Ruling means more efficient development

Users will benefit from more efficient development of Windows applications as a result of the US Department of Justice ruling...

Users will benefit from more efficient development of Windows applications as a result of the US Department of Justice ruling last week, IT experts have said.

Cliff Saran

The US Court's decision to force Microsoft to open up its internal operating system programming interfaces could lead to more robust software and cheaper support.

According to Robin Colclough, managing director of AVC, a firm that produces airport display systems, the ruling will benefit software development. "Today, developers like ourselves have a hard time getting programming interfaces from Microsoft," he said. "The changes the DoJ suggests are the logical solution to the monopoly situation that Microsoft uses to its benefit."

Colclough is planning to take legal action against Microsoft to obtain a refund for the technical support costs he incurred as a result of its failure to disclose technical information about the Internet Explorer user interface.

Simon Moores, chairman of the Microsoft Forum user association, said the up side of opening up Windows programming interfaces is that it will encourage the development of more middleware for Windows. "Microsoft has not in the past been co-operative in helping users develop for the Windows platform. This is a good news."

Moores believes that, in the long term, the judge's ruling forcing Microsoft to publish the internal interfaces in Windows will definitely benefit the Windows platform, by providing seamless connections to non-Microsoft software.

In spite of the ruling, for the time being, Microsoft is maintaining its current middleware strategy and the right to keep internal programming interfaces secret, as it prepares its appeal.

Neil Holloway, managing director of Microsoft said, "The more plumbing you put in the operating system, the more beneficial it is to software developers."

An example of this plumbing is the Windows 2000 DNA middleware platform, which now includes a new security interface. The Internet Security and Accelerator Server 2000 (Isa Server) is a firewall and cache for Windows 2000.

Microsoft's road to the ruling

July 1994

Microsoft and the US Department ofJustice sign a consent decree in which Microsoft cannot require PC suppliers to licence the Windows OS and other MS software

May 1995

Bill Gates writes a memo saying that Netscape's Web browser is a serious threat to Windows

August 1995

Microsoft launches Windows 95. It includes the Internet Explorer Web browser

December 1995

Microsoft's famous U-turn. It outlines a strategy to make its operating systems, middleware and application software Internet-enabled

September 1996

US DoJ investigates Windows 95.

At the Gartnergroup symposium in Cannes, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates speaks of how the Internet and integration had risen to the top of Microsoft's strategy

January 1997

Microsoft vice president writes a memo in which he describes why integrating Windows products is essential to win against Netscape

June 1998

Microsoft launches Windows 98. The Web browser is "integrated" into the operating system prompting the US DoJ to investigate the new OS

May 2000

In a last minute attempt to strike a deal with US DoJ, Microsoft agrees to disable Internet Explorer in its operating systems

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