DOJ-Farber : LUSENET : MS-DOJ : One Thread

Farber is a Professor of Telecommunications at University of Pennnsylvania. He is involved in high speed network research with an emphasis on its impact on hardware and operating systems, focused on the areas of high speed networking and the implications of that networking on interconnections, protocols and computer hardware and software architecture.

The thesis of his commentary: it is more efficient to program modularly (as opposed to the bundling evidenced byMS's inclusion of the browser). An OS benefits from minimal functionality. There is simply no good reason to include the browser in the OS, and, in fact, such inclusion results in inefficiencies.

I will address each element of this thesis with quotations and paraphrasing from his testimony. . .

More specifically, Mr. Farber was asked to testify on: "(A) the software development process and its implication for software products; (B) the relationships between operating systems and application software, including Web browsers (as defined below); (C) the significant inefficiencies in designing so-called operating systems which include inappropriate functions such as software applications (e.g.Web browsers); and (D) the negative consequences of permitting Microsoft to add what are now applications to create an ever-larger, monolithic software package which Microsoft calls its "operating system" for personal computers."

He addressed these from the viewpoints of software developers, original equipment manufacturers ("OEMs") and retail end users. [as I am sure MS will note, he was rather effectively cross-examined on this point]

Modular Development "Modern software is developed in small modules . . . which are aggregated into larger modules, which are in turn aggregated into software products." ". . . software has an inherently malleable and modular structure which gives software developers broad freedom in combining (i.e. bundling) different functions into software products." "software malleability provides a developer with the freedom to choose whether to incorporate a particular application (such as a Web browser) into a software product or sell that application separately for later combination by another software developer or retail end user with other software."

Advantages of modular development: -Reduced errors in the development process; -Easier testing of products, reduced cost and complexity for maintenance and upgrades; -Greater possible sharing of software modules among separate products.

Minimal OS Useful to note: His definition of an OS -- Software that controls the execution of programs on computer systems and may provide low-level services such as resource allocation, scheduling and input-output control in a form which is sufficiently simple and general so that these services are broadly useful to software developers. The most efficient OS is one that includes only such functions -- only those which will be used by large numbers of application and component software development projects or are, by their unusual and peculiar nature, required to be at the operating system level. Example: Network software that regulates the transfer of information to or from an Ethernet card is normally part of an OS while the file transfer client, which is further up the chain of routines, should not be in the OS.

Inclusion of Web Browser Not Necessary While the combination may offer certain efficiencies, these same efficiencies can be achieved without bundling of the Web browser software with what Microsoft calls its Windows OS. I understand that Microsoft claims that it should be permitted to include any software it chooses in its Windows product so long as some efficiency can be articulated as a result of the "integration" of that software into that product. But if that standard were adopted by this Court, then any application could be bundled into Microsoft's Windows product.

I will address the cross-x in class (as, I suspect, the MS rep will, as well).

-- Anonymous, January 13, 1999

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