Users Are Split Over a Modular Windows

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2002-03-12 Print this article Print

Corporate users are divided over the merits of a proposal that would force Microsoft to offer a stripped-down version of Windows as retribution for its antitrust transgressions.

Corporate users are divided over the merits of a proposal that would force Microsoft Corp. to offer a stripped-down version of Windows as retribution for its antitrust transgressions. The nine states and the District of Columbia, which refused to accept the proposed settlement between Microsoft and the Department of Justice, last week asked the Washington, D.C., District Court to require Microsoft to produce a modular version of Windows. Such a version would come without a range of middleware and applications, including Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player, and would be offered along with a fully integrated version. Some corporate users, such as Scott Hoffman, lead computer operator at Fairview Health Services, in Minneapolis, would welcome a Windows version that allows users to load middleware and applications of choice.
"It would be nice to know exactly what was running on the system and to be able to determine the performance of the software. There is too much added that I dont need. Also, not having to worry about Outlook-borne viruses would be a plus," Hoffman said. "Each piece that is added by an OEM or Microsoft just makes it more complex to handle from an average users perspective."
Brennen Paproski, a Systems Management Server administrator for Saskatoon District Health, in Saskatchewan, agreed. "I would love a stripped-down version of Windows," Paproski said. "In the professional environment, we dont need all the bells and whistles, just a streamlined operating system." Other users, such as Eric Peckham, president of AccuSolve Inc., in Riverton, Utah, are more comfortable with the full versions. "Ive come to rely on certain applications, like Internet Explorer, Outlook Express and Windows Media Player, as part of the operating system," he said. "As a software author, I would be disappointed if things like Internet Explorer and other applications were removed. Some of my applications use the built-in IE functionality," Peckham said. In a recent deposition as part of the ongoing litigation between Microsoft and the dissenting states, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said it was technically impossible to remove middleware or pieces of the operating system such as IE without ruining Windows performance. But others said it is feasible for Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., to develop a modular operating system. "From a technical standpoint, Microsoft has no real excuse for not removing their components," said John Persinger, internal network administrator for Source4 Communications Inc., in Roanoke, Va. "Granted, there would be significant challenges around restructuring the interoperability of the operating system, but removing components like IE is entirely possible." Tim Sagstetter, president of Kernel Software Inc., in Wausau, Wis., said a "Windows Lite" would appeal to PC makers as it would help reduce costs. "A Lite version would also appeal to large enterprises," Sagstetter said. "But I think it would be a mistake to offer this kind of flexibility to the typical Windows customer. Resellers would then be left telling customers that the reason a feature or program did not work was that they saved $50 by buying Windows XP Lite instead of Windows XP Pro."
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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