back to article Microsoft discloses 14,000 pages of coding secrets

Microsoft today lifted the lid on 14,000 pages of sketchy versions of tech documentation for core software code. On show for the first time in public are underlying protocols for Office 2007, Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2007. This is Microsoft's latest effort to satisfy anti-trust concerns of the European …


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  1. Robert Moore

    Don't look

    For the love of The Great Spaghetti Monster don't look at it.

    That way lies madness.

  2. Martin Owens

    Belive it

    When I see balmer fired.

  3. Herby

    Just remember where "hungarian notation" came from!

    You might call THAT a coding secret, which may explain why Vista works "so well"

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Same old story

    Just replace the year and product-names, and these promises are copies of MS' interoperability promises at the height of the wars against DRDOS and NetWare in the early 90s. Documentation appear promising at first, but eventually turns out to be so riddled with inconsistencies that it is useless for 3rd party developers. Now MS is fighting open-source. Does that make them any more trustworthy. I have learn my lesson and choose not to believe a word of it until I can lay my hands on efficient working 3rd-party products.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    It's a trap!

    For god's sake, man, don't eat those, they'll kill you!

    (apologies to B. Kliban)

  6. One Van
    Gates Horns

    M$ just got some principle

    "Microsoft Corp. today took another step toward fulfilling its interoperability principle of ensuring open connections to its high-volume products and driving greater interoperability, opportunity and choice across the IT community of developers, partners, customers and competitors."

    Apparently M$ is "fulf-illing its principle" in producing such documentation. Then why did the EU slap them with a fine of nearly $500m. Did that help them find some 'principle'!

    Let's bust up M$ for the benefit of the whole IT business, for innovation, and to be able to use something that works better more of the time.

  7. Scott Dunn

    It's probably covered

    By that wonderful MS OSP not to sue for non-commercial implementations of their protocols. Fun.

    It's going to get really fun when the US Supreme Court looks at software patents later this year. The word is out that the Supes are really unhappy with the Federal District Court's abuse of software patents. The Supreme Court may finally rule that you can always use math, even in software.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    The history of MS

    documentation of it's APIs is not good it's almost as if the person writing them didn't know the truth and sort of made things up. I was on the MinGW mailing list a long time and if I had a buck for every MSDN mistake and outright fiction people aired there I would be as rich as Bill. We'll see I guess no harm in ignoring it.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    I looked

    oooh my eyes!!

  10. Richard

    Its not trade secrets they are protecting

    Its the embarrassment caused by the world having confirmed how badly designed MS products really are.

  11. Nathan


    I don't quite see how Opera can claim that, when if Windows wasn't bagged with IE, how would its users download Opera? Please, name an O/S that doesn't come with a basic browser.

  12. Chris

    Sure pal, we'll tell you how it works...

    ...but then we'll have to kill ya.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Moan, Whinge, Whine

    We want documentation, we want documentaion, we want documentation.

    Documents start appearing.

    Shit, need to find something else to whine about...


    We want documentation, but not that stuff errr some other stuff. We want documentation, but not that stuff errr some other stuff. We want documentation, but not that stuff errr some other stuff.

    Is it me or is the Reg comments turning into a bunch of whinginers, who even if they get what they want, still want more and they want it now?

  14. Mike Somers

    Prob on my own on this one

    I personally think the EU should keep there over-paid worthless noses out of things. Thought this as the time - fining M$ just because Opera moaned that people don't use their browser if a joke. Plus I don't like the EU anyway

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Re: Same old story

    "Documentation appear promising at first, but eventually turns out to be so riddled with inconsistencies that it is useless for 3rd party developers"

    I think you'll find that it is the same documentation that mickeysoft employees use, hence all mickeysoft products are "riddled with inconsistencies"

    Bloated too

    I wander what PH is riddled with?

  16. Andy Jones

    RE: Anti-Competitiveness?

    @ Nathan

    Believe it or not there are other ways of obtaining a browser without using the internet. For years AOL or Netscape used to deliver browsers via CD. That is one way. Also you could use FTP as there are usually basic installations on all operating systems.

  17. Les Matthew


    "I don't quite see how Opera can claim that, when if Windows wasn't bagged with IE, how would its users download Opera? Please, name an O/S that doesn't come with a basic browser."

    Yep, nobody could download before browsers arrived on the scene.

  18. Liam


    BUT why the hell shouldnt they bundle a browser with the OS?

    im guessing most linux distros come with firefox and apple comes with safari - im not seeing apple being sued am i?

    we dont want to go back to the day of having 20 cds of shit to install to get a pc working - most people are happy with IE. Opera has always been shite - slower and unreliable - and hard to browser sniff cos for years it pretended to be another browser.

    this is more anti-m$ bullshit. its not like linux is super stable/secure and apple is bug free either is it (mostly overpriced shit from apple)! why should MS have to bend over backwards to help their competitors? if i buy a car i dont have to go to another dealer to buy the steering wheel because 'its anti-competitive to supply the steering wheel cos another company sells them'

  19. Tom Kelsall

    Let's hope that it's... least at a standard which enables people to look at Microsoft's code and say

    "MWAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!!! They made WHAT branch?! On WHAT conditions?!?!?! HAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!", and actually write some code which gives a shit about efficiency of resource use and speed?

  20. Sebastian Brosig

    @andy jones

    last time i checked ftp works via "the internet"

  21. Anonymous Coward


    Your views of Opera reveal you to be an ignorant halfwit. It's always been faster and more stable than IE or Firefox. Always. The only reason it needed to masquerade as something else was ignorant halfwits writing websites that looked for a browser agents and bounced you out if it wasnt IE or Netscape. Easier to lie and be able to access those sites than not be able to access them at all.

    It's also more feature complete, which is why the firefox guys are always saying "oh check out this new plugin" and regular Opera users raise an eyebrow as they start jumping up and down and drooling over features that have been standard in Opera for the last five years.

    As a regular user of all major browsers, I use Opera when I have a choice.

  22. Anonymous Coward


    Browser? What's one of those? I just fire up terminal, type 'yum' and start consulting the 400-page manual...

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Andy Jones

    Ye, because your avrage user wants to mess about with FTPing stuff, or spending £10 on a CD for a browser. Surely if they are sent out free in the post it will be no better than giving it away with the PC.

    Personaly I think, now anyway, a browser is a fundamental part of a PCs software. If not Im going to go and write a program to bring up animations whenever I leave my computor for more than a user set time, and then take all and sundry to court for bundeling screen savers.

    Also, yes, the documentationprobably is rubbish, but is what MS use.

  24. Matt Martin

    Re: Just remember where "hungarian notation" came from!

    Errrrr, Hungary?

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Oh, shut up about Opera.

    That's a side issue to this article.

    But regardless, Opera's complaint wasn't that they bundle a browser with their OS, but that they bundle a rubbish browser that has broken the web by completely ignoring standards, resulting in many pages not being viewable on non-Windows machines, in a clear attempt to force people to buy Windows machines. This not only stifles take-up of non-MS PCs, but stunts the growth of non-PC (ie mobile and set-top) web browsing.

    Which is a valid complaint.

    But not the point of the article.

  26. Mark


    If bundling a browser is so evidently a good thing, why did MS remove IE for Mac because (in their words) they could not compete with a browser built in to the operating system?

    PS I thought people were still saying that MS didn't HAVE any secret API, it was all down in the MSDN subscription pages for all to see? Are we going to have this bleated out each and every time then ignored when evidence is shown that they were wrong?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    @Stu Reeves

    Good point well made.

    Some days I suspect that DNS has been hijacked and my requests to are being redirected to

  28. KarlTh


    Last time there was an actual leak of code from MS it was found that the coding itself was mostly of high quality. The reasons for the problems were there in the comments, IIRC - various sometimes quite acerbic and even obscene comments from the programmers about the kludges and hairy workarounds they had to use to get round MS' usual issues - backward compatibility and ease of use, mostly. How many people have got into issues with Vista because they're trying to run some ten-year old app written for NT4?

    it's bloated and inefficient not because it's badly coded, but because MS' Men In Suits insist on it doing silly things.

  29. Richard Kay

    Don't the EU judges have a say in this ?

    "Between now and June it will garner feedback from the developer community. Then, at the end of June, Microsoft will publish the final versions of technical documentation – along with definitive patent licensing terms.

    The definitions will be crucial to third parties who want to play with Microsoft code. We shall find out soon enough if Redmond will let them play ball."

    Funny the assumption that it is always Microsoft that gets to decide what to divulge and on which terms. I'd always thought this was something to do with the European Court. Silly me.

    My coat is the one with the penguin on the back.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Warning: do NOT read

    What do you think will happen if you code something really cool after reading that code? Yup - new, surprise move: MS will claim it's based on their code. That's the same reason I advised everyone working with FOSS to stay well away from the leaked Windows code as well.

    Remember who you're dealing with here. Paranoia should be a default attitude..

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Vista Source Code

    I hope everyone has seen this, it is very revealing.... Hats off to the orginal poster!

  32. Peter Kay

    Opera faster and more stable? No, thanks.

    Faster, except when running through certain proxies that every other web browser has no issues with. Then there's the incompatibility with certain websites, and the horrid interface.

    I'm sure it's improved of late, but a couple of years back it was utterly unusable on some networks that Firefox and IE handled efficiently.

  33. Sean Purdy


    Nice troll

  34. Mark

    Re: Anti-Competitiveness?

    Linux comes without a browser in the OS.

    It has several as an application, however. And none of them are needed for operation of the OS.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Terminal? What's one of those? I just fire up front panel, toggle the switches, and watch the sequence of flashing lights. Amazing how fast you can get - just make sure you keep it below 420 characters a minute...

  36. Liam

    @ the coward

    love people on here with big mouths that hide behind anonymous :)

    "Your views of Opera reveal you to be an ignorant halfwit. It's always been faster and more stable than IE or Firefox. Always. The only reason it needed to masquerade as something else was ignorant halfwits writing websites that looked for a browser agents and bounced you out if it wasnt IE or Netscape. Easier to lie and be able to access those sites than not be able to access them at all."

    WE needed browser agents to sniff for certain browsers as they all performed differently. IF opera had bothered with a browser agent we could have gotten hold of that - BUT it used IEs! SO we couldnt cater fro opera very well. i assume its all ok now but with firefox and IE 7 (which isnt too bad now) why the hell do we need another one? its just making web devs lives harder.

  37. Mark

    Re: Terminal

    Your brain is on terminal support...

    You open up a terminal and type in at whatever rate you can manage (maybe 600cps for a good typist) the command to download a browser. That command is only a few score characters long at worst. The data comes back at whatever rate you want, it DOES NOT come back to the screen as a bunch of ASCII: you've watched too much Matrix...

  38. RW

    TCP/IP specification. . .

    How many pages does the specification of TCP/IP take?

    Maybe I'm just an ignorant innocent, but a 14,000 page specification strongly suggests that the documented protocols are not *designed* but, rather, have been allowed to evolve autonomously as feature after feature was glued on to them.

    Just like Windows.

  39. Homard
    Dead Vulture

    Visual basic

    I heard the windo$e kernel is written in vb. On a serious note I actually recon it's very badly written in BASICA (go back a bit).

    Now, I use both Opera and Firefox, on occasion Konqueror and lastly when forced various flavours of IE, *NONE* of which I like. But at least I can remove any browser other than IE without breaking my system. Unless I use a non micro$oft OS, in which case I can do as I please.

    I despise micro$oft, and their substandard products. However, micro$oft is a business, and as such will try to maximise profitability, and eliminate competition; these are both key tenets. Arguably, it's activities are entirely natural, though I hate to concede the point.

    What is a problem is that micro$oft has grown too big, and has too much market share. This is bad news because :-

    1) too many people only know micro$oft, and are very resistant to change !

    2) very few people know of and experience alternatives.

    3) if you do innovate, and micro$oft owns a patent that covers the basic idea, but not the technical capability to make that idea practical (i.e. you are an Engineer), you will find yourself at the receiving end of a lawsuit, with HUGE financial backing - remember the core tenet of removing competition ?

    4) points 1, 2 & 3 ensure innovation is stifled (more strangled to death).

    Consequently, I would go so far as to say that micro$oft is holding the human race back in terms of technical development.

    Solution ? : break it up, so the benefits it *DOES* bring (and there are a few) are still there for mankind to use, but the stifling effect of the monopoly is broken.

    The EU has no powers to do this, but it can issue fines, and demand interoperability. At least the EU is fighting to break the monopoly and restart the innovation process. I consider this laudable in the face of pathetic us antitrust outcomes. I say WELL DONE EU !

    My 20 pence worth on this.

  40. yeah, right.

    That much?

    14000 pages to describe a set of API's??? No bloody wonder their software is so shoddy, with bloated, poorly documented and fundamentally flawed APIs like that. Or are these just the APIs they are publishing, and they're keeping the ones that actually work in a closet somewhere?

    I'm also one of those glad that it's the EU government doing what the American government should have done 10 years ago. Better late than never to find someone with balls that is willing to put the consumer, taxpayer and voter first.

  41. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Hungarian notation

    Like other MS inventions, Hungarian notation started life in Xerox. It was used in BCPL, which has one data type. An extra clue about what a variable is for was useful in BCPL. HN was supposed to give information about a variable's purpose. MS missed the point. Now people think that HN means encoding the data type of a variable in the name. This just repeats the work done by the compiler and adds extra confusion when the encoding gets out of step with the data type.

    In some situations, HN done properly can make C source code clearer. If the prefix of a variable and a function name do not match, you may have found a bug.

    Fining MS until they produce documentation is not going to achieve anything.

    IE was never free. People are forced to pay for it as a part of the purchase of a new computer. The only sensible way to allow competition is to forbid the sale of MS software with a computer. By all means, install a deactivated copy of Vista for free, and let people who want Vista pay a separate activation fee.

  42. Mark Rendle
    Dead Vulture

    Why can't I just stop reading these comments?

    Every time there's a vaguely Microsoft-related story on Reg Developer, the same bunch of wankers come out moaning about it, even when the story is about Microsoft mending the ways that the wankers have been bleating about.

    Every time there's an OS story on The Register, the same bunch of wankers rag on Vista.

    Every time there's any kind of story on Reg Hardware, the same bunch of wankers rag on Vista.

    Heads up, wankers: ALL MULTI-NATIONAL CORPORATIONS ARE THE SAME. It's just that some are better at it than others. Get over it. Move on.

  43. Smoovious

    It isn't the fact that it comes with a browser... .. .

    It is the fact that they made it so it can't be removed as a move to thwart the courts.

    Even now there is no good reason why IE has to be integrated with the underlying OS the way that it is. It is, so even if you did use another browser, you still couldn't remove IE, and there are some things that will launch IE and only IE no matter what you have your default browser set to.

    Also, no reason why Windows Update has to be IE-based. Would probably even run a lot faster if it didn't use the browser to do its job.

    Oh yeah... and I used to use Mosaic at the time... and they bought Mosaic out, and stripped out all of the features I liked to have, and turned it into IE... and those features have never, EVER, come back.

    -- Smoovious

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