We've already touched on the million billion trillion versions of Windows Steve Ballmer says Microsoft would have to do if the Unsettling States had their way, but how, precisely, would this work? Further delving into the transcript of Steve's deposition reveals a chilling, dastardly, Dr Evil plan masterminded by Sun Microsystems.
Or alternatively, Dr Evil/Ballmer is passing on the plan he himself has masterminded to the assiduous Sun attorneys who even as you read are beavering their way through the deposition transcripts.
It goes like this. Having confidently asserted that there is no substantial demand from OEMs for versions of Windows "from which pieces of middleware have been removed," Steve is asked how come there would have to be an infinite number of versions of Windows, if nobody was actually going to ask for them. Hmm...
"Well," says Steve, "the way this thing is written, this is not just a request from OEMs, it's also a request from third party licensees, you know. Sun Microsystems go buy 10,000 copies and they can just have people sit there and generate work requests to us every minute of every day. Just as an example."
Fiendishly cunning isn't it? And we bet Sun hadn't even thought of it until they read it here. But Steve's only just getting warmed up - there's more: "Any - any rogue who wants to can do it, or anybody who wants to pay an OEM. Somebody could say, 'Look, I want to make Microsoft's life miserable so I'll tell you what, I'll pay you $10 million a year to torture Microsoft,' and under this provision that works out pretty well." He doesn't say, but he's just got to be thinking about Crazy Larry here, hasn't he? Yes, he is:
"And, you know, we have competition who I think has been very involved in this whole process, who I could see easily saying, 'I'll write - I'll write that check.'"
Those of you who think the Good Doctor has now lost it entirely, brace yourself - there's a deal more ungluing to come. He imagines all of the enemies who've been bankrolling the litigation and pulling the strings of the legions of attorneys, thinks about how much money they've got, how much they hate Microsoft, and starts multiplying. And multiplying. And multiplying.
"Even if we created the two to the nth versions, which would be - I don't know - by rough count 4,000 or 6,000 versions of Windows that we'd need to design just for those, there would need to be 4,000, 6,000, something like - 4,000, 8,000 unique versions of Windows that we would need to test, design for and manage. Let's assume that each of those was requested by - by somebody. I'd make that assumption, anyway. It's still something like a need for us to be prepared to put in the marketplace and support over 4,000 different versions of Microsoft Windows, which - which, again, now you could say is that nonengineerable?
"Well, pretty much is the honest and truthful answer. If you did the engineering you would stop doing all new development at the end of the day, and then you'd get a passel of problems." Indeed. But just 4,000? No, as you were: "the engineers would be busy designing and testing the 4,000 - at least 4,000 versions explicitly called out for, let alone the potentially millions of additional versions contemplated by -- by this decree or this - this - what shall I say? I don't know what I'm supposed to call it. This proposal."
The Proposal of Doom, clearly... ®