WASHINGTON — Jim Allchin, the final Microsoft Corp. executive lined up to defend the Redmond, Wash., software maker against tough antitrust penalties, took the stand today. Allchins testimony highlighted the security problems he foresees resulting from technical information disclosure requirements sought by nine states and the District of Columbia.
Like Bill Gates before him, in his written testimony Allchin raised the specter of national security threats–even compromises to the U.S. efforts in Afghanistan–that could result if the states win their case.
In his written testimony, Allchin suggested several, far-reaching dangers that could develop if Microsoft is not permitted to withhold API and protocol disclosures when it has security-related concerns. “It is no exaggeration to say that the national security is also implicated by the efforts of hackers to break into computing networks,” Allchin, group vice president for platforms, wrote in his testimony. “Computers, including many running Windows operating systems, are used throughout the United States Department of Defense and by the Armed Forces of the United States in Afghanistan and elsewhere.”
Unlike the states proposed remedy, the federal settlement proposal that Microsoft and the Department of Justice agreed to in November contains a “carve-out” that permits Microsoft to withhold API and protocol disclosures if such disclosure would compromise security. The provision is designed to address hackers, viruses and piracy, according to Allchin.
The states proposal would also make it easier for software pirates to misappropriate copyrighted content because Microsoft would be required to disclose all APIs related to digital rights management software in Windows XP, Allchin testified.
Allchins testimony also covered .Net, countering charges made by rivals, particularly Jonathan Schwartz of Sun Microsystems, during the hearing. Charging that Schwartzs testimony implied an oversimplified sense of the interoperability of .Net and Java technology, he said the two systems are not perfect equivalents of each other.
“Microsoft has invested substantial time and resources in providing great interoperability between .NET and older technologies, allowing our customers to leverage their existing stock of applications,” he wrote. “In contrast, Suns strategy of promoting creation of ‘100% pure Java applications actually discourages interoperability with customers existing applications written in other programming languages.”
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