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Microsoft Government The Courts News

Developers As Pawns and One-Night Stands 268

jcatcw writes "At the Comes vs. Microsoft antitrust case, last Friday's testimony included evidence that James Plamondon, a Microsoft technical evangelist, in a 1996 speech referred to independent software developers as 'pawns' and compared wooing them to trying to win over a one-night stand. Last week's proceedings also included testimony by Ronald Alepin, a former CTO at Fujitsu Software Corp. and currently an adviser to the law firm Morrison Foerster LLP. He said that Lotus 1-2-3 was killed, in part, by Microsoft encouraging Lotus's programmers to use the Windows API even though Microsoft's own developers found it too complicated to use." The plaintiffs have created a site that includes transcripts of testimony presented in the case.
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Developers As Pawns and One-Night Stands

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  • Interesting stuff... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by a_karbon_devel_005 ( 733886 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @09:11AM (#17521304)
    The agreement even states that Apple will encourage its employees to use Microsoft Internet Explorer for Macintosh for all Apple-sponsored events and will not promote another browser to its employees. I had no idea Apple had agreements like this.
  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @09:12AM (#17521310)
    Were Java developers any better off until the recent open sourcing of Java? Not really. Neither were most independent developers. When you do that work, you are tying part of your future to another company's good will. That's all there is to it.
  • Re:Woo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @09:18AM (#17521350)
    I am guessing you havn't done much Microsoft Development. Did you ever wonder why MS Has features in their programs that you cannot program easily using Microsofts tools. When Office allows the fade in with graphics and colors menus in all their product while your API only allowed the text only popup Menus. MS Does do this. It is not about MS bashing it is about MS not giving us the tools to create modern applications.
  • Undocumented APIs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Oddscurity ( 1035974 ) * on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @09:32AM (#17521456)
    Ultimately this will/has hurt Windows, as those programs targetting the undocumented APIs -where some MS apps get their features from- will require that hidden API to remain relatively static. And when problems are found in this undocumented API, either you leave the problem in place and work around it (and thereby leave the existing software using it potentially vulnerable), or you have to push an update for all those programs.

    Maybe this is part of the reason why Linux's kernel has no fixed ABI?
  • by withears ( 881576 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @09:38AM (#17521488)
    Is it really news that contractors are considered nothing more than replaceable parts? Whenever we've staffed programs with contractors, it's always been understood (by my company and the contractors) that they are essentially mercenaries and not really part of our company and culture. (If they WANTED to be part of our (or any) company and culture, they wouldn't be contractors, right?) When things (i.e., money) get tight, who's the first to go? The contractors, of course. No surprises to anyone. We're not going to lay off our valuable employees. This seems like a ridiculous article/lawsuit.
  • Re:Woo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @09:38AM (#17521496)
    That's a dumb question. Office menus look the way they do because they're written from scratch to look that way. Hundreds of applications for every OS ever made do this, that doesn't mean that there's some huge conspiracy, just that the Office team spent more time getting their menus right than you did and enough time to QA is so that people like you would be tricked into thinking it's some hidden part of the OS. How paranoid are you? Programming menus isn't some "magic operation" that can only be performed by the OS, any decent programmer can make their own pull-down menu implementation. I'm sure Photoshop and other applications of Office's size do the same.

    Now asking *why* Office does this, that might be a valid question. But implying that it's some kind of conspiracy is stupid.

    Hell, Apple used to provide basically a plug-in architecture for drawing menus, windows and buttons since they knew overriding the default appearance and behavior would be popular. It was a code resource in Mac OS Classic and if you had one in there, Mac OS would automatically load your code whenever it needed to handle a click on menus. (Obviously a bad idea from a security standpoint... it was disabled long ago.)
  • by Lord_Slepnir ( 585350 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @09:41AM (#17521514) Journal
    Alright, I'm not a lawyer. I don't even play one on slashdot. But can someone please tell me how one Microsoft rep referring to developers as a cheap date is in any way shape or form relevant in an anti-trust case.

    Also, does anyone else get an image of the robot preacher from Futurerama when they hear the words "Tech Evangelist"?

  • by a_karbon_devel_005 ( 733886 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @09:46AM (#17521560)
    Actually, according to the transcript, the reason for the agreement to promote IE was not "symbiotic" or even stock-driven. Microsoft basically threatened to stop making Office for Mac unless Mac agreed to promote IE over Netscape.
  • Re:Undocumented APIs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord_Slepnir ( 585350 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @09:57AM (#17521630) Journal
    yeah, and as a kernel developer, I get sick of having to re-write parts of my modules every 2-3 maintainence releases (For example, how the way to do parameters was changed). And don't get me started on EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL (Bite me, Stallman). Maybe a stable (and available to us that don't work in GPL hippie-ville) API is needed, at least within the same minor release. I'm fine with having to change thing when I upgrade from 2.4.28 to 2.6.6, but not from 2.6.8 to 2.6.10.
  • Re:ok... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <`dadinportland' `at' `'> on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @10:46AM (#17522144) Homepage Journal
    Except the term 'Pawns' Refers to somethingnyou use and through away. Calling someone a pawn is considered derogatory.

    1) Chess matches are often won by sacrificing pawns. I, for one, have no desired to be sacrificed for someone elses aggenda.

    2) do you relizes that what you are saying boils down to "WHen a pawn does occasionally succeed, it is sacrificed as a matter of course for somoen of a high 'class'?" Having been on a team that created a piece of software that saved a financial institution 100 Million a year, and then watched VPs who weren't even on the project for 90% of it get 7 figure bonuses, while the team got a football* I have had enough of being a pawn.

    * The theme was Baseball.

    3) like so many upper managements. WHat's your point? You seem to be saying that if someone is not the top codong guru they deserve to be thrown away. Guess what? Even the people who aren't the top star have a place in development. Show me a top star coder who likes to do maintenance, QA and write dcumentation, and I'll show you someone you just made up.

  • Re:Undocumented APIs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Oddscurity ( 1035974 ) * on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @10:50AM (#17522200)
    Cue depends.exe [] to do just that, indeed. Some relatively well-known examples of using undocumented APIs are by Sysinternals [], who were recently acquired by Microsoft:
    Fundelete accomplishes this through the use of an undocumented API, ObOpenObjectByPointer
    The final step Fundelete performs is to convert the binary representation of the SID into a textual representation. Another undocumented API, RtlConvertSidToUnicodeString, performs this.
    Tokenmon relies on several undocumented SRM functions to obtain a logon ID from a thread's primary and impersonation tokens, and GetSecurityUserInfo, an undocumented function exported by the KSecDD (Kernel Security-support driver) that retrieves a logon session user's name, domain name, and logon server given a logon ID. Another interesting implementation detail is that several of the native API functions that Tokenmon hooks are not exported by ntoskrnl.exe for use by drivers. Thus, the Tokenmon GUI must reach into NTDLL.DLL, extract their system call numbers, and pass them to the driver.

    This courtesy of the people who unearthed the Sony Rootkit, which goes to show it takes someone with knowledge of deeply intertwingled cruft to find it?

    But more importantly: if ISVs behave in this way with limited knowledge of undocumented functions, how do you think Microsoft uses them?
  • Re:Undocumented APIs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @01:29PM (#17524448) Homepage
    Well, you get what you pay for. The linux devs didn't charge you a cent for your OS, and haven't designed it to support your intended use. You aren't contributing anything back to the community, so the community doesn't really owe you anything. The linux kernel was designed to intentionally make what you're doing difficult - mainly to encourage your boss to get sick and tired of spending so much time on code updates and donate the code back. Your boss obviously hasn't spent quite enough money yet, perhaps one day they will... :)

    If you want somebody who will let you have it your way, try buying an embedded OS, another unix, or maybe windows. But it won't be free-as-in-beer.
  • by I'm Don Giovanni ( 598558 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @01:31PM (#17524480)
    The Office team rolls its own UI widgets, and have done so for years. You refer to Office having icons next to the menu options; well the Office team did that on its own. They haven't used the OS-provided menus since at least Office 97 (their menus are simply toolbars, which is why they can be moved, detached, docked to any border, etc; they are just like any other of Office's toolbars). At the time Office 97 was made, the neither the system nor MS devtools provided toolbars (of the kind that Office uses). It's called "programming"; if neither the system nor the dev tools provide the widgets that you want, you program the widgets on your own!! *gasp*

    The Office team did nothing that any other dev wouldn't be able to do.
    Are you really telling me that other devs are unable to roll their own UI unless the widgets are provided for them by the OS or the dev tools? Come on, now.

"Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb