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  5 years ago...Microsoft could be forced to unbundle Explorer
Time: 09:50 EST/14:50 GMT | News Source: Silicon | Posted By: Brian Kvalheim

Five years later and this still hasn't been fully resolved...

10.11.99: Microsoft may be forced to unbundle its Internet Explorer browser from the Windows operating system, according to a former US Department of Justice (DoJ) lawyer. Robert Hauberg, former US DoJ lawyer and partner at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, claimed that given the strength of Judge Jackson's support for the government's case, an enforced unbundling is very likely. "Certainly unbundling would be one in a whole laundry list of options that the Judge has," he said. "I would think that in light of the testimony at trial, he would seriously consider doing that at a minimum even without having the divestiture option fully imposed," Hauberg said.

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#1 By 8556 (12.217.173.227) at 11/10/2004 12:09:36 PM
At this point in time unbundling IE could be an effective way to improve Windows security if done thoughtfully. Microsoft should "get 'er done" whether forced to or not.

#2 By 2332 (66.228.91.60) at 11/10/2004 12:22:27 PM
#1 - Why do you think it would improve windows security?

If you think it would improve security by making it more likely that novice users will use a browser other than IE, then I agree. (Although I really doubt it would be particularly effective.)

If you think it would improve security some other way, please explain.

#3 By 7797 (63.76.44.6) at 11/10/2004 12:37:53 PM
A web browser is used to interact directly with a hostile internet. Is it not true therefore that if the browser is an integral part of the OS by definition the OS is directly exposed to the hostile internet. Because the browser is part of the OS, any flaw in the browser is therefore also a flaw of the OS. Whereas if the browser is an application that sits atop the OS, the OS is NOT exposed directly to the hostile internet and therefore this scenario is inherently more secure simply by design. If this oversimplified description is inaccurate i'd love to hear where I'm wrong.

#4 By 61 (65.32.168.114) at 11/10/2004 12:47:40 PM
tgnb: ummmm... no. It doesn't matter if an application is integrated with the OS or not. If it has a security flaw, then if it is installed at all, and you are using it, then it will produce the same effects if said flaw is taken advantage of.

If Mozilla were to have a say, a buffer overflow issue (I use it as an example as it's not part of the OSP) you can still get full access to the OS through the issue as you could through IE (which is integrated into the OS).

#5 By 415 (199.8.64.200) at 11/10/2004 1:50:49 PM
This issue is so tired and worn out. Microsoft is not going to remove IE from Windows. Get over it...

#6 By 7797 (63.76.44.6) at 11/10/2004 2:23:20 PM
CPUGuy: Ok. I was going by a FAQ entry i had read as well as an interview with Ben Goodger. After your explanation i went to the firefox IRC chan and asked this very difficult question. After speaking with several people there I'm no longer convinced that Firefox is more secure by design simply by being integrated into the OS as i wasn't offered any good enough answers to validate that claim.

Having said that, one thing they did say which i agree with is that Firefox as well as Mozilla was designed from the ground up not only with security in mind but also favoring security over usability when such a decision had to be made.
Microsoft until recently designed their products with ease of use in mind and security as an afterthought. Its true that many issues are adressed in XP SP2 .. where Microsoft has dramatically departed from favoring ease of use for the first time. However IE was not built as was Firefox with security in mind from the ground up.

Based on this alone, I still believe that Firefox is more likely to proove itself to be a more secure browser at some point in time when we can make that determination. Right now we can only guess. Only time will tell.

I would like to add that as of now Firefox is just released and gets a fresh start. Surely its unfair to count all the security issues with Firefox that were discovered and fixed before the Final product was shipped. Secunia and others have no way of tracking such vulnerabilities for Closed Source browsers such as IE or Opera.

This post was edited by tgnb on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 at 14:27.

#7 By 2332 (66.228.91.60) at 11/10/2004 2:27:04 PM
CPUGuy is correct. IE being "integrated" with the OS makes it no more vulnerable or dangerous to use than if it were not "integrated".

All that matters is who is running it. If an admin is running an unmanaged (not .NET, not Java, etc.) application, it has the capabilities of an admin. Period. If somebody manages to make that application do something bad (buffer overflow, etc) they then have admin access. Simple as that.

The fact that Windows happens to use ShDocVw.dll from within Explorer.exe makes absolutely no difference.

#8 By 2332 (66.228.91.60) at 11/11/2004 3:44:41 PM
#8 - In 5 years the idea of a "web browser" will be somewhat of a quaint memory.

Why? Because Microsoft will be dramatically channging the landscape of personal computing with the release of Longhorn. We'll all be moving back, to some degree, to the wonderful world of the rich client application.

#9 By 7797 (68.142.9.161) at 11/12/2004 1:12:58 AM
You are full of it Parkker and you know it!

#10 By 3653 (68.52.181.4) at 11/12/2004 5:37:44 AM
Unbundling IE from the OS... another taxpayer-funded PoS witch hunt. Thanks Clinton.

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