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May 2, 2002—In this issue:
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
- Free Office Suite Now Shipping
- Microsoft Remedy Hearings: Professor Denounces Modular Windows Plan
- Cast Your Vote for our Reader's Choice Awards!
- Need 24 x 7 Availability?
3. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, firstname.lastname@example.org)
The OpenOffice.org community has finally unleashed the long-awaited initial release of OpenOffice.org 1.0, a full-featured, free Microsoft Office alternative. OpenOffice.org, the largest open-source project ever completed, contains 7.5 million lines of code—the result of more than 18 months of collaborative effort by more than 10,000 members of the OpenOffice.org community. OpenOffice.org 1.0 and Sun Microsystems' StarOffice 6.0, which will ship later this month, share the same code base.
"OpenOffice.org 1.0 may be the single best hope for consumers fed-up with Microsoft's desktop monopoly," said Eric Raymond, cofounder of the Open Source Initiative (OSI). "With Sun moving to a full service and support business model for StarOffice, users around the globe will continue to have a free office productivity software tool through the OpenOffice.org open source community."
OpenOffice.org runs on Windows, Linux, Sun Solaris, and various other UNIX versions and offers four primary desktop applications—word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, and drawing. The suite works transparently with popular document file formats, including Microsoft Office formats. Sun initiated the OpenOffice.org community's creation less than 2 years ago, when the company donated the StarOffice source code and opened it up to public improvement and peer review, a process that Sun says has resulted in a stable, secure, and flexible software suite.
For more information and the free download, visit the OpenOffice.org Web site.
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor testified yesterday in the Microsoft remedy hearings that a plan by the nine nonsettling states and the District of Columbia to further punish the company is "extreme" and "infeasible." Stuart Madnick, an IT professor and computer science expert, said that Windows' design is more like a "house of cards" than the modular block diagrams people often use to describe it. Stripping out components such as Internet Explorer (IE), he said, would have far-reaching ramifications.
"There could be blocks of code scattered all over that would be relied upon by \[IE\]," Madnick said. "To remove \[IE\], you may have to remove tens of thousands of blocks of code, and the question is whether the wall will still stand."
Madnick also took the states to task for their other remedy proposals, including one that forces Microsoft to release interoperability information for its server products. This action, he said, would unfairly let competitors clone Microsoft products. "\[The states' remedy\] would greatly slow, if not end, innovation in Microsoft's major products, its Windows \[OSs\], and its Office suite," he noted. "There is substantial probability that Microsoft would be unable to develop and market a workable version of Windows that complied with the requirements."
The states' legal team routinely brushed aside Madnick's arguments. Attorney Kevin Hodges told the court that Madnick is a highly paid Microsoft supporter who has represented the company in four other cases and who coauthored a report that defended the company in its European antitrust case. And when asked to cite examples of other OSs that intertwine Web-browsing code and the core OS code, Madnick came up blank. Other OSs simply link to the browser UI, he finally admitted, not the underlying code, as Windows does. (In the original Microsoft antitrust trial, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled that Microsoft artificially commingled Windows and IE code solely to harm competitors, not for any valid technical reason.)
Worse still for Microsoft's case, Madnick's couldn't back up any of his claims on cross-examination. And as the states' lawyers dismantled his testimony piece by piece, Madnick clearly became frustrated. "I'm not trying to be evasive," he countered at one juncture. "I'm just trying to be precise." The states' lawyers then shot down yet another Madnick claim involving the software interoperability language in the Department of Justice (DOJ) proposed settlement, which he said was more detailed than the states' proposed remedies. However, when pressed to give an example, Madnick couldn't come up with one. "I somehow think there's something I'm missing, but I can't spot it at the moment," he said. Madnick returns to the stand today, followed by Microsoft executive Will Poole.
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