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Microsoft Busting Its Own Browser+OS Myth

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the in-sepa-rable dept.

Internet Explorer 204

An anonymous reader writes "Longtime Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley used her Redmond magazine column this month to point out that after years of arguing that the browser is 'inextricably linked' to the operating system, the company's current push to get users to drop IE 6 for newer versions, plus IE's separate release schedule, are disproving its own argument. From the article: 'Microsoft has insisted that its browser is part of Windows, and, ironically, that's coming back to haunt the company. Customers can mix and match different versions of IE with different versions of Windows. ... But Microsoft has done very little to get this message out there. I'd argue this is because it makes plain the absurdity of the company's claims that IE is part of Windows.'"

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204 comments

Why should they care now? (1, Insightful)

nebaz (453974) | about 4 years ago | (#32762460)

Damage has been done. Sure Firefox, Chrome, Opera and the lot are slowly regaining market share, but that was a tactic they needed when they wanted to drive Netscape out of the market, which they ultimately did. Companies like this don't create arguments that hold up to long term scrutiny, they don't need to.

Re:Why should they care now? (4, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | about 4 years ago | (#32762484)

What does this prove? Different versions of IE's can obviously provide the system and application wide libraries too, but there has to be at least one of them installed for it to work.

Then there is also the fact that countless amount of software uses IE's rendering engine, which has to be present in the system for those to work. Which again works with different versions of it.

I'm happy Steam changed to it's own WebKit, but it was just a few months ago and there still are thousands of other software that uses it.

Re:Why should they care now? (1)

Qwell (684661) | about 4 years ago | (#32762828)

It's almost like there's some kind of Application Programming Interface layer there. Wouldn't that be new and interesting?

Re:Why should they care now? (4, Funny)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about 4 years ago | (#32762964)

It's almost like there's some kind of Application Programming Interface layer there. Wouldn't that be new and interesting?

New and interesting, you say? You should apply for a patent!

Re:Why should they care now? (0, Redundant)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 4 years ago | (#32763338)

    What a novel idea. Too bad there isn't a well established system for taking your ideas and protecting them from being stolen by others for use in their own products.

Re:Why should they care now? (4, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 4 years ago | (#32763048)

Exactly. As a greybeard old enough to have used 98Lite to "hot rod" systems I can say that even back then you could remove it easy enough, but without MSHTML.dll and related files on the system many programs that were not made by MSFT simply wouldn't run or would die hard. In the days of dialup it was simply better to have a rendering engine built into the OS because as anyone on the dialup back then would tell you, even small downloads were slooooow buddy.

I frankly never understood why so much focus was on IE during the trail, when IMHO there were much better smoking guns, such as tying OEM licenses to PCs sold, not copies of Windows sold. That little trick effectively killed BeOS and made sure the only thing you were getting from an OEM was Windows. Now that they can no longer do that trick (and I personally hope Intel gets busted for their OEMs backroom dealing) frankly I think MSFT should be able to put whatever programs they want into their OS. After all it isn't like you have to buy Windows, there is OSX, Linux, BSD, etc, and plenty of places like System76 that will be happy to sell non-MSFT equipment to you, just as there is FF, Chrome, Opera, Safari, Kmeleon, Flock, etc.

I'm just glad the days of "This site requires IE" are dying hard IE6 can't die fast enough IMHO. The only nice thing I can say about IE is it makes switching people to FF that much easier. Just an hour ago I finished up a service call to the nice retired NASA engineer down the hall. After using IE since Win95 I switched him over to FF. After seeing how easy it was to block ads and add specialized searches he was sold. BTW does anyone know of any good "deep web" search engines I can point him towards? He is doing geology research and needs to get more "off the beaten path" to find the kind of data he requires for the paper he's working on. I'm afraid geology and deep web isn't something I have experience in, so any pointers would be helpful.

Re:Why should they care now? (0, Offtopic)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#32763134)

One nice thing about older programs is their compact size.

For example I have Word 97 open right now, and it's only consuming 5 megabytes. i.e. Not slowing down the system with memory swapping/drive thrashing. Similarly IE6 usually stays under 100 megabytes..... only a third as much as Firefox or Opera consume.

Re:Why should they care now? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32763170)

I'm afraid geology and deep web isn't something I have experience in, so any pointers would be helpful.

0x3859FA23 0xDE29018E 0xB538DD86 0x76A1FFFF

You're welcome.

Re:Why should they care now? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about 4 years ago | (#32763218)

scholar.google.com is as straightforward as it can get.

Re:Why should they care now? (2, Insightful)

BZ (40346) | about 4 years ago | (#32763228)

They're not dying; they just moved. Quite a number of mobile sites do the same thing with Safari instead of IE, and Apple pushes its proprietary -webkit things as hard as MS ever did theirs (see the recent fiasco when MS felt like it had to implement -webkit-text-size-adjust, which is otherwise only implemented in Mobile Safari and apparently widely used to make web pages which will only render correctly in Mobile Safari, in its mobile browser...)

Different big company, slightly different technologies, same old tactics.

Re:Why should they care now? (0, Offtopic)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#32763074)

Netscape was the best browser you could buy up 'til AOL bought them out, and made the stupid decision to release Netscape 6 in 2001 (really just Firefox 0.6 beta). What a mess that was. But all the earlier Netscapes were superior to Internet Exploder. Overall my favorite browsers have been:

Mosaic Amiga
Mosaic
Netscape
Firefox 1.0-present

I sometimes use Opera X 10.5 too, but there's something not quite "right" about that browser. It consumes a lot of memory (according to task manager) and sometimes freezes-up for no apparent reason. Plus the Opera Turbo feature often doesn't work (stops loading the page at 95%) which is annoying when you're on a slow connection.

Re:Why should they care now? (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about 4 years ago | (#32763600)

If the page load stops at 95%, then that is annoying on a fast connection as well.

--

Theese guys have not seen the ball since the kickoff. Andreessen

Nobody believed it at the time (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | about 4 years ago | (#32762486)

And nobody believes it now.

A possible alternative headline could be "Obvious lie from MS turns out to be a lie"

Re:Nobody believed it at the time (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762618)

Came here to say this.

There have always been third-party tools to remove IE from Windows.
 

Re:Nobody believed it at the time (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762728)

Which breaks lots and lots of software that expect windows to come with the browser to display stuff and add text processing and other useful benefits.

Re:Nobody believed it at the time (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762646)

Actually, few people care or listened at the time. Anybody who is still using IE6 does not give a rat's ass what MS has claimed about the ties between IE and the OS. Very few civilians paid attention to the details of the anti-trust case, and they are not convinced that they cannot upgrade their browser because of something MS lawyers claimed in a court room a decade ago.

Re:Nobody believed it at the time (2, Funny)

KiloByte (825081) | about 4 years ago | (#32762976)

Just wait until Google says it can't unbundle Chrome from the Chrome OS...

Re:Nobody believed it at the time (2, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | about 4 years ago | (#32763226)

why would this even matter? It's a modified linux kernel, people would easily rebuild it without chrome if concerned.

Re:Nobody believed it at the time (1)

JamesP (688957) | about 4 years ago | (#32763580)

Next thing you know they'll say that lynx is bundled into my system and I can't remove it!!!

Re:Nobody believed it at the time (1)

TheHerk (1521205) | about 4 years ago | (#32763698)

If it wasn't open source I guess that would matter.

So (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762490)

but those lawsuits are over, so why worry about it

Um no... (5, Informative)

Dynedain (141758) | about 4 years ago | (#32762494)

It's not a myth. After that valid argument was deemed insufficient to get out of the anti-trust lawsuits, Microsoft has made a concerted effort to detach IE from the OS.

For example, since IE7, attempts at FTP gets shunted to Windows Explorer. Windows Update on Vista and Windows 7 no longer use IE. The help system uses Trident, but not IExplore.exe. Windows in the EU now prompts the user for which browser to install.

IE is not inextricably bound to the OS because MS has intentionally been keeping it split. However, just because you can get IE removed/disabled, doesn't mean you can remove the HTML rendering engine (Trident). Just like stripping Safari out of OSX, doesn't completely remove WebKit (used in iTunes and a lot of other things).

Re:Um no... (3, Insightful)

StormReaver (59959) | about 4 years ago | (#32762610)

IE is not inextricably bound to the OS because MS has intentionally been keeping it split.

Which is the very thing that Microsoft told the court was not possible. So...ummm....yes, Microsoft lied.

Re:Um no... (3, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | about 4 years ago | (#32762662)

Did they tell the court that the browser is inextricably bound to the CURRENT OS or to future OS's?

Re:Um no... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762890)

That's not a troll you fucktard mod. THIS is a troll. Jackass.

Re:Um no... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762968)

Dude, you are wrong. That was clearly a troll and if you can't see it then you and your parents owe the world an apology.

Re:Um no... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32763102)

I and my parents hereby tell you to go fuck yourself.

Re:Um no... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32763372)

Good job wasting those mod points on an AC. Jackass. Guess you missed the part where they told you to try to promote posts.

Re:Um no... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762980)

Yea!

Re:Um no... (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#32763204)

Good question.

At the time Microsoft was defending Windows 98, claiming their browser was integrated with it (which was true). Of course that OS was retired in 2001 (me was the last version). We now use a completely different OS called Windows NT 5.x (XP) or 6.x (Vista/Seven) so the old argument that IE is integrated no longer applies.

Re:Um no... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#32763506)

Unless John Titor was on the dev team, I'm pretty sure they were limited to speaking of existing OS's.

Re:Um no... (5, Informative)

xavierpayne (697081) | about 4 years ago | (#32762710)

Microsoft told the court it was not possible in the retarded 30-90 timeframe the court demanded. It's taken years and at least 1 whole new OS cycle to get the level of detachment they have now.

Re:Um no... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762856)

And it's still somewhat linked...

Is your antivirus unable to download the latest definitions? Check the LAN settings in IE to make sure that a virus didn't forward your request against a localhost proxy that's capturing your traffic. Why am I setting proxy servers in IE? Still? I don't know.

Re:Um no... (2, Informative)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 4 years ago | (#32762948)

Those are the Windows LAN settings. IE uses them, as does Chrome and many other well-behaved Windows applications.

IE also provides an access point to them mixed in with IE-specific settings, which causes some confusion. You can also get there (without the IE-specific settings; at least, the ones that are inherently IE specific) from the control panel.

Re:Um no... (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#32763256)

You can also get there (without the IE-specific settings; at least, the ones that are inherently IE specific) from the control panel.

In Windows XP, Start > Control Panel > Internet Options puts the non-IE-specific settings in the Connections pane along with five panes of web-specific stuff. Was this changed in Windows Vista or Windows 7?

Re:Um no... (1)

EvanED (569694) | about 4 years ago | (#32763132)

Hell, 2 OS cycles: moving off of the 9x kernel onto NT, and then Vista. Both made significant progress on this front.

This is such a stupid article I'm surprised it wasn't posted by kdawson.

Re:Um no... (1)

Confusador (1783468) | about 4 years ago | (#32762848)

I never thought that getting people to use Firefox would open a massive security hole, but I discovered after a while that some of them had never moved to newer versions of IE because they didn't use it. Now most of them understand that just because it's hidden doesn't mean it's not there.

Re:Um no... (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#32762938)

I'm not saying it is impossible to exploit a browser not in use... but I don't see a way to do that over the internet without already owning the system.

Re:Um no... (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#32763286)

I'm not saying it is impossible to exploit a browser not in use... but I don't see a way to do that over the internet without already owning the system.

You get the user to start an app other than iexplore.exe that embeds an IE control.

Re:Um no... (1)

ashridah (72567) | about 4 years ago | (#32763314)

Sure, except we have/had apps that also embed trident. My RSS reader does. Steam used to, but no longer does. The help system does. Any bugs there can also be exploited via any of those vehicles, depending on how targeted you make your attack.

Re:Um no... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32763126)

At the time they were linking a lot of systems together using IE, so from a certain point of view what they said was the truth. They have just made an effort to break up that connection in the time since.

Kind of ironic that now OSes like Chrome are being made where such a claim is even more accurate.

Re:Um no... (5, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | about 4 years ago | (#32762804)

I don't think that anyone disbelieved Microsoft when they claimed that IE had been made part of the OS. No one is really calling that a myth. The supposed myth is that it had to be part of the OS, and that Microsoft could not make a meaningful distinction between the browser and the OS.

Still, we can argue about whether Microsoft claimed such a thing or whether it really is a "myth".

Re:Um no... (2, Informative)

linebackn (131821) | about 4 years ago | (#32763790)

If it is a myth or not depends on how you look at it. Back in the day I was able to run Windows 98 (98Lite) without any trace of IE and at the same time run IE 4 under Wine without Windows.

But the catch was IE is heavily made up of components that other applications could make use of (and too often did regardless if it made sense or not). In fact, the entire Windows 98 "integrated" shell depended on many of these components and would fail to run if IE was removed in its entirety. (In that case the Windows 95 shell had to be used instead). Since the OS bundle was therefore unusable to normal users without the IE application, they called it "integrated with the OS".

These components still exist and are unfortunately heavily depended on by Windows and numerous applications.

The worst part about this is that Microsoft has painted themselves in to a corner because of the way it is implemented. It is not possible to cleanly remove IE in its entirety (well, *I* think this should be possible) or run multiple versions of IE in any officially supported manner under the same instance of Windows.

If I needed to access a webby app that only worked in Netscape 4, I probably could install Netscape 4 under Windows 7 and access it just fine in conjunction with any other newer browsers. No such luck with IE, those that need to use IE 6 HAVE to use Windows XP only and can not even install IE 8 at the same time. (Yes, there are some hacks out there but the only official way Microsoft supports running IE 6 under Vista/7 is using XP in VM!)

When is a line not a line? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762506)

Were does one draw the line between OS and application (and let's not draw libraries into this).

Re:When is a line not a line? (4, Insightful)

StormReaver (59959) | about 4 years ago | (#32762684)

Were does one draw the line between OS and application (and let's not draw libraries into this).

The operating system manages the hardware, and provides an interface between the hardware and applications. Everything else is an application (including most libraries, since they're just reusable parts of applications).

Re:When is a line not a line? (4, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#32763058)

A web browser needs an internet-connection library, a display library, and a parser library for the data between them.

If you put that into your OS, other application developers may suddenly decide they want to use the internet library and some of the parser library, instead of whatever libraries the OS used to have, or whatever code they were planning to implement themselves.

Now someone says "we order you to remove the web browser from the OS."

You say "that is impossible. Parts of the web browser now serve as parts of the OS."

The only thing you can remove is the browser executable itself, which in the extreme case is just a call with particular arguments to a function in a library you can't remove. So you remove the browser executable and convince the issuers of the order that you have done their bidding.

Re:When is a line not a line? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32764080)

You can not get any software libraries to be part of the OS because they are still needing working OS under them to work.

OS like Linux, NT (NT is server-client architectured OS = with microkernel. NT is NOT hybrid kernel. There is not such OS architecture as "Hybrid"), XNU, HURD, FreeBSD, SunOS, HP-UX, PARAS etc etc. Are just OS's.

Example, the GNU/Linux does not exist because the GNU software can not work without working operating system. glibc, bash, etc etc. Are just system software like the OS is. But they are definetly not part of the operating system. Not even bootloader is part of the OS. Bootloader is just a "simple" (talk about GRUB being simple, like talking Emacs being just a text editor) program what tasks is to locate OS image from the storage device and read it to RAM and execute it so it can take control and start loading other softwares and so on.

Windows is software system. Not a operating system (okay, it is as much web browser as it is operating system. Most knows it as operating system because without NT, the Windows is not operating system but just lousy bunch of software) what is the NT in the Windows. NT is now in 6.1 version in Windows 7. Too many mistakes the operating system and software system (what is contrary to hardware system, those two builds together a computer system) but it seems to be because marketing has taken control over the computer science how the computer really works.

Re:When is a line not a line? (1)

Slime-dogg (120473) | about 4 years ago | (#32763088)

The operating system manages the hardware, and provides an interface between the hardware and applications. Everything else is an application (including most libraries, since they're just reusable parts of applications).

That would be the kernel, not the OS. An OS not only provides applications an interface with the hardware, but also functions as an interface for the user as well. GNU is a partial operating system that has no specific kernel. When it is paired with a kernel (GNU/HURD or GNU/LINUX), then it is considered an operating system.

As such, it is necessary for an OS to have a set of applications, in addition to the kernel.

Re:When is a line not a line? (2, Informative)

XanC (644172) | about 4 years ago | (#32763596)

No, Linux is an OS. GNU is a set of tools that run on it.

Re:When is a line not a line? (2, Funny)

Raul654 (453029) | about 4 years ago | (#32763154)

The operating system manages the hardware, and provides an interface between the hardware and applications. Everything else is an application (including most libraries, since they're just reusable parts of applications).
br/?

That's the definition of a microkernel. But that is irrelevant in a discussion about Windows, which is a monolithic kernel and does other things like incorporating a TCP/IP stack, file systems, virtual memory, etc -- none of which fit your definition of what an OS should do. So the GP's point is well taken - there is no single agreed-upon definition of what should be in the operating system, and what should be left to user-space; different operating systems do it differently.

Re:When is a line not a line? (1)

unix1 (1667411) | about 4 years ago | (#32763586)

The operating system manages the hardware, and provides an interface between the hardware and applications. Everything else is an application (including most libraries, since they're just reusable parts of applications).

Yes, but kernels do a little more than that, including providing interfaces for those applications to implement things like process and memory management, user permissions/security, filesystems, etc.

In the case of consumer desktop MS Windows versions up until and including Windows XP, the operating system (and their supporting libraries/applications) did not have a capability to support a comprehensive user level security. Windows XP has some, but nowhere near enough, user security. So some imaginary security is implemented at a higher level. For example, most of the times, when a Windows XP user is "locked out" of certain features (such as viewing list of processes, running a command, opening a command prompt, access to certain hardware, etc.) it's done at the level of the Windows Explorer shell. Locked out of the C:\ drive from Windows Explorer? No problem, try any number of file managers that don't use the explorer shell. Cannot see the list of processes by right-clicking on the task bar? No problem - download any number of process managers.

So, an argument can be made that since the Explorer shell is performing certain tasks that should be performed at a lower OS level (the "security" being one of many), the Explorer is then part of the "OS." Since Internet Explorer used/uses the Explorer shell and Explorer needs the HTML rendering components, then the browser is indirectly part of the "Operating System."

So about this myth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762532)

So you're busting the idea of a modular Operating system where the one module of the OS requires some version of the other module but won't function without it?

Doesn't Matter (1, Redundant)

StormReaver (59959) | about 4 years ago | (#32762538)

It doesn't matter anymore. The argument was only important long enough to bamboozle the court system. After that, Microsoft could scream the truth from the highest mountain top with impunity. It's not like the court system is going to admit to its own incompetence, and punish Microsoft for lying.

Re:Doesn't Matter (3, Interesting)

ptomblin (1378) | about 4 years ago | (#32762688)

Funny thing is, I have a quote from a Microsoft patent application that occurred around the same time they were arguing in court that the browser was part of the OS: "It should be understood by those skilled in the art that a Web browser, such as Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer, ... is separate from the operating system." Man, I wish I'd recorded the patent application number when I put that in my quotes file.

Re:Doesn't Matter (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762840)

Funny thing is, I have a quote from a Microsoft patent application that occurred around the same time they were arguing in court that the browser was part of the OS: "It should be understood by those skilled in the art that a Web browser, such as Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer, ... is separate from the operating system." Man, I wish I'd recorded the patent application number when I put that in my quotes file.

The US Patent Number is 5,794,230.

Re:Doesn't Matter (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32764002)

Patent number: 5794230
Page 12
Method and system for creating and searching directories on a server

Re:Doesn't Matter (5, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 4 years ago | (#32762758)

It wasn't court system incompetence that caused Microsoft to get away with its antitrust practices. Far from it - they had gotten to the point of starting to decide sanctions.

The thing was, shortly after the 2000 election cycle, the Justice Department decided to stop pursuing the court case, for some reason [opensecrets.org] , and settled for a slap on the wrist.

Re:Doesn't Matter (4, Interesting)

Nimey (114278) | about 4 years ago | (#32762882)

More to the point, the Justice Dept pulled the experienced lawyers off the case once the Bush Administration took over in 2001.

One suspects it was for ideological reasons, Republicans being known for favoring big business.

Re:Doesn't Matter (-1, Flamebait)

bonch (38532) | about 4 years ago | (#32763138)

And they were totally right to do so. Nobody forced you to use Microsoft products back then, and nobody forces you today. The free market rejected the Windows platform on its own with the rise of Apple and Google.

The truth is that most Slashdotters wanted Microsoft taken down out of some fantasy that it would cause mass adoption of Linux on the desktop. It turned out that the desktop wasn't even going to be the future of computing anyway.

huh? (1)

sweatyboatman (457800) | about 4 years ago | (#32763234)

seriously, what are you talking about?

Re:Doesn't Matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32763348)

And they were totally right to do so. Nobody forced you to use Microsoft products back then, and nobody forces you today. The free market rejected the Windows platform on its own with the rise of Apple and Google.

The truth is that most Slashdotters wanted Microsoft taken down out of some fantasy that it would cause mass adoption of Linux on the desktop. It turned out that the desktop wasn't even going to be the future of computing anyway.

Parent should be -1, Rose Colored Glasses.
When that Antitrust suit was started, you *could not* buy an assembled machine from a vendor without Windows or DOS of some form installed.
If you did find a vendor that was willing, the price was in most cases higher.

Funny thing, back in that time frame Mary Jo Foley was the biggest Microsoft asskisser of the bunch.
They must've stopped paying her sorry ass off.

Re:Doesn't Matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32763916)

Nobody forced you to use Microsoft products back then, and nobody forces you today.

But they do force you to buy MS products - which is the problem. (Ever try to purchase a computer without Windows?)

Re:Doesn't Matter (1, Interesting)

bonch (38532) | about 4 years ago | (#32763106)

With the rise of Apple and Google signaling Microsoft's natural decline, the Justice Department's actions have turned out to be correct. The free market rejected the monopoly on its own without the need for government intervention like splitting up the company and other ridiculous solutions being thrown around back then.

Re:Doesn't Matter (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 4 years ago | (#32762826)

And their argument didn't even work at the time [wikipedia.org] . Their own video tapes showed that it worked fine without IE. It was pretty hilarious, actually.

Furthermore I don't think the author's argument makes any sense; she is not a programmer, she is an author and analyst. Any programmer will know that even if the browser were an integral part of the OS, it could still be replaced as long as those parts that are used by the OS remain (which can obviously happen when you upgrade your own browser).

She also tries to claim that Microsoft is trying to be consistent in its arguments, but Microsoft (like any competent spin-doctor) doesn't care if their arguments are consistent, they only care if they convince at the moment. Unlike geeks they feel no need to be consistent with arguments from 10 years ago that no one remembers.

Re:Doesn't Matter (1)

bonch (38532) | about 4 years ago | (#32763056)

Did you forget that Microsoft was found guilty?

This Disproves Nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762552)

XP Comes with IE6, you can upgrade to IE7 or IE8 or not, your choice. How does this prove that IE is not linked / embedded in the Operating System.

I can upgrade a component of my OS or not...

Patching third party browsers. (1)

hilather (1079603) | about 4 years ago | (#32762588)

Ever tried with with SMS (now SCCP)? Microsoft didn't make it easy in older versions.

Not convinced (0, Flamebait)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | about 4 years ago | (#32762592)

Even if users can have any one of several version of IE, they all still have IE. The linux kernel is part of the OS, but users upgrade it constantly. Microsoft's argument may have been silly, but her point doesn't make sense to me.

In addition, lets take a look at where we are so many years later. Apple's industry dominating platforms are locked into iTunes and the App Store. Both of which are far more intrusive than IE ever was. Try installing Mozilla AppFox or FireTunes on your iPad...

Re:Not convinced (1)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | about 4 years ago | (#32763622)

Apple fanboys... meh.

Jesus H. Christ. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762604)

Why does anyone give a crap? Windows contains a browser -- big freakin' deal. Every OS that anyone uses contains a browser.

Only F/OSS weenies really give a shit about any of this. Ordinary people want computers to work for them, and these days, "doesn't have a browser" means "doesn't work."

You can install ANYTHING you want on Windows -- including your favorite browser. Quit whining and dribbling over trivia.

"Part of the OS" (1)

Tei (520358) | about 4 years ago | (#32762632)

What "Part of the OS" means, and what are the effects?

Arguabilly, a perl distro is part of most Linux distros, since key parts of the distro are written in Perl. A "Perl-less" version of the distro is maybe possible, simply removing perl, and replacing all these parts by other modules that don't need it.

So something can be "part of the OS", and at the same type, can be replaced?

MSHTML.dll seems part of XP the same way a Hard-Disk is *not* part of the console XBox360. This is because all the XP have this DLL, and you are supposed to assume it exist. But some XBox360 consoles don't have a harddisk, so you can't asume your game can use a harddisk, so you have to program it to run from ROM in a optical mecanical device.

So..

I mostly think the article is wrong, and consoles suck.

Ability to replace components (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#32763386)

Arguabilly, a perl distro is part of most Linux distros, since key parts of the distro are written in Perl.

But a machine's administrator can easily replace /usr/bin/perl with any binary that implements a compatible interface. Any /usr/bin/perl that parses and runs the same language will do, even if it has third-party defect fixes applied to it. Microsoft doesn't make that so easy with mshtml.dll: either you use Microsoft's mshtml.dll, or you don't use Windows.

and consoles suck.

True, HTPCs are better in theory, but in practice, consoles have far more local-multiplayer games.

ILLOGICAL (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32762644)

'Microsoft has insisted that its browser is part of Windows, and, ironically, that's coming back to haunt the company. Customers can mix and match different versions of IE with different versions of Windows.....But Microsoft has done very little to get this message out there. I'd argue this is because it makes plain the absurdity of the company's claims that IE is part of Windows.'"

Fallacious logic!
Internet Explorer is part of Windows and not Internet Explorer 6 is part of Windows.
Customers are just plain lazy or the IT departments just don't care if its IE6 or IE9 on 3 year old systems they just attend to when it's broken down.
I think the whole post is not worth news for a nerd. There is no logic to this argument and should be trashed.

It's that important to the OS (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about 4 years ago | (#32762676)

True browser / OS integration is hard to pull off and Microsoft has 100% not pulled this off. To start off you can remove IE and still use Windows. Second if you want to see what a Browser + Desktop integrated setup is like just look at KDE, that is a true Browser + Desktop. What Microsoft has is a craptastic browser that is associated wit the same company as the OS and hence they say they reliant on each other. Personally I think it great the OS and browser aren't linked. Who actually likes IE?

Windows / IE (1)

wzinc (612701) | about 4 years ago | (#32762704)

Well, if you completely stripped IE from Windows, things that depend on an HTML renderer would break, such as help (.chm), HTML apps (.hta), and .Net (web browser control), to name a few.

Side note: Mac OS X uses Webkit to render help and a number of other OS parts / pieces.

Re:Windows / IE (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 4 years ago | (#32763412)

But the big difference is OSX doesn't do anything to break FireFox or Opera. As far as that goes, since it's open source they do nothing to prevent other companies from using Webkit for things like Chrome, Palm, Konqueror or anyone else that wants to use Webkit. If FireFox decided tomorrow to abandon their rendering engine for Webkit, Apple isn't doing anything to stop them. Furthermore I can remove and delete safari from my mac and nothing bad happens. Webkit is still there and used in the libraries, but it is not dependent on having safari installed.

Third-party MSHTML.dll (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#32763488)

Well, if you completely stripped IE from Windows, things that depend on an HTML renderer would break

They should depend on a browser but not necessarily IE, as I explained in another comment [slashdot.org] .

such as help (.chm)

These should be viewable with any web browser, provided that the operating system provides a URI scheme handler for files within a CHM archive.

HTML apps (.hta)

These depend on quirks of Internet Explorer; I'll grant that.

That claim is almost 9 years old... (4, Insightful)

in10se (472253) | about 4 years ago | (#32762766)

Um, when Microsoft made that claim, they were referring to Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6 which are both almost 9 years old. At that time, IE6 was very likely tightly linked to the OS. They slowly "unlinked" it over the years which I'm sure was a lot of work. You can argue that they shouldn't have linked it in the first place (you may or may not be right). The fact that you could upgrade from IE6 to IE7 or 8 does not mean it was not linked - can you not upgrade certain pieces of the OS on Linux, Unix, or MacOS in small pieces? Isn't that what a patch is?

We are now to MAJOR OS versions later and Microsoft doesn't claim the OS and the browser are linked anymore.

Re:That claim is almost 9 years old... (1)

KiloByte (825081) | about 4 years ago | (#32762910)

Well, then how would you explain why it works on Wine?

Re:That claim is almost 9 years old... (1)

in10se (472253) | about 4 years ago | (#32763042)

Well, then how would you explain why it works on Wine?

Define "it".

Oh, and it appears that I was wrong, the trial started before XP was released, so this actually started with Windows 95/98 and IE4/5. It's just that lots of businesses still use XP and IE6. This only further helps my argument because MS would have already started to separate things by the time Windows XP was released.

Re:That claim is almost 9 years old... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32763320)

Because WINE provides an MSHTML.DLL and WININET.DLL implementation that exactly matches MSIE 6's. Why? Because they have to. Many Windows applications uses these components. WININET.DLL is NT's version of libcurl on POSIX based platforms.

In fact, the WINE implementation of MSHTML.DLL is hooked up to use Gecko (the same rendering engine FireFox uses) via XPCOM -- in quirks mode. Heck, I found the WINE sources to be better documentation to using MSHTML in my own Win32 software than MSDN!

And why did I use MSHTML in my software? Because it makes sense. The primary purpose of the only serious Win32 software I developed was to talk to some specific hardware. As such displaying things like instructions, warning messages, etc. all benefited because internally they were stored as HTML blobs. So that means - rich text, UTF-8 internationalization and hotlinks to our online user manuals for when an error message pops up.

It just made our application richer -- it certainly isn't a web centric thing -- in fact most of the heavy use of this application was for within a vehicle without a net connection.

The minute you expose anything as a public API and people begin using it you have to support it if you care about backwards compatibility. While I am no fan of many things M$ says if you reach under the hood you can kind of understand why they said that.

Re:That claim is almost 9 years old... (1)

sweatyboatman (457800) | about 4 years ago | (#32763408)

the trial was about the linking of the Microsoft's browser to their monopoly OS. that they did it in a way that made it hard to undo does not make it less anti-competitive.

the argument that Microsoft made at the trial was that a web browser was then and always would be a crucial part of the OS. to a technical person, this argument makes no sense -- as it's just a matter of programming. which is why you (and many others) have chosen to defend a weaker formulation of Microsoft's argument (that they only said it would be hard to untangle -- I'm sure they said that as well, but I can't imagine a judge caring much about that).

The point is that at no time was it necessary for Microsoft to bundle IE with their operating system. They chose to do that. It's possible that they innocently thought that it would improve the user experience. That, or (as I believe the court decided) they were attempting to leverage their monopoly status on the OS to give them a hammer-lock on the burgeoning web industry.

Re:That claim is almost 9 years old... (1)

in10se (472253) | about 4 years ago | (#32763704)

The article is not really about the anti-trust case - it is about Microsoft saying the browser and OS would be difficult to de-couple.

It really doesn't matter why they chose to bundle them together with respect to the current topic. The author of the article is trying to make Microsoft sound like a liar because they said they couldn't unlink the two (in the time specified by the court anyway). The fact that they have solved this problem over 10 years later should not come as a surprise.

Re:That claim is almost 9 years old... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32763440)

The fact that you could upgrade from IE6 to IE7 or 8 does not mean it was not linked - can you not upgrade certain pieces of the OS on Linux, Unix, or MacOS in small pieces? Isn't that what a patch is?

We are now to MAJOR OS versions later and Microsoft doesn't claim the OS and the browser are linked anymore.

Ah, but the pieces in Linux, Unix, and MacOS are modular by design and quite interchangeable. Windows was not built to be modular. At least not to the same degree as the other OS's you mentioned. So something that is 'linked' to the OS is truly linked. It cannot be removed. Plus, Microsoft's entire argument hinged on their claim that the browser was so linked to the base OS that it couldn't be removed. If that were true then unless future versions of IE maintained complete backwards compatibility with the previous versions (which by the way, they don't) the future version would not work and would break the OS. The only thing that was really 'linked' (and still is to a few things) was the rendering engine, and that's not the browser.

IIRC (2, Insightful)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about 4 years ago | (#32762820)

Microsoft released a version of Windows without IE, and it was unstable, erratic, and unreliable.

IOW, indistinguishable from the regular version.

Re:IIRC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32763038)

no, that was ME.

Re:IIRC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32763148)

Sorta like your mom.

I'm just waiting for IE 9 on ChromeOS (1)

PerfectionLost (1004287) | about 4 years ago | (#32762978)

I'm just waiting for IE 10 on ChromeOS. Won't google make the same argument as Microsoft then?

Re:Doesn't Matter (1)

LordBullGod (1602191) | about 4 years ago | (#32763004)

Does it matter anyway? Safari and OS X, IE and Win32, Lunix and Firefox...... "It's all cloud computing now" - It will soon be what G00GLE wants us to use......if you subscribe to that sort of thing. The web is a bloated sack of protoplasm now anyway. It was useful back in the day........ahh the good ole days.

Re:Doesn't Matter (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | about 4 years ago | (#32763210)

Does it matter anyway? Safari and OS X, IE and Win32, Lunix and Firefox...... "It's all cloud computing now" - It will soon be what G00GLE wants us to use......if you subscribe to that sort of thing.

The web is a bloated sack of protoplasm now anyway. It was useful back in the day........ahh the good ole days.

Huh? Safari (or Firefox or Opera) on OSX, Linux and Firefox (or various other browsers)... and as for cloud computing, IE and Microsoft forcing it to everyone is the biggest problem for web developers.

Working offline in cloud computing (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#32763566)

"It's all cloud computing now"

Provided that you're willing to pay 60 USD a month for mobile broadband. A lot of us aren't, and we use numerous offline-mode workarounds such as IMAP sync, the Read It Later extension, and the like. Until IE supports HTML5 cache manifests [w3.org] and HTML5 web storage [w3.org] like Chrome and Firefox, IE won't be ready for the netbook.

IE6 really is part of XP (1)

Animats (122034) | about 4 years ago | (#32763142)

The problem for Microsoft is that IE6 really is part of Windows XP. The code of IE was split up amongst various DLLs which also do other things. IE was tied into other functions and deliberately made difficult to remove. And, of course, the "File" menu on IE6 has no "Exit" option.

While IE is less integrated into Microsoft's OS than it used to be, Microsoft's Media Player is now tied into the OS even more tightly. Microsoft is no longer afraid of Netscape. They're afraid of Apple iTunes.

Re:IE6 really is part of XP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32764044)

What the fuck bullshit is spewing out of your yapper? I just tried to remove WMP and it takes less than one minute to do it. Do you have any idea what you're talking about? No, trolls like you have never actually used Windows, but shit fuck gee willickers if you aren't the world's foremost Windows expert.

Windows Explorer (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | about 4 years ago | (#32763240)

I recall part of the argument at the time being that the Windows (File system) Explorer and Internet Explorer had converged / were intertwined / had more or less become two parts of the same thing.

But I can't remember the details or if it was even a valid argument at the time, so maybe someone who was paying more attention can fill that in.

What is that garbage? (1)

LanceUppercut (766964) | about 4 years ago | (#32763244)

I mean I understand that certain people are clueless and therefore can be convinced to believe anything. And there are certain people who prefer deluding themselves even though they know that their delusions are just that - delusions. However, anyone who ever worked with Windows knows that IE is indeed a part of Windows. There's no debate about that and there has never been. Just because the user can switch from one version of IE to another doesn't in any way contradict the claim. It simply proves that the IE, as a system component, is designed properly and very professionally, i.e. with a sufficient level of decoupling and interface abstraction. I understand that this very fact has been a significant source of inferiority complex attacks for the followers of certain of other OS-es, developed by certain half-illiterate crowd of various "c00l hack0rz". So they will undoubtedly try to pervert its meaning. But that doesn't change the reality, at least for those who prefer to live in connection with it.

IE not connected, but limited (3, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about 4 years ago | (#32763260)

Here is my take. MS makes a profit by controlling the computer market. They mark up products in such a way, and provide strategic discounts, so most of the profits in the desktop computer industry goes to them. This is why Dell has a gross profit of around 10% and MS has a gross profit of 80%. Apple, who manufacturers computer but does not pay the MS tax has a gross profit of around 40%. Obviously any computer manufacturer would want to have a gross profit more in line with Apple. MS would hate that because assuming the price of the computer is fixed, and profit to the OEM will cut into the MS profit. In this screwed up market, it is a zero sum game, which is the death of any free market.

The web would have resulted in the loss of MS profit if it had been allowed to grow freely. At that time many production machines were still using very simple systems that could be implemented on web based interface. Companies like Compaq were still competing hard and had non-MS offering that were less complex and more reliable than the PC. MS Office was not quite everywhere, and options existed. The fight was going over who controlled the application front end. If the application front end was platform independent, then people could run software on MS servers, but the desktop could be anything for the average worker drone.

This could not happen. So MS made IE into a application front end that would only run on windows. This meant that the servers and desktop had to run MS software. OEM could not develop intelligent terminals that would have saved huge amounts of administrative costs. OEM could not sell this intelligent terminal for the same price as a MS PC and pocket the profit.

In reality what happened, the lie that MS could make people believe, no matter who much they said it, is that there is a real benefit to having the server run the same software as the desktop. So people continued to use MS desktops, but many switched to linux servers. This meant the bombs that MS put in IE to connect it to MS Windows became a liability. They tried to stop *nix with ad campiagns, in the courts, but with IE 8, even if the propaganda continues, the effect is clear.

Which is also why there is so much activities over phones and tablets. The OEM is nevery going to make a fair profit with MS, neither are developers. That is why most of the cool stuff have been developed in places outside of the US. Google is sharing profits, and, no matter what any says, so is Apple. The App store has made it possible to make money. MS is now where Unix was in the 80's. An expensive albeit still relevant dinosaur. It is a matter of time until people look on our old desktop like we looked at IBM 360 of VAX. A little nostalgic, but happy we have something bette.

Ka-wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32763362)

Microsoft doesn't want users to know they can upgrade their browser? Is that why I've been seeing TV ads for IE 8? I don't think I've *ever* seen an ad for a web browser on TV. Especially given that they are giving away IE 8 for free, making no money on these ads...

Uhmm... (0)

FireXtol (1262832) | about 4 years ago | (#32763410)

I'm pretty sure IE is still integrated into Explorer.exe, which is the default shell of Windows.

So what about older PCs with little RAM? (2, Interesting)

BUL2294 (1081735) | about 4 years ago | (#32763670)

I'm curious to know if anyone has tried IE7 or IE8 on an older computer running XP that has less than 256MB RAM? Such PCs (barely) meet the requirements for XP, and since IE is "inextricably part of the OS", Microsoft is IMHO on the hook to come up with a solution for such users...

For example, I have an old Toshiba Libretto 110CT. The specs: Pentium-MMX, 233MHz, 64MB RAM, 160GB PATA HD (I upgraded for the better access rate, since it only supports PIO mode), 802.11b WiFi... Going above 64MB RAM is not an option (excluding one hack that requires soldering and could bring it up to a massive 96MB). It's a neat little toy, especially for DOS games, and works reasonably well with XP Pro, Office XP, WordPerfect 11, etc.--especially after I disable 7 unnecessary services. Firefox 3.6 is painful on it, but it runs better than earlier versions of Firefox due to improvements in Javascript. IE6 runs reasonably well--better than Firefox. So, I'm curious--is IE7 or IE8 worth a try on this thing?

I know IE7 sucks with Javascript, so should I just go to IE8? Has anyone even tried IE7/8 on a very low end PC that barely meets XP & IE specs? Even IE8 says it needs only 64MB RAM. (I still need access to Windows Update and the occasional website...)

Sure, there is some flexibility (1)

cdrguru (88047) | about 4 years ago | (#32764076)

The problem is that everything to do with help and a bunch of the new Vista/7 displays are rendered using HTML. It is presumed that there will be something called MSHTML.DLL around which will do this rendering and have the COM/COM+ interfaces that are required.

Guess what? That pretty much limits it to the IE browser. Especially considering the level of documentation available about all the COM interfaces that are required for the HTML rendering object.

Take out that renderer and the OS is non-functional. Perhaps more so with Vista and Windows 7 than XP (and earlier), but substantial functionality of the operating system itself is indeed dependent on the exact implementation of the HTML renderer.

This doesn't preclude adding another browser which does not remove MSHTML.DLL, so naturally FireFox and Chrome will work just fine. It is just removing the HTML COM object that counts. And I would suspect that while there might be some flexibility with upgrading, it isn't going to be completely transparent. Having the HTML Help facility stop working or other displays that require HTML rendering would be a big problem.

Was introducing HTML Help the way they did it as a component of the OS a mistake? Maybe. But in 1995 it was a somewhat different decision and while Apple seems to have no trouble making their users re-buy software every few years the Microsoft users seem to really want to hang onto applications for a lot longer. One impediment to moving to 64-bit versions of the OS is the lack of support for 16-bit (Windows 3.1) applications, if you can believe it.

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