Blue Mountain Arts
Tuesday, February 23, 1999 by Dave Winer.
Yesterday I got a phone call from David Shinpaugh, a developer at Broadband Mechanics, a web development company that we're partnering with. Shinpaugh's main computer crashed on Monday morning, and in putting it back together he needed to download a new copy of Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0b2/Win.
So, when he went to http://www.microsoft.com/ie/ he found, surprisingly, that there was no link to download the public beta of 5.0, which I had downloaded myself just a few days eariler after a fiasco installing a new version of Netscape Communicator, but that's another story.
I checked it out myself, and there was reference to the upcoming final 5.0 release, in mid-March, but no way to download the beta! Wow. I figured there must be an interesting story behind this, so I asked David to post a message on our discussion group, knowing that a fair number of Microsoft people read our site, hoping that we could get to the bottom of the problem.
This morning we got to the bottom of it, it involves a small company Blue Mountain Arts, who sued Microsoft, and got a restraining order and that's why our development project is in trouble!
Here's an email from Will Friedman explaining what's going on.
There were several issues discussed in the thread you linked to.
The first question is, where is the IE 5 beta?
I'm afraid the answer to this question isn't the one I'd like to give. The short answer is that there is no way for developers to get IE 5 until our release on March 18th. However, this has nothing to do with the web distribution mechanism - we can't provide new CD's of IE 5 beta either.
The reason for this is that we are complying with a preliminary injunction in the Blue Mountain Arts lawsuit, which requires us not to distribute Outlook Express.
Outlook Express in the IE 5 Beta contains a junk mail blocking feature. Because this feature is based on a software algorithm which attempts to determine what is junk mail and what isn't, sometimes it inadvertently deletes content that is not junk mail. Blue Mountain Arts mistakenly believes that this optional junk mail filter (which is off by default) has been engineered to target them in particular.
We have been issued a preliminary injunction which requires us to not distribute the junk mail feature, which is in the Outlook Express Beta. Because the Outlook Express beta is part of the IE 5 Beta, we have had to pull the IE 5 beta from our site to comply with this order. The final release of IE 5 will not contain the junk mail filter feature (which I personally think is a shame for end-users.)
It's not feasible for us to build a new version of the IE beta without the OE beta at this point, since we are so close to shipping and our developers are focused on getting IE wrapped up to meet our announced ship date. I'm sure you are familiar with the measured frenzy that precedes any commercial software release.
Therefore, unfortunately, there is no way to get the beta at this time, and that's why it's gone from the site. Please let me know if you have any questions about this and I will do my best to answer them.
Will Friedman, Technical Evangelist, Internet Explorer
Microsoft's developer program takes a hit. Score one for Blue Mountain Arts and their attorney, who are some of the biggest guns in Silicon Valley.
And a lot of random developers are going to go on vacation until March 18, unless something changes.
Hey, if you know Gary Reback at Wilson Sonsini Godrich & Rosati, please forward this to him. Gary, who I met briefly at an Upside party in the Cole Mansion in Belmont a couple of years ago, please can you ease up on Microsoft for just three weeks, and let them distribute the betas?
Can we work out a win-win here? We're just a little company that got caught in your long-term fight with Microsoft. I bet there are hundreds of other developers who will be hurt by this unfortunate situation.