BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : MARCH 22, 1999 ISSUE
READERS REPORT

Microsoft: The Demo Wasn't Rigged


In ''Now, it's Intel in the dock'' (News: Analysis & Commentary, Mar. 1), you wrote that, in the Microsoft Corp. trial, ''Justice attorneys showed that a taped Microsoft demo was rigged.'' This is untrue. The video you refer to demonstrated the damage caused to Microsoft's Windows operating system by government witness Edward Felten's ''prototype removal program.'' When the video was played in court, however, government attorneys highlighted an inconsistency--one title read ''Microsoft Internet Explorer'' where, if the Felten program had been run, it should have read ''Windows 98.''

Microsoft looked into the problem and found that, while the demonstration was being taped, an entry in the Windows registry had been changed by a third-party software application used to test the effects of the Felten program on applications. The application apparently changed the entry when it was loaded, then deleted it when the application was removed. This caused Windows 98 to revert to the default title, ''Microsoft Internet Explorer,'' even though the Felten program had been run.

Microsoft repeated its tests of the Felten program in the presence of Justice Dept. observers and played a video of these proceedings in court. The new tape confirmed the findings of the original: that Felten's program fails to remove Web-browsing functionality from Windows 98, causes the operating system to malfunction, and breaks many software applications that run on Windows. Justice's lawyers offered no challenge to the accuracy or veracity of the new videotaped demonstration.

Robert J. Herbold
Executive Vice-President
Microsoft Corp.
Redmond, Wash.


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