Expert Witness Says Unbound Windows Impossible

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2002-05-02
 
 
 

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The states proposal calling for Microsoft Corp. to deliver a modular, or "unbound," version of Windows is impossible, according to the companys technical expert witness.

Stuart Madnick, a professor of information technology and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, testified Thursday that Microsoft would not be able to comply with the states proposal.

In his written testimony in the U.S District Court case, in which the District of Columbia and nine states that didnt sign on to the settlement between the U.S. Justice Department and Microsoft last year are seeking harsher penalties against the software giant, Madnick said, "The [unbinding] requirement is probably impossible to meet. … I thought of all the possible ways I could think of [to comply] and I could not think of a way to do it."

States attorney Kevin Hodges later asked Madnick whether Microsofts Windows XP Embedded product would "be of any assistance" to Microsoft in complying with the unbinding remedy. Madnick said no, adding that "XP Embedded helps to make much clearer the interdependencies among the components in the operating system." He said XP Embedded points out the "glaring" issue of the interdependencies, "but offers no answers" to it.

The states have zeroed in on Windows XP Embedded as a possible answer to producing a modular, or "unbound," version of Windows, because Microsoft markets it as a "componentized" operating system. And Bill Gates, Microsofts chairman and chief software architect, acknowledged last week in court that Windows XP Embedded could be configured to run general-purpose applications. Microsoft maintains that XP Embedded features the same code as Windows XP Professional.

The states completed its cross-examination of Madnick and began to cross-examine Will Poole, vice president of Microsofts Windows New Media Platforms Division, just before breaking for lunch.

After establishing that Microsoft competes with RealNetworks Inc. and Apple Computer Inc. in the digital media markets, states attorney John Schmidtlein questioned Poole about his claim in his written testimony that Windows Media Player also runs on Apple MacOS and on Sun Microsystems Inc.s Solaris platforms.

"Is it the same Windows Media Player [on all three platforms]?" he asked.

"The same is a hard question," said Poole. "Obviously its different." He cited the user interface and the processors on the systems being different.

"Well, does the Windows Media Player have the same functionality on Apple and Sun?" Schmidtlein asked.

"Theres substantially more functionality on Windows," Poole said.

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