The Microsoft antitrust case yesterday took a new turn when Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly granted the nine US States still fighting the company access to Windows source code. They'd asked for this earlier in the week, but it's still faintly surprising that they're going to get it (apparently - Microsoft can be expected to wriggle and emit loud stuck pig noises).
Kollar-Kotelly played it deadpan: ""It seems to me that if your side has access to it, then the other side, frankly, should have access to it," she said in a conference call. Presumably she means 'access for the purpose of the case,' as otherwise the reasoning would apply equally to, say, access to Steve Ballmer's stock options.
The States want access to the code in order to confirm that Windows can be customised, and can operate without the presence of IE. Microsoft has contended throughout the trial that this is not the case, and that removing IE would break it. The courts however concluded that the company did illegally commingle (that is, arbitrarily mix up for commercial gain) code in Windows, and some technical input on how it could be ripped apart again would be helpful. We should also at this point stress that we are aware of 98lite, even if the US legal system isn't, so stop telling us about it, OK?
One interesting aspect of the judge's order is that the States are specifically being given access to Windows XP embedded code, as they are of the view that this particular class of Windows can be used to show that Windows can be customised. The Register's view is that embedded versions of Windows are considerably less customised and embedded than Microsoft actually lets on, but we'll see.
Or perhaps we'll see. Microsoft is so sensitive about access to its source code that it will surely now go into a legal frenzy fighting the order, so it could take a while. ®
Show us Windows source, States ask judge