the issue of interoperability in that its a continuum." Madnick testified earlier Wednesday that he believed interoperability was a continuum—not something that could be defined as one specific thing, but that it was different things to different users. Madnick said he identified 6,500 APIs provided by Windows that could constitute middleware. In a subsequent exchange, Hodges challenged Madnick on his definition of what an operating system was as opposed to an operating system product and an operating system kernel. In his testimony, Madnick had challenged the states technical experts definition of what constitutes an operating system. But Madnick said the states witness definition was confusing. "I found that confusing, how he had it both ways." Madnick earlier said "one of the difficulties with the non-settling states remedy" is that he found it "very tough to answer with any precision" just what parts of Microsofts Windows should be considered part of the operating system or part of the browser. Indeed, one of Madnicks exhibits accompanying his testimony shows a diagram of components that make up Windows. He depicted it as a wall and said that taking out various pieces of code that rely on other pieces would cause the wall to fall.
 
 
 
 
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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