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Preferential Access to OS code
- To: ABA Antrtrust List <AT-MEMBERS@ABANET.ORG>
- Subject: Preferential Access to OS code
- From: James Love <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Tue, 18 Nov 1997 14:12:28 -0500
- Organization: http://www.cptech.org
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 <email@example.com>
To: Multiple recipients of list <firstname.lastname@example.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
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