Funny Leaked Comments (or Why Favoritism Stinks)

There’s a rather funny look at some comments from the leaked Windows source code over at K5. It’s good to see that our friends in Redmond are just average code monkeys like the rest of us.

So as not to let this post go completely without controversy, check out the section titled “Favoritism.” The author talks about several parts of the code where explicit mention is made to code in the operating system specifically designed to work with certain products. Apparantly, and not unsurprisingly, most such cases are targeted at Microsoft’s own products. Stuff like this makes me sit up and take notice:

// These undocumented messages are used by Excel 5.0

Microsoft has a monopoly, and as such, their operating system has become something of a public utility to the rest of the programming world. Favoritism in a utility is not a good thing. It hurts the customers, by hurting competitors, by allowing Microsoft to create features that the competitors cannot. Imagine if Acme Sewage Disposal Company, who own all of the sewer pipes in your town, also made toilets. And Acme’s sewers were designed to give prererence to the waste coming from Acme’s toilets. People will begin to buy Acme toilets because their crap goes down the drain faster. And as more people buy Acme toilets, customers of JooJoo Toilet Manufacturing, Inc. will start to drown in thier own shit. Now, Acme’s toilets are really no better than JooJoo’s toilets; but Acme is able to corner the toilet market simply because they have a monopoly in another market.

Now we all know that a monopoly is a good idea for the business who has it, and every business out there seeks to gain one. That fact is what makes a free market work. It’s called competition. If a company can achieve a monopoly fairly, more power to them. Under ordinary circumstances, requiring a private for-profit organization to act in the “public good” leads to both the destruction of that company and cardiac arrest for Ms. Ayn Rand. The difference in this case is that it is an illegally garned monopoly. Microsoft broke the rules to obtain their sewers, so they shouldn’t be allowed to capitalize on that tainted investment.

The anti-trust trial against Microsoft failed to prevent this favoritism from occuring in the future, and thus failed in its mission of restoring true competition to the market. At minimum, an artifical wall needs to be created between Microsoft’s OS division and Microsoft’s Everything Else division. Unfortunately, in the real world, that wouldn’t work. Microsoft needs to be split into two seperate companies along those same lines. Only then can we ensure that our shit all flows through the Windows pipes at the same speed.