Jesse Berst, Editorial Director
Wednesday, January 29, 1997
Once again, Microsoft faces allegations it leaked advance information about
its operating systems to one of its own divisions. As before, critics claim
Microsoft used this information to give its own products an unfair
advantage. In other words, it did not make the same info available to
competitors. Rivals have long complained that, as the holder of a virtual
monopoly in operating systems, it's Microsoft's duty to provide a level
playing field. So far the courts and the Justice Department have disagreed.
The case at hand has been the subject of some interesting Usenet
discussions. According to my rumor source, these groups discovered
Microsoft secretly incorporated four extensions to the current Winsock 1.1
implementation. (Winsock is a standard programming interface that gives
access to network protocols, most notably TCP/IP, the foundation protocol
of the Internet.) The extensions are part of the future Winsock 2
definition that will be put into Windows at some future date. Netscape and
other companies complain they can't write to future specs because they
don't know for sure which ones will be implemented in the next version.
Most of them write their applications to run with a wide range of operating
systems and, therefore, use the base Winsock 1.1 definition right now.
I have no idea if these allegations are accurate. (The spec itself is
already published, so I suspect Microsoft isn't as evil as my informant
implies. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.) But I pass this
rumor along so you can know what Silicon Valley insiders are saying to each
other. I learned of it via a copy of some correspondence between Netscape
and one of its suppliers. The two companies were trying to figure out why
their server applications were several times slower than those from
Microsoft. They eventually traced the problem to Microsoft's "secret
You heard it here Berst.