Christopher Pratt (cpratt) wrote,
Christopher Pratt

Transparency, Transparency, Transparency

I was very pleased to see this today:

Microsoft’s Response to the European Commission

Frankly, I'm tired of reading news stories about the ongoing desastre in Brussels; they only ever seem to be based on rumors and spin provided by Microsoft's competitors. Why not go straight to the source? It's about time Microsoft started lifting the kimono a little bit - reading that the European Commission thinks Microsoft's documentation sucks isn't nearly as interesting as reading about exactly what the EC thinks sucks.

Here's a fine example:

The Technical Documentation uses the software engineering term “context handle,” but the Trustee states that he has “no idea what a ‘context handle’ might be” and even says, “I have no way of knowing.”


An “RPC context handle” is a standard, well-known programming construct. Moreover, the Trustee had many other “way[s] of knowing” what a context handle is; for example, when Professor Finkelstein checked Google, the very first hit for “context handle” provided the relevant definition. If the Trustee had “no idea what a ‘context handle’ might be,” it is not because he had “no way of knowing,” as he stated, but because he made no effort to find out.
Speaking personally here - and I'm someone who's worked in this industry for twelve years at this point - it strikes me that the EC is being faintly ridiculous. Complaining that documentation of server protocols uses phrases like "context handle" and is therefore totally incomprehensible is like complaining that The Joy Of Cooking uses words like "flour" without defining them.

If you've got some time to kill, it's a fascinating read. More than anything, though, I remain disappointed that Microsoft got itself into the position in the first place by being arrogant bastards for so long; if only they'd loosened up before blowing all the whuffie [so to speak] and been more generous with their IP I'd think they'd have fewer problems like this on their hands. At last they're making progress in this area - and I'm not just saying that because they pay me ten hours' salary a week.

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