Microsoft has designed
May 23, 2002 9:52 PM   Subscribe

Microsoft has designed a Windows XP patch that will trick computers into behaving as though IE, Outlook Express, and Messenger aren't there, though not removing them, per the requirements of its antitrust settlement. They demonstrated a working version to the AP yesterday. Oh yeah, and they're releasing it as a 40 megabyte download. In August. And it's other primary function will be to potentially sabotage the operating system. Good ol' Microsoft.
posted by gsteff (14 comments total)
hmm, windows already lets you select default web and email apps. I'm not sure exactly what sort of benefit this patch is going to provide.

this is so ridiculous, I have a hard time believing anyone would fall for it. then again, MSFT is the master of FUD, lots of people still believe what they say.

and I totally agree with you on the sabotage part.
posted by dorian at 10:08 PM on May 23, 2002

Isn't hiding desktop icons and later revealing them as per Microsoft's demonstration exactly what TweakUI was able to do six years ago?
posted by holloway at 10:16 PM on May 23, 2002

Yah, I don't understand what the difference is either. There is nothing preventing you from switching apps right now... and no microsoft product is as insidious in its installation as, say, Real Player. The government is wasting its time, this isn't the way to pursue a settlement.

I don't understand the sabotage comment -- you mean about them denying patches to hacked XP copies? Care to explain?
posted by malphigian at 11:02 PM on May 23, 2002

gsteff: It's a regularly-scheduled 40Mb update, aka Service Pack 1 for Windows XP, which will include the anti-piracy provisions (which merely tighten a loophole in their registration system). Part of that update will be this patch, which like all their patches will almost certainly be available separately.

BTW, your post suggests years of tutelage at the Register in how to spin Microsoft stories for the maximum amount of anti-M$ FUD. This is governed by a bible that says that a story about Microsoft giving away puppies to children be headlined as Microsoft initiative will eliminate cats. has a slightly more informed point of view. No, this control won't offer that much in actual new functionality, but it will simplify the management of these settings in one handy (and obvious) control. To see a choice (e.g. Opera) you will have to first install the software, but many vendors will have done this for you. What has been the case so far, though, is that Microsoft has made it at the least difficult for vendors to change these settings beforehand.

Other changes included as a result of the settlement will be turning off the pop-up that nags users to sign up for Passport.

Yes, the code modules will remain, but the fact is the settlement is already in place. I'm unsurprised, and unmoved, that CNet could find critics saying the solution "doesn't go far enough".
posted by dhartung at 11:46 PM on May 23, 2002

There is nothing preventing you from switching apps right now...

Yes, there is. If I were an OEM, I would be under the Microsoft licensing gun to leave the default apps alone before shipping to the customer. White box integrators and OEMs aren't permitted to change the browser, or will risk losing Windows resale privileges.
posted by majick at 7:01 AM on May 24, 2002

majick: Ah, yes, THAT kind of limitation -- but that is not a software limitation that Microsoft needs to change code for, no?

In any case, what you mention is the real problem, and thats what the government should be forcing MSFT to change, if anything.
posted by malphigian at 7:09 AM on May 24, 2002

Uh, malphigian, did you read the settlement? Or are you just making assumptions?

The November settlement provides:

The settlement reached today accomplishes this by:

* creating the opportunity for independent software vendors to develop products that will be competitive with Microsoft's middleware products on a function-by-function basis;

* giving computer manufacturers the flexibility to contract with competing software developers and place their middleware products on Microsoft's operating system;

* preventing retaliation against computer manufacturers, software developers, and other industry participants who choose to develop or use competing middleware products; and

* ensuring full compliance with the proposed Final Judgment and providing for swift resolution of technical disputes.

The February amendments:

* Insertion of additional terms to clarify that Microsoft must allow various third parties to set defaults for rival products in an unbiased manner (Section III.H.2);

* Insertion of an additional sentence that clarifies that Microsoft may not alter certain product configurations on the Windows desktop based on whether the products are Microsoft or non-Microsoft products, and must make any alterations in an unbiased manner (Section III.H.3)

In other words, now Dell or whomever can put Netscape on its computers, and make it the default, and disable any hint of Internet Explorer.
posted by dhartung at 8:31 AM on May 24, 2002

So, anybody find a patch yet to keep our FCKGW copies of XP running?
posted by anildash at 9:38 AM on May 24, 2002

I actually am pro-Microsoft, believe it or not. I just try to call them as I see them- when I read in the story that the patch would be available as a 40 mb update in August (I don't watch carefully, but I don't think I've ever seen an update that big) and that the only other feature mentioned in the article was another anti-piracy element with zero consumer functionality, I laughed. But I consider the government's antitrust case to be bad for the economy and directed my Microsoft's competitors, not the justice department. And I generally like their software a lot.
posted by gsteff at 1:14 PM on May 24, 2002

In August. And it's other primary function will be to potentially sabotage the operating system. Good ol' Microsoft.

I loathe Micro$oft as much as the next guy but I fail to see how you construe them trying to prevent illegal installations of their product to be "sabotage." I wish I knew where you live since you obviously would find it wrong to "sabotage" your home so that I can't come in and take whatever I want...
posted by RevGreg at 1:23 PM on May 24, 2002

From the article: "Microsoft's anti-piracy decision is not unprecedented and comes amid renewed debate in Washington about the adequacy of technology to protect copyrights. Microsoft previously used another software update to sabotage its Office business software electronically on computers it believed were running illegal copies."
posted by gsteff at 2:24 PM on May 24, 2002

Sorry gsteff - redirect my peevy remarks to the author of the article!
posted by RevGreg at 5:47 PM on May 24, 2002

RevGreg - Think of it this way...

You think MS's super-anti-pirate patch doesn't have a chance of glitching and blowing up? Think of the scale of the numbers here...
posted by Samizdata at 1:10 AM on May 26, 2002

You think MS's super-anti-pirate patch doesn't have a chance of glitching and blowing up?

I suppose it won't any less crappy than the OS itself - I don't do Windows so I won't be affected by this anywho.
posted by RevGreg at 3:20 PM on May 26, 2002

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