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Comes v. Microsoft - Trial Highlights, Jan. 8, 2007 - Mr. Alepin Has a Jolting Experience
Wednesday, January 10 2007 @ 07:09 AM EST

Something happened in the Iowa antitrust trial, Comes v. Microsoft, on January 8th, that I wanted to highlight. You can get the complete transcript, if you wish, from the www.iowaconsumercase.org website [Update: No longer in existence, having been removed on settlement, but all the documents are housed here on Groklaw], which provides daily coverage.

Plaintiffs' expert Ronald Alepin was still on the stand. Direct examination continued, and he was in the middle of explaining a number of technological terms and concepts to the jury, from the Court's Findings of Fact in the US antitrust trial, Findings which the jury in Iowa has been instructed they are to accept as true.

So he explained the blue and white screens of death, what a dual boot startup is, commingling code, and then tying or bundling, specifically tying Internet Explorer with the operating system. He explained how you can't use Add/Remove to get IE or Media Player off your hard drive, but that you can use SPAD, "set program access and defaults", to choose Firefox or another browser as your default browser instead of IE. However, IE remains on your hard drive.

Why does that matter? Alepin told an anecdote, something that happened to him over the weekend. He found using another browser a jolting experience. He was setting up a router for the legal team, so they could get their email there, because the lawyers were struggling with it, and lo and behold, the software that came with the router overrode his preference -- set for Mozilla's Firefox -- and insisted on launching IE instead. Not only that, but although he tried to override it, his system insisted on running IE instead of Firefox henceforth.

Here's the full exchange, with plaintiffs' lawyer Steven Lamb asking the questions:

Q. Then there's another one below add new programs. It says, add/remove Windows components. What is that, sir?

A. There are additional components, optional components of the Windows product that you can add or remove from your system, and you use that -- you use that button to get there and to choose what you want to add or remove.

Q. Does that completely remove them from the hard drive?

A. It completely removes them from your system if -- in earlier times it would, yes.

Q. How about now?

A. Now, for several of the components, it does not remove them from the operating -- from the hard drive at all.

Q. Such as?

A. Such as Internet Explorer and media player.

Q. Okay. And then down below there's something that says set program access and defaults. What is that?

A. Set program access and defaults is -- sometimes referred to as SPAD -- is a piece of software provided in the Microsoft operating system in, I believe, that allows the user to choose the -- to set his preferences or her preferences for certain types of middleware software, including the browser, the media player, the Instant Messenger, the -- an E-mail program. So those types of programs.

The set program access defaults function in the operating system allows you to set the default and to determine whether or not a user can -- whether or not access to the Microsoft software is to be allowed or not.

So you can choose, let's say, Netscape Navigator as your default browser, and then you can say do not allow access to Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

That's what set program access default function in the Windows operating system provides you.

Q. Okay. What is the technological impact of excluding Internet Explorer from the add/remove programs utility?

A. It should -- as a technical matter it should prevent the program from being accessed.

Q. Okay. So when it's not on add/remove programs, you can't get rid of it?

A. You can't get rid of it.

Q. Okay. And where is it now, in the add/remove Windows components?

A. No, I don't believe so.

Q. Where is it?

A. It's not there. It's available -- it's accessible -- I'm sorry.

It is accessible through the add/remove Windows components, but that simply performs the same function as the set program access defaults.

In other words, it doesn't remove the software from the computer disk. It doesn't remove it as the add/remove programs would do. It simply describes itself as saying remove access to the Internet Explorer.

Q. Okay. So that's true today; right? Internet Explorer is not an add/remove program utility?

A. It's not part of that, no.

Q. And you can't remove it from the hard drive; right?

A. Cannot remove it from the hard drive.

Q. So the bottom line is, no matter what you do, you can't get rid of Internet Explorer? A. You cannot get rid of it....

Q. Okay. How about in Europe? Can you get it in Europe without Windows media player?

A. You can get it without media player in Europe.

MR. LAMB: Your Honor, would this be a good time for a break?

THE COURT: No. Keep going.

MR. LAMB: No?

THE COURT: Keep going.

Q. Is there a more current example that you have or you've tried to either install software and you've had some difficulties in this same regard?

A. Yes.

Q. Can you explain to the jury what that was?

A. Well, over the weekend, I was -- Mr. Hagstrom behind you, Mr. Lamb, has a large room that we've been using to congregate, maybe watch the ball games over the weekend.

And Mr. Hagstrom purchased a router, a piece of networking equipment that would enable us to check our E-mail continuously over the weekend. And they -- he and a couple of his colleagues were trying to get the router to work.

And I can only watch people with boxing gloves try and install software for so long before I get up and have to do something about it. So I took the Net -- this is a Net Gear router product. And I took the CD, and using my computer I was going to install and configure the -- this piece of networking equipment for them.

And -- excuse me -- when you insert the CD, it auto starts or auto plays the content on the CD.

And the first thing that it did, said would you like to install or read the documentation. Of course I said I don't want to read the documentation, I want to install the software. So true to practices.

First thing I did was press the install the software button. And Microsoft's Internet Explorer showed up on the screen with the Net Gear software.

Q. Is that a problem?

A. Well, it's a problem because on my computer, my preference is set through the set program access defaults to Mozilla, a browser that's made by a company -- well, an organization called Mozilla, a Firefox browser.

And I checked this again. My set program access default said don't let the Internet Explorer start. Disable access to Microsoft Internet Explorer.

So I was quite surprised that Microsoft's Internet Explorer was, in fact, launched by the Netscape installation CD contrary to what I had established as the rules for operating on my computer.

Q. What did you do next?

A. Well, I tried to get the Internet -- I tried to get it to run using my Mozilla software, and it kept insisting on running using the Internet Explorer.

Q. What's the technological impact of that?

A. Well, the technological impact is that I'm not able to prevent the Internet Explorer from launching, from reaching out and getting onto the network and being active in spite of whatever policies I may have concerning access and how I want to control access and use on the computer networks.

The second thing is that because it's always there and it can always be activated, regardless of my choices and my preferences and my policies for my computer, a third-party company, a hardware vendor, in this case Net Gear, or a software company, knows that it's there and they will do what they just did, and that is reach out and grab the Internet Explorer on the disk installed in my computer.

Q. Okay. So you set your preferences through SPAD; right?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. And SPAD is what Microsoft designs to allow you to set your preferences or your choices; right?

A. Yes.

Q. And then ultimately Microsoft overrode your choices?

A. That's correct.

So, there you are, as an end user, and you may not have Mr. Alepin's tech savvy -- he likely was eventually able to figure out a fix eventually -- but the point is that even he was unable to prevent this unintended, jolting takeover of his computer.

Now, why might a person choose to use a browser other than IE? Well, it might be that you read in The New York Times some "Tips for Protecting the Home Computer," that IE has security issues, and you decided to take the Times' advice and use an alternative browser for your own safety:

Like Windows, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser is also a large, convenient target for code-writing vandals. Alternative browsers, like Firefox and Opera, may insulate users.

Or maybe you are one of the people who decided to accept CERT's advice in 2004 to stop using IE:

The U.S. government's Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) is warning Web surfers to stop using Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) browser.

On the heels of last week's sophisticated malware attack that targeted a known IE flaw, US-CERT updated an earlier advisory to recommend the use of alternative browsers because of "significant vulnerabilities" in technologies embedded in IE.

"There are a number of significant vulnerabilities in technologies relating to the IE domain/zone security model, the DHTML object model, MIME-type determination, and ActiveX. It is possible to reduce exposure to these vulnerabilities by using a different Web browser, especially when browsing untrusted sites," US-CERT noted in a vulnerability note.

So you made a conscious decision to use Firefox instead. But thanks to Microsoft's tying, you can't actually get rid of Internet Explorer, and here comes NetGear's software, which reaches into your hard drive, activates IE despite your deliberate wish not to take a chance using it and forces it on you, something that it can do because NetGear knows IE is still on your hard drive, even though you don't want it.

So, let's say you are not a techie, and you don't know how to fix that problem, so you give up and use IE. When the next malware issue does harm to your computer, who is to blame?

Do you see why it matters to be able to see the code on your computer *and* be able to control it, to modify it to make sure your computer does only what you want it to do? That, my friends, is why I changed to GNU/Linux, and it's why I really prefer to avoid binary blobs, period. I would rather do without some bells and whistles, thanks anyway, to make sure my computer is mine and responsive to my wishes. What happened to Mr. Alepin over the weekend can never happen to you using Free Software -- not unless you start compromising and deciding you can't live without proprietary, closed binary drivers and codecs and all that jazz. Mr. Alepin's testimony is important to stress, I think, so we don't forget that with closed software, you are not in the driver's seat.

But how did it happen that one can't remove IE even if one wishes to, using the Add/Remove tool Microsoft provides? Judging by Mr. Alepin's testimony, this isn't ancient history. It's a current issue. You might like to reread the Court's Findings of Fact in U.S. v. Microsoft, something the jury in Iowa is also doing, and here's the section on that very matter:

**********************************

2. Excluding Navigator from the OEM Channel

a. Binding Internet Explorer to Windows

i. The Status of Web Browsers as Separate Products

149. Consumers determine their software requirements by identifying the functionalities they desire. While consumers routinely evaluate software products on the basis of the functionalities the products deliver, they generally lack sufficient information to make judgements based on the designs and implementations of those products. Accordingly, consumers generally choose which software products to license, install, and use on the basis of the products' functionalities, not their designs and implementations.

150. While the meaning of the term "Web browser" is not precise in all respects, there is a consensus in the software industry as to the functionalities that a Web browser offers a user. Specifically, a Web browser provides the ability for the end user to select, retrieve, and perceive resources on the Web. There is also a consensus in the software industry that these functionalities are distinct from the set of functionalities provided by an operating system.

151. Many consumers desire to separate their choice of a Web browser from their choice of an operating system. Some consumers, particularly corporate consumers, demand browsers and operating systems separately because they prefer to standardize on the same browser across different operating systems. For such consumers, standardizing on the browser of their choice results in increased productivity and lower training and support costs, and permits the establishment of consistent security and privacy policies governing Web access.

152. Moreover, many consumers who need an operating system, including a substantial percentage of corporate consumers, do not want a browser at all. For example, if a consumer has no desire to browse the Web, he may not want a browser taking up memory on his hard disk and slowing his system's performance. Also, for businesses desiring to inhibit employees' access to the Internet while minimizing system support costs, the most efficient solution is often using PC systems without browsers.

153. Because of the separate demand for browsers and operating systems, firms have found it efficient to supply the products separately. A number of operating system vendors offer consumers the choice of licensing their operating systems without a browser. Others bundle a browser with their operating system products but allow OEMs, value-added resellers, and consumers either to not install it or, if the browser has been pre-installed, to uninstall it. While Microsoft no longer affords this flexibility (it is the only operating system vendor that does not), it has always marketed and distributed Internet Explorer separately from Windows in several channels. These include retail sales, service kits for ISVs, free downloads over the Internet, and bundling with other products produced both by Microsoft and by third-party ISVs. In order to compete with Navigator for browser share, as well as to satisfy corporate consumers who want their diverse PC platforms to present a common browser interface to employees, Microsoft has also created stand-alone versions of Internet Explorer that run on operating systems other than 32-bit Windows, including the Mac OS and Windows 3.x.

154. In conclusion, the preferences of consumers and the responsive behavior of software firms demonstrate that Web browsers and operating systems are separate products.

ii. Microsoft's Actions

155. In contrast to other operating system vendors, Microsoft both refused to license its operating system without a browser and imposed restrictions — at first contractual and later technical — on OEMs' and end users' ability to remove its browser from its operating system. As its internal contemporaneous documents and licensing practices reveal, Microsoft decided to bind Internet Explorer to Windows in order to prevent Navigator from weakening the applications barrier to entry, rather than for any pro-competitive purpose.

156. Before it decided to blunt the threat that Navigator posed to the applications barrier to entry, Microsoft did not plan to make it difficult or impossible for OEMs or consumers to obtain Windows without obtaining Internet Explorer. In fact, the company's internal correspondence and external communications indicate that, as late as the fall of 1994, Microsoft was planning to include low-level Internet "plumbing," such as a TCP/IP stack, but not a browser, with Windows 95.

157. Microsoft subsequently decided to develop a browser to run on Windows 95. As late as June 1995, however, Microsoft had not decided to bundle that browser with the operating system. The plan at that point, rather, was to ship the browser in a separate "frosting" package, for which Microsoft intended to charge. By April or May of that year, however, Microsoft's top executives had identified Netscape's browser as a potential threat to the applications barrier to entry. Throughout the spring, more and more key executives came to the conclusion that Microsoft's best prospect of quashing that threat lay in maximizing the usage share of Microsoft's browser at Navigator's expense. The executives believed that the most effective way of carrying out this strategy was to ensure that every copy of Windows 95 carried with it a copy of Microsoft's browser, then code-named "O'Hare." For example, two days after the June 21, 1995 meeting between Microsoft and Netscape executives, Microsoft's John Ludwig sent an E- mail to Paul Maritz and the other senior executives involved in Microsoft's browser effort. "[O]bviously netscape does see us as a client competitor," Ludwig wrote. "[W]e have to work extra hard to get ohare on the oem disks."

158. Microsoft did manage to bundle Internet Explorer 1.0 with the first version of Windows 95 licensed to OEMs in July 1995. It also included a term in its OEM licenses that prohibited the OEMs from modifying or deleting any part of Windows 95, including Internet Explorer, prior to shipment. The OEMs accepted this restriction despite their interest in meeting consumer demand for PC operating systems without Internet Explorer. After all, Microsoft made the restriction a non-negotiable term in its Windows 95 license, and the OEMs felt they had no commercially viable alternative to pre-installing Windows 95 on their PCs. Apart from a few months in the fall of 1997, when Microsoft provided OEMs with Internet Explorer 4.0 on a separate disk from Windows 95 and permitted them to ship the latter without the former, Microsoft has never allowed OEMs to ship Windows 95 to consumers without Internet Explorer. This policy has guaranteed the presence of Internet Explorer on every new Windows PC system.

159. Microsoft knew that the inability to remove Internet Explorer made OEMs less disposed to pre-install Navigator onto Windows 95. OEMs bear essentially all of the consumer support costs for the Windows PC systems they sell. These include the cost of handling consumer complaints and questions generated by Microsoft's software. Pre-installing more than one product in a given category, such as word processors or browsers, onto its PC systems can significantly increase an OEM's support costs, for the redundancy can lead to confusion among novice users. In addition, pre-installing a second product in a given software category can increase an OEM's product testing costs. Finally, many OEMs see pre-installing a second application in a given software category as a questionable use of the scarce and valuable space on a PC's hard drive.

160. Microsoft's executives believed that the incentives that its contractual restrictions placed on OEMs would not be sufficient in themselves to reverse the direction of Navigator's usage share. Consequently, in late 1995 or early 1996, Microsoft set out to bind Internet Explorer more tightly to Windows 95 as a technical matter. The intent was to make it more difficult for anyone, including systems administrators and users, to remove Internet Explorer from Windows 95 and to simultaneously complicate the experience of using Navigator with Windows 95. As Brad Chase wrote to his superiors near the end of 1995, "We will bind the shell to the Internet Explorer, so that running any other browser is a jolting experience."

161. Microsoft bound Internet Explorer to Windows 95 by placing code specific to Web browsing in the same files as code that provided operating system functions. Starting with the release of Internet Explorer 3.0 and "OEM Service Release 2.0" ("OSR 2") of Windows 95 in August 1996, Microsoft offered only a version of Windows 95 in which browsing-specific code shared files with code upon which non-browsing features of the operating system relied.

162. The software code necessary to supply the functionality of a modern application or operating system can be extremely long and complex. To make that complexity manageable, developers usually write long programs as a series of individual "routines," each ranging from a few dozen to a few hundred lines of code, that can be used to perform specific functions. Large programs are created by "knitting" together many such routines in layers, where the lower layers are used to provide fundamental functionality relied upon by higher, more focused layers. Some preliminary aspects of this "knitting" are performed by the software developer. The user who launches a program, however, is ultimately responsible for causing routines to be loaded into memory and executed together to produce the program's overall functionality.

163. Routines can be packaged together into files in almost any way the designer chooses. Routines need not reside in the same file to function together in a seamless fashion. Also, a developer can move routines into new or different files from one version of a program to another without changing the functionalities of those routines or the ability to combine them to provide integrated functionality.

164. Starting with Windows 95 OSR 2, Microsoft placed many of the routines that are used by Internet Explorer, including browsing-specific routines, into the same files that support the 32-bit Windows APIs. Microsoft's primary motivation for this action was to ensure that the deletion of any file containing browsing-specific routines would also delete vital operating system routines and thus cripple Windows 95. Although some of the code that provided Web browsing could still be removed, without disabling the operating system, by entering individual files and selectively deleting routines used only for Web browsing, licensees of Microsoft software were, and are, contractually prohibited from reverse engineering, decompiling, or disassembling any software files. Even if this were not so, it is prohibitively difficult for anyone who does not have access to the original, human-readable source code to change the placement of routines into files, or otherwise to alter the internal configuration of software files, while still preserving the software's overall functionality.

165. Although users were not able to remove all of the routines that provided Web browsing from OSR 2 and successive versions of Windows 95, Microsoft still provided them with the ability to uninstall Internet Explorer by using the "Add/Remove" panel, which was accessible from the Windows 95 desktop. The Add/Remove function did not delete all of the files that contain browsing specific code, nor did it remove browsing-specific code that is used by other programs. The Add/Remove function did, however, remove the functionalities that were provided to the user by Internet Explorer, including the means of launching the Web browser. Accordingly, from the user's perspective, uninstalling Internet Explorer in this way was equivalent to removing the Internet Explorer program from Windows 95.

166. In late 1996, senior executives within Microsoft, led by James Allchin, began to argue that Microsoft was not binding Internet Explorer tightly enough to Windows and as such was missing an opportunity to maximize the usage of Internet Explorer at Navigator's expense. Allchin first made his case to Paul Maritz in late December 1996. He wrote:

I don't understand how IE is 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% market share. Maybe being free helps us, but once people are used to a product it is hard to change them. Consider Office. We are 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 [means] losing our biggest advantage — Windows marketshare. We should dedicate a cross group team to come up with ways to leverage Windows technically more. . . . We should think about an integrated solution — that is our strength.

Allchin followed up with another message to Maritz on January 2, 1997:

You see browser share as job 1. . . . I do not feel we are going to win on our current path. We are not leveraging Windows from a marketing perspective and we are trying to copy Netscape and make IE into a platform. We do not use our strength — which is that we have an installed base of Windows and we have a strong OEM shipment channel for Windows. Pitting browser against browser is hard since Netscape has 80% marketshare and we have 20%. . . . I am convinced we have to use Windows — this is the one thing they don't have. . . . We have to be competitive with features, but we need something more — Windows integration.

If you agree that Windows is a huge asset, then it follows quickly that we are not investing sufficiently in finding ways to tie IE and Windows together. This must come from you. . . . Memphis [Microsoft's code-name for Windows 98] must be a simple upgrade, but most importantly it must be killer on OEM shipments so that Netscape never gets a chance on these systems.

167. Maritz responded to Allchin's second message by agreeing "that we have to make Windows integration our basic strategy" and that this justified delaying the release of Windows 98 until Internet Explorer 4.0 was ready to be included with that product. Maritz recognized that the delay would disappoint OEMs for two reasons. First, while OEMs were eager to sell new hardware technologies to Windows users, they could not do this until Microsoft released Windows 98, which included software support for the new technologies. Second, OEMs wanted Windows 98 to be released in time to drive sales of PC systems during the back-to-school and holiday selling seasons. Nevertheless, Maritz agreed with Allchin's point that synchronizing the release of Windows 98 with Internet Explorer was "the only thing that makes sense even if OEMs suffer."

168. Once Maritz had decided that Allchin was right, he needed to instruct the relevant Microsoft employees to delay the release of Windows 98 long enough so that it could be shipped with Internet Explorer 4.0 tightly bound to it. When one executive asked on January 7, 1997 for confirmation that "memphis is going to hold for IE4, even if it puts memphis out of the xmas oem window," Maritz responded affirmatively and explained,

The major reason for this is . . . to combat Nscp, we have to [ ] position the browser as "going away" and do deeper integration on Windows. The stronger way to communicate this is to have a ‘new release' of Windows and make a big deal out of it. . . . IE integration will be [the] most compelling feature of Memphis.

Thus, Microsoft delayed the debut of numerous features, including support for new hardware devices, that Microsoft believed consumers would find beneficial, simply in order to protect the applications barrier to entry. 169. Allchin and Maritz gained support for their initiative within Microsoft in the early spring of 1997, when a series of market studies confirmed that binding Internet Explorer tightly to Windows was the way to get consumers to use Internet Explorer instead of Navigator. Reporting on one study in late February, Microsoft's Christian Wildfeuer wrote:

The stunning insight is this: To make [users] switch away from Netscape, we need to make them upgrade to Memphis. . . . It seems clear to me that it will be very hard to increase browser market share on the merits of IE 4 alone. It will be more important to leverage the OS asset to make people use IE instead of Navigator.

Microsoft's survey expert, Kumar Mehta, agreed. In March he shared with a colleague his "feeling, based on all the IE research we have done, [that] it is a mistake to release memphis without bundling IE with it."

170. Microsoft's technical personnel implemented Allchin's "Windows integration" strategy in two ways. First, they did not provide users with the ability to uninstall Internet Explorer from Windows 98. The omission of a browser removal function was particularly conspicuous given that Windows 98 did give users the ability to uninstall numerous features other than Internet Explorer — features that Microsoft also held out as being integrated into Windows 98. Microsoft took this action despite specific requests from Gateway that Microsoft provide a way to uninstall Internet Explorer 4.0 from Windows 98.

171. The second way in which Microsoft's engineers implemented Allchin's strategy was to make Windows 98 override the user's choice of default browser in certain circumstances. As shipped to users, Windows 98 has Internet Explorer configured as the default browser. While Windows 98 does provide the user with the ability to choose a different default browser, it does not treat this choice as the "default browser" within the ordinary meaning of the term. Specifically, when a user chooses a browser other than Internet Explorer as the default, Windows 98 nevertheless requires the user to employ Internet Explorer in numerous situations that, from the user's perspective, are entirely unexpected. As a consequence, users who choose a browser other than Internet Explorer as their default face considerable uncertainty and confusion in the ordinary course of using Windows 98.

172. Microsoft's refusal to respect the user's choice of default browser fulfilled Brad Chase's 1995 promise to make the use of any browser other than Internet Explorer on Windows "a jolting experience." By increasing the likelihood that using Navigator on Windows 98 would have unpleasant consequences for users, Microsoft further diminished the inclination of OEMs to pre-install Navigator onto Windows. The decision to override the user's selection of non- Microsoft software as the default browser also directly disinclined Windows 98 consumers to use Navigator as their default browser, and it harmed those Windows 98 consumers who nevertheless used Navigator. In particular, Microsoft exposed those using Navigator on Windows 98 to security and privacy risks that are specific to Internet Explorer and to ActiveX controls.

173. Microsoft's actions have inflicted collateral harm on consumers who have no interest in using a Web browser at all. If these consumers want the non-browsing features available only in Windows 98, they must content themselves with an operating system that runs more slowly than if Microsoft had not interspersed browsing-specific routines throughout various files containing routines relied upon by the operating system. More generally, Microsoft has forced Windows 98 users uninterested in browsing to carry software that, while providing them with no benefits, brings with it all the costs associated with carrying additional software on a system. These include performance degradation, increased risk of incompatibilities, and the introduction of bugs. Corporate consumers who need the hardware support and other non- browsing features not available in earlier versions of Windows, but who do not want Web browsing at all, are further burdened in that they are denied a simple and effective means of preventing employees from attempting to browse the Web.

174. Microsoft has harmed even those consumers who desire to use Internet Explorer, and no other browser, with Windows 98. To the extent that browsing-specific routines have been commingled with operating system routines to a greater degree than is necessary to provide any consumer benefit, Microsoft has unjustifiably jeopardized the stability and security of the operating system. Specifically, it has increased the likelihood that a browser crash will cause the entire system to crash and made it easier for malicious viruses that penetrate the system viaInternet Explorer to infect non-browsing parts of the system.

iii. Lack of Justification

175. No technical reason can explain Microsoft's refusal to license Windows 95 without Internet Explorer 1.0 and 2.0. The version of Internet Explorer (1.0) that Microsoft included with the original OEM version of Windows 95 was a separable, executable program file supplied on a separate disk. Web browsing thus could be installed or removed without affecting the rest of Windows 95's functionality in any way. The same was true of Internet Explorer 2.0. Microsoft, moreover, created an easy way to remove Internet Explorer 1.0 and 2.0 from Windows 95 after they had been installed, via the "Add/Remove" panel. This demonstrates the absence of any technical reason for Microsoft's refusal to supply Windows 95 without Internet Explorer 1.0 and 2.0.

176. Similarly, there is no technical justification for Microsoft's refusal to license Windows 95 to OEMs with Internet Explorer 3.0 or 4.0 uninstalled, or for its refusal to permit OEMs to uninstall Internet Explorer 3.0 or 4.0. Microsoft's decision to provide users with an "uninstall" procedure for Internet Explorer 3.0 and 4.0 and its decision to promote Internet Explorer on the basis of that feature demonstrate that there was no technical or quality-related reason for refusing to permit OEMs to use this same feature. Microsoft would not have permitted users to uninstall Internet Explorer, nor would consumers have demanded such an option, if the process would have fragmented or degraded the other functionality of the operating system.

177. As with Windows 95, there is no technical justification for Microsoft's refusal to meet consumer demand for a browserless version of Windows 98. Microsoft could easily supply a version of Windows 98 that does not provide the ability to browse the Web, and to which users could add the browser of their choice. Indicative of this is the fact that it remains possible to remove Web browsing functionality from Windows 98 without adversely affecting non-Web browsing features of Windows 98 or the functionality of applications running on the operating system. In fact, the revised version of Professor Felten's prototype removal program produces precisely this result when run on a computer with Windows 98 installed.


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