Allchin takes a beating over video

And as the trial transcript shows, he didn't do that well on the old integration issue either...

We conclude the story of last week's dramatic events when Microsoft was caught faking a demonstration to the court. (Full Video Transcript) Jim Allchin, bruised by David Boies' relentless cross examination, went into a rehearsed redirect examination from Stephen Holley. Allchin probably had a poor lunch, since he had spent most of it on the phone to Redmond: "I had a series of people moving very quickly. My conclusion is that it was a Feltenized machine; that, in fact, what we saw was exactly the failure cases that you would see on a Felten machine; and that there wasn't any confusion about the tape being stopped or started. There is a question about what happens in the title bar because that is what I had seen when I had done it. We do have that machine. It still duplicates in exactly the same way." Judge Jackson looked bemused. Holley tried to rescue Allchin from the hole he had dug in an email to Maritz on 13 March 1997 in which he suggested that IE4 and Windows should be separate. This contrary evidence in Microsoft's defence had exercised Microsoft's lawyers, and Allchin was evidently advised to say that: "The particular parts, these components of Windows, worked in Brad Silverberg's group, and I did not have the knowledge of how he had structured that organisation, and I didn't understand, because I hadn't drilled in the code, how integrated the two pieces had become. So, it wouldn't have been in my normal job knowledge in order to go and understand that, and I was looking at it from a very one-sided perspective, which is I knew I had some quality problems, and I had other things that the team that I was responsible for was worried about, and so I was trying to find ways to alleviate what I considered to be the problem, but the solution was just not right. There were many follow-on conversations to this. "In particular, I got more educated on the way the technology was done, and that helped, although I had seen demos, and I specifically drilled in what was the first page, the Trident piece, the mshtml and user. I had not spent enough time on the shell and the other components and how they had gotten the -- basically, the shell depended on IE technologies by this time." Allchin said that IE is "just an upgrade of the operating system". Holley asked Allchin about the D'Souza spreadsheet. Allchin waffled on that it showed a count of the number of functions that shdocvw.dll referred to in accessing and "my computer". This was intended to show the extent to which there was sharing. The secret that Microsoft would not reveal is exactly those Windows 98 files that are used exclusively in IE, and those which were shared. Microsoft had failed to establish a convincing reason for the sharing, since Boies had showed that the same result could be obtained using IE4 and Windows 95 without any "integration". The distinct impression remained that Microsoft had indeed only undertaken some "integration" to make it impossible for Navigator to be used instead of IE in all circumstances, since even if Navigator is included and declared by the user to be the default browser, there are many cases where only IE can be used, despite the user's wishes. Allchin came up with some statements that must have been suggested by Microsoft PR, such as "I think [providing Internet support right out of the box] has really helped society." Judge Jackson was not impressed and asked whether it was necessary to know all about protocols to get Internet access with Windows 95 and IE. He also complained to Holley that many of the answers to questions in his so-called redirect examination were included in Allchin's direct testimony and that "you really don't need to have him reiterate". He suggested that Holley eliminated what was repetitive or redundant from his questioning. Although Microsoft had scraped its corporate archive to find scraps of evidence for its having had a grand plan for integrating IE and Windows before Netscape was born, Microsoft did not like to admit that Gates had launched the wrong strategy with MSN, an issue that Boies had omitted to raise. At the time, Microsoft was trying to compete with AOL and CompuServe, and was late to appreciate the threat that Netscape posed. Allchin said that in early 1995, Microsoft had "licensed some technology" (Mosaic of course, but it was not mentioned by name) because its in-house effort to develop a browser had failed (not mentioned). At one point Allchin suggested that IE had to be a separate product because the printing of the boxes for the retail packs would take some time, and there wasn't time to integrate it. He also suggested that Microsoft's focus at the time was on OS/2. Finally Holley got round to the vexed problem of the Felten video. Allchin admitted to having fiddled with the registry, and was evidently pleased that Felten's program had only reduced the size of Windows 98 by 90,000 bytes out of about 124 to 128 megabytes. Holley swiftly moved to what he hoped would be calmer waters and brought up the Be operating system and how its NetPositive browser was integrated and not removable. Since neither knew anything about Be, they made fools of themselves, as Be CEO John-Louis Gassee pointed out in the Be Newsletter the same day: "Our NetPositive browser isn't integrated. In fact, we're doing our best to let other browsers - BeOS versions of Opera and Mozilla, to name two - flourish on the BeOS platform without playing games with OS features, or commercial relationships. Our browser is an application, just like a word processor, and is removed just as easily. I recall us jokingly referring to it in one of our press releases as 'DoJ approved.'" Gassee was amused that Chairman Gates was so frightened of BeOS that he had mentioned it at the annual shareholders' meeting as a threat from a dangerous competitor. What a pity Boies had not been better briefed about this: perhaps he should read The Register. Holley then returned to the Felten video problem. Allchin said that he title bar change resulted from his having installed Prodigy. Allchin said that his anti-Felten team had flown to the nation's capital overnight, and from a discussion with them, he said: "Because there were many demos being done, they did a rehearsal run. They started with a base build, and then they ran through the software that they were going to show, and then they did the removal of the software through the 'Add and remove programs'. And in this particular case, Prodigy during that remove doesn't -- it removes that key which, on a regular Windows 98 system, would make no difference. And then they eventually did the demonstrations that were shown. So it was as part of the rehearsal of just, you know, going through what was on the tape, which is the Prodigy system changed that title." He then said: "The video was correct": no doubt this conclusion will haunt the remainder of his career. Allchin was then led through some prepared remarks about why Microsoft had designed Windows 98 in the way it had. It was very unconvincing. Holley thought he had better bring up the matter of Michael Dertouzos, who was scheduled to be a Microsoft witness but was rejected because during his deposition he advocated IE being separate. Boies objected that it was hearsay for Allchin to represent the views of Dertouzos, and Judge Jackson sustained the objection. Boies also successfully objected to Holley's attempt to start Microsoft's rebuttal case by introducing an Apple 10-K report to the SEC concerning Apple's view of Internet integration. Holley had more luck with a Sun email of 15 June 1995 in which it was stated that "customers will expect the Solaris desktop to include tools to access the Web by default". It was stretching it to suggest that this implied Sun would integrate a browser in the same way as Microsoft. Holley finished by getting Allchin to confirm that MSN had less than 2 million subscribers, compared with AOL's 14 million plus. Boies' recross examination must have made Holley wish he's not raised the Sun browsing issue, since the first sentence on the page that Holley had used called the browser an "application". Boies then asked Allchin if Microsoft was the only vendor that "prevents customers from removing the browser". The hapless Holley objected to the question, but was overruled. Allchin struggled against the inevitable answer and mumbled that "We have taken a risk... you can't please all customers..." and eventually said "Yes". Allchin said that Microsoft allowed end users to remove the IE icon, but not OEMs. Boies referred to a deposition of Allchin on 19 March 1998 in which he had said that including IE3 with Windows was done to compete with Netscape. Holley objected to the line of questioning, saying it was confusing, but Judge Jackson said "Well, I don't find it confusing. And I think it's sufficiently embraced within the lines of interrogation you were pursuing as to make it appropriate recross examination. So I am going to overrule your objection." Boies introduced a series of emails that systematically destroyed Allchin's credibility, and made nonsense of the thrust of Microsoft's defence for IE integration. Allchin emailed Maritz on 20 December 1996 about "Concerns for the future". First was "Ensuring that we leverage Windows. I don't understand how IE's going to win. The current path is simply to copy everything that Netscape does packaging and product wise. Let's suppose IE is as good as Navigator/Communicator. Who wins? The one with 80 percent market share. Maybe being free helps us, but once people are used to a product it's hard to change them. Consider Office. We're more expensive today and we're still winning. My conclusion is that we must leverage Windows more. Treating IE as just an add-on to Windows which is cross-platform losing our biggest advantage - Windows market share. We should dedicate a cross-group team to come up with ways to leverage Windows technically more. ... We should think first about an integrated solution - this is our strength." Allchin confessed he had subsequently discussed the email with Microsoft attorneys. Allchin could not argue with Boies' conclusion that he was saying that to be competitive with Netscape, Windows integration was needed. Allchin emailed Maritz on 2 January 1997, worrying that Microsoft didn't have a long-term winning strategy: "I feel that we are street fighting", saying he was reminded of the Novell battles [which Microsoft lost]. Maritz agreed that integration should be the basic strategy, but that "OEMs suffer", presumably from a further delay to Windows and hence the sales of new PCs. Boies seized on the remark that Windows 98 "must be a simple upgrade, but most importantly it must be a killer on OEM shipments so that Netscape never gets a chance on these systems." The intention to freeze Netscape out of the most effective distribution channel could not be clearer. Allchin gave some fascinating insights into the internal wrangling at Microsoft about IE4 and Windows 98 integration. Maritz emailed on 7 January 1997 saying that, of the options (1) holding Windows 98 for IE4 in August; (2) having IE3 in Windows 98 in June; and (3) giving OEMs IE3 and Windows 98 and holding retail Windows 98 until IE4 was ready, he preferred the first. His reason was that "to combat NSCP, we have to position the browser as 'going away' and do deeper integration into Windows. ... IE integration will be the most compelling feature of Memphis [Windows 98]." On 18 February 1997, Allchin emailed Gates about his concerns: "We do not have agreement on our strategy within the company and the company is often working cross-wise internally. ... In my opinion, Windows is in the process of being exterminated here at Microsoft." Boies was interested in Allchin's remark that "On our current path IE4 will not be very integrated into Windows." Allchin emailed Maritz on 28 January 1997 that Joachim Kempin, the VP in charge of OEMs, strongly disagreed about the delay to Windows 98 because of IE, and wanted it shipped without IE. A Microsoft marketing review dated 27 May 1998 showed that "Many end users have IE and Netscape - view both browsers as parity products". This was very different from the impression that Microsoft had tried to create from product reviews, and threw grave suspicion on both Microsoft's analysis of the results, presented by the ever-malleable professional witness Dean Schmalensee, and what influence Microsoft might have brought to bear on the reviewers. Allchin claimed not to have known about the presentation, and avoided responding to a further question about a comment that "'It came with my computer' is the number one reason people switch to IE from Netscape". Boies found some very dangerous turf for Microsoft when he asked about an email from Allchin to his team concerning the Felten claim that Microsoft had stopped his program from working from 4 December. Allchin was asked why he had said "Please no mail on this that is not attorney-client privileged". Boies brought up a claim by Allchin in his direct testimony that Felten's program results in a memory leak "and after a few hours the operating system becomes unusable". A little later, Boies quietly asked: "Microsoft has also had a variety of problems with memory leaks; correct sir?" The hapless Allchin had to admit that "Yes, it's something we work on quite a bit." It's also something that users have had to put up with since Windows 1.0, and which remains Microsoft's most serious bug, unsolved for around 15 years. Having got Allchin relaxed, Boies pounced and replayed some extracts from the video. He asked Allchin to let him know "if you change machines in the middle of the sequence". Judge Jackson took an immediate interest, and closely questioned Allchin about the number of machines used. Allchin admitted to "multiple machines" being used. Allchin admitted that Yusuf Mehdi "became sick" so that "they re-did the voice ... so there were clearly multiple voices there." Allchin had evidently not been present during the filming of the demonstrations, so Boies' questions were often in vain. Boies suggested that a different machine was used in a zoom shot. Allchin started to reply: "We are just trying to show the demonstration. This wasn't in our lab trying to be incredibly precise, being -- we were trying to - " when Judge Jackson stopped him: "How can I rely on it if you can't tell me whether it's the same machine or whether any changes have been made to it? It's very troubling, Mr Allchin. And I would feel much better about it if you had made the test yourself, if you had been there." Things got much worse. The two icons on the screen had become one, but moments later there were two icons again. Allchin again admitted there were multiple machines in the demonstrations. This was too much for the judge: "It simply casts doubt on the reliability, entire reliability, of the video demonstration. It's difficult to make a finding as to what it reveals." Allchin offered to bring in a machine to show him. Judge Jackson told him to talk to his lawyers. Boies continued the extracts and showed further inconsistencies. Boies' further recross examination was a funeral service for Microsoft' business ethics. Judge Jackson allowed Allchin to attempt to repeat the tests himself overnight, with DoJ representatives present. ® Complete Register trial coverage

Other stories you might like

  • Has Intel gone too far with its Ohio fab 'delay' stunt?
    With construction unceremoniously underway, x86 giant may have overplayed its hand

    COMMENT The way Intel has been talking about the status of its $20 billion Ohio fab project, you would be forgiven if you assumed that construction on the Midwest mega-site has been delayed in light of Congress struggling to pass a large subsidies package that would support new American chip factories.

    When Intel delayed a groundbreaking ceremony for the Ohio manufacturing site two weeks ago out of frustration over the subsidies inaction, some headlines may have given you the impression the semiconductor giant was putting off construction entirely.

    However, an Intel spokesperson made it clear to The Register and others at the time that the start date for construction had not changed.

    Continue reading
  • Hive ransomware gang rapidly evolves with complex encryption, Rust code
    RaaS malware devs have been busy bees

    The Hive group, which has become one of the most prolific ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) operators, has significantly overhauled its malware, including migrating the code to the Rust programming language and using a more complex file encryption process.

    Researchers at the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) uncovered the Hive variant while analyzing a change in the group's methods.

    "With its latest variant carrying several major upgrades, Hive also proves it's one of the fastest evolving ransomware families, exemplifying the continuously changing ransomware ecosystem," the researchers said in a write-up this week.

    Continue reading
  • What do you mean your exaflop is better than mine?
    Gaming the system was fine for a while, now it's time to get precise about precision

    Comment A multi-exaflop supercomputer the size of your mini-fridge? Sure, but read the fine print and you may discover those performance figures have been a bit … stretched.

    As more chipmakers bake support for 8-bit floating point (FP8) math into next-gen silicon, we can expect an era of increasingly wild AI performance claims that differ dramatically from the standard way of measuring large system performance, using double-precision 64-bit floating point or FP64.

    When vendors shout about exascale performance, be aware that some will use FP8 and some FP64, and it's important to know which is being used as a metric. A computer system that can achieve (say) 200 peta-FLOPS of FP64 is a much more powerful beast than a system capable of 200 peta-FLOPS at just FP8.

    Continue reading
  • Meta's AI translation breaks 200 language barrier
    Open source model improves translation of rarer spoken languages by 70%

    Meta's quest to translate underserved languages is marking its first victory with the open source release of a language model able to decipher 202 languages.

    Named after Meta's No Language Left Behind initiative and dubbed NLLB-200, the model is the first able to translate so many languages, according to its makers, all with the goal to improve translation for languages overlooked by similar projects. 

    "The vast majority of improvements made in machine translation in the last decades have been for high-resource languages," Meta researchers wrote in a paper [PDF]. "While machine translation continues to grow, the fruits it bears are unevenly distributed," they said. 

    Continue reading
  • Tracking cookies found in more than half of G20 government websites
    Sorry, conspiracy theorists, it's more likely sloppy webdev work rather than spying

    We expect a certain amount of cookie-based tracking on retail websites and social networks, but in some countries up to 90 percent of government sites have implemented trackers – and serve them seemingly without user consent. 

    A study evaluated more than 118,000 URLs of 5,500 government websites – think .gov,,, etc – hosted in the twenty largest global economies – the G20 – and discovered a surprising tracking cookie problem, even among countries party to Europe's GDPR and those who have their own data privacy regulations.

    On average, the study found, more than half of cookies created on G20 government websites were third-party cookies, meaning they were created by outside entities typically to collect information on the user. At least 10 percent, going up to 90 percent, come from known third party cookies or trackers, we're told.

    Continue reading
  • Iceotope attracts funds for liquid cooling from global investors
    Round led by Singapore's ABC Impact, which sees growing market for the technology in Asia

    UK-based liquid cooling company Iceotope has scored £30 million (c $35.7 million) in a funding round led by Singapore's ABC Impact private equity provider, which sees a growing market for the technology in Asia.

    The investment syndicate providing the funding comprises Northern Gritstone, British Patient Capital, Pavilion Capital, and an existing investor, Edinv. Also included is SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust, an investment company dedicated to energy-efficiency projects.

    According to Iceotope, the investment syndicate also includes nVent, a specialist in heat-management systems and enclosures. In addition to investing, nVent has formed a trading agreement with Iceotope on modular integrated solutions for datacenters, edge facilities, and high-performance computing (HPC) applications.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022