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."