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Caldera to MS: Fork over the code

Caldera executives claim Microsoft failed to hand over all of the source code required by the judge presiding over the suit it filed against the software giant.

Caldera executives claim that Microsoft has failed to hand over all of the DOS and Windows source code required by the judge presiding over the antitrust suit it filed against the software giant, and the company now plans to ask the court to force Microsoft to hand over the rest of it.

Last month, a federal magistrate ordered Microsoft to turn over its Windows 95 source code--without requiring Caldera to sign a licensing agreement. Microsoft was ordered to supply only the MS-DOS code that Caldera alleges is tied to Windows 95, and to do so within five days.

But the Redmond, Washington-based company didn't deliver all of the code, according to Caldera CEO Bryan Sparks. "They said they couldn't find all of the Windows 95 and DOS source code we requested," he said. "The part they did give us, they provided in five days."

Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan said the additional code is on the way. "Back in July, they asked for specific code from Windows 95. We provided some five days after the judge requested it," he said. "It was a narrow amount [of code that was requested]. It's also old code. I know our programmers are still trying to locate some more. I'm not sure what the status is on that."

Sparks said that he plans to meet with Caldera's legal team Monday to discuss filing a formal complaint that would compel Microsoft to provide all of the Windows and DOS code originally requested.

Caldera alleges that Microsoft illegally tied MS-DOS software to Windows and engaged in other anticompetitive practices intended to quash DR-DOS, a competing operating system that Caldera acquired from Novell. Microsoft has denied the charges.

Sparks, for his part, has asserted that access to the complete code should benefit Caldera's case, but that it will not benefit the company's operations, because Caldera engineers will not be permitted to view it.

Caldera's assertions come on the heels of reports of an internal Microsoft email distributed in 1991 that highlights discussions within the company about installing special code in earlier versions of Microsoft Windows in an effort to disrupt programs built by the software giant's competitors.

"It's interesting," Sparks said about the reports, which first appeared in today's Wall Street Journal. In them, Microsoft lawyers argued that, just because something is written in an email it does not mean it is company policy. "But if [the ideas discussed in the email] make it into a product, they certainly mean something," added Sparks, who would not comment specifically on the email itself, or about whether his company has a copy of it.

Cullinan said he thinks the email issue is a case that was shut long ago. "It's unfortunate that they are bringing it all up again," he said. "The DOJ looked at that seven years ago and found that it was completely groundless. We provided millions of pages of email and other documents to investigators. It's a shame that this can be taken so out of context."

While Cullinan did confirm the contents of the email, he said it does not mean the discussion, which was limited to a few programmers, ever was taken any further.

"Microsoft has never tried to crash," competing software, he said.

Sparks said that his company has been approached by federal trustbusters involved in the Justice Department's case against Microsoft. "We are not actively participating in the case, but some of our information will most likely make it into the case."