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Preferential Access to OS code

  Karl Auerbach's interesting note regarding the problems of competing
  with Microsoft when Microsoft provides its own programmers preferential
  access to OS code.    jamie
  Subject:  Re: DOJ asked to stop MS monopolization of browser market
     Date:  Sun, 16 Nov 1997 15:54:07 -0800 (PST)
     From:  Karl Auerbach <karl@cavebear.com>
   Reply-To: cni-copyright@cni.org
         To: Multiple recipients of list <cni-copyright@cni.org>
  Not that this thread has a lot to do with copyright any longer... 
  > Also, there is a very important "developer market" -- that is, getting
  > developers to develop products based on your product.
  I develop software at Precept Software.  (In particular I build software
  to do near broadcast quality audio/video on Win 95 and NT platforms over
  standard TCP/IP networks, especially those supporting IP multicast.)
  Anyway, I've been looking at how IE4 claims to fit into Windows 95 and
  One of the means by which they have been able to combine the file system
  and the network is by a thing they call "Shell Namespaces". 
  Essentially, when the file system viewer encounters a read-only
  directory containing a file named "desktop.ini", the viewer, rather than
  displaying the files, launches a program referenced by a field whithin
  the "desktop.ini" file. 
  This mechanism was not released until the IE4 software came out.  I'm
  not sure when the API documentation was released, but it reasonably new.
  And the documentation is not complete -- Microsoft is clearly and
  demonstrably using undocumented extensions. 
  Microsoft's developers had perhaps a years prior access to this idea,
  and also had the opportunity to refine its design and implementation to
  accomodate the needs of IE4. 
  Outside developers had no such opportunity. 
  Thus, if there were two equally imaginative and creative development
  teams, one inside Microsoft and one outside, the latter is at a
  substantial disadvantage. 
  The outsiders don't have the opportunity available to Microsoft insiders
  to bounce ideas for new functionality off of the core OS group or to
  obtain knowledge that resides between the lines of the published
  And if an outsider gets a good idea and talks it over with a
  Microsoftie, the outsider is essentially divulging some of its
  intellectual property advantages to an actual or potential competitor,
  The whole issue whether IE4 is part of the OS or not is utterly
  irrelevant.  To use that distinction as the basis for judgement is to
  concede the outcome to Microsoft. 
  The real issue is whether Microsoft dominant position in OS's (including
  compilers and development libraries) is giving it an improper advantage
  in the development or commercialization of new software ideas. 
  >From my point of view as a software developer, it is my opinion that
  Microsoft's position constitutes a sword of Damocles over every
  independent developer.  In many senses, if one has a good idea that one
  hopes to bring to sucessful fruition, it is better to sell out to
  Microsoft or to become an employee there than to try to do outside the
  Karl Auerbach