As far as the French government is concerned, I am the expert on Windows XP

For complex legal reasons I don't understand, Microsoft had to submit to the French government a declaration of originality for Windows XP in order to pursue a software piracy case. It is my understanding that the legal department has already designated someone to take on this role for every release of Windows, but this case arose over a decade after Windows XP was released, so they had to dig back into their archives to find somebody who worked substantially on Windows XP and was still with the company. And that's how they found me. So my name is the one listed as the expert on Windows XP.

Although Windows XP is the collective effort of tens of thousands of people, it's not practical to put tens of thousands of names in a list of authors, much less get tens of thousands of notarized signatures. Instead three developers are nominated to represent the entire team. I don't know how they got chosen, but for legal purposes, those three developers are the authors of Windows XP.

Bonus chatter: One of my colleagues was interviewed by the school newspaper of the college from which he graduated. The topic was what it's like working on a large, complex piece of software. The story ended up headlined, "Bob Smith, Author of Windows 2000."

Comments (33)
  1. xcomcmdr says:

    As a French person, I’m weirdly honored/excited to see this entry. Hehe. :)

    Also, maybe they saw this blog, which has several entries concerning Windows XP, and figured you were THE expert. ;-)

    1. Joshua says:

      Indeed. He might as well be the expert.

  2. pc says:

    My rough understanding of patents in the US is that they are somewhat similar, where an “invention” is expected to be created by a very small number of people, who are specifically named, even if they were working for a company and the company thereby “owns” the patent.

    1. Brian says:

      Patents have a small list of “Inventors”. If the inventors were working for a company at the time of the invention, their rights are generally assigned to the company as an “Assignee”. The Assignee gets any money and gets to sue for infringement, etc. The inventors generally get a nice plaque for their walls.

      The patent is usually *much* smaller in scope than a release of Windows. It covers a small list of “claims” (the novelty for what the patent is being filed). The list of inventors generally includes the principal contributors to the invention.

  3. Peter Doubleday says:

    Does that mean we can sue you? (He he.)

    Seriously, the least you should get out of this is a T-shirt.

    1. French Guy says:

      We French don’t sue as easily as Americans.

  4. Pierre B. says:

    And all this time I was so sure Bill Gates was the author of Windows XP.

    1. Kirby FC says:

      No, Bill Gates was the author of MS-DOS.

  5. Stefan Kanthak says:

    Question to the author of XP: why does the german edition of XP display the message box “NtCreateFile-API ist fehlgeschlagen. Dieser Fehler sollte keiner Anwendung zurückgegeben werden, da er ein Platzhalter für den Windows-Redirector ist, damit dieser seine internen Fehlerzuordnungsroutinen verwenden kann.” upon start of all applications which refer to non-existent DLLs since about 2 years?

    JFTR: the correct message text is “{Komponente nicht gefunden}\nDie Anwendung konnte nicht gestartet werden, weil %hs nicht gefunden wurde. Neuinstallation der Anwendung könnte das Problem beheben.”

    1. Sorry, I’m the expert for French Windows XP, not German.

      1. Stefan Kanthak says:

        The french edition of XP has this bug too!
        It shows a message box “L’API NtCreateFile a échoué. Cette erreur ne doit jamais être renvoyée à une application : il s’agit d’une marque de réservation que le redirecteur Windows LAN Manager emploie dans ses sous-programmes de mappage d’erreurs internes.” instead of “{Composant introuvable}\nCette application n’a pas pu démarrer car %hs est introuvable. La réinstallation de cette application peut corriger ce problème.”

        Just visit, then fetch and take a look into NTDLL.DLL beginning with message id 0x8020000B

        1. I eagerly await receiving this question from the French government.

          1. cheong00 says:

            Just curious. Do you know French, or do they require the candidates to know French in order to be chosen?

          2. I wrote the declaration in English, and the legal department translated it to French. I trusted their translation. (My understanding of French is limited to faking my way through mathematics textbooks.)

          3. Stefan Kanthak says:

            L’etat c’est moi!

      2. Richard says:

        This may be your best response, EVER! Thank you for making my day!!!!!!

    2. Alois Kraus says:

      @Stefan: Was the application in question compiled for Windows 8 which uses API Sets? That could explain the missing method.

      1. Stefan Kanthak says:

        The message text I refer to is displayed for STATUS_DLL_NOT_FOUND, not for STATUS_ENTRYPOINT_NOT_FOUND
        When Windows module loader encounters the latter, this bug (which I suspect to be present in all but the english edition of XP) results in the display of a message box “{Anwendung mit STRG+C beendet}” instead of “{Einsprungpunkt nicht gefunden}”

    3. Ben Voigt says:

      There’s a straightforward answer somewhere here:
      The messagebox displays that string because that’s the localized resource in the string table. The localized resource is worded that way because that’s what the translation team submitted.

      After a somewhat less straightforward chain, we probably reach an equally straightforward root cause for the bad translation, such as: The translation team was working from the English message text, without any additional context information, let alone technical understanding of the scenario.

  6. Nico says:

    The French Government probably just wanted the name of someone they can call with tech support questions on the weekend now that official support has ended. Good luck! :)

    1. Alex Cohn says:

      … and they probably prefer to ask their questions in Swedish

  7. quiret says:

    Dave Cutler sure must have been amused. :)

  8. Yuhong Bao says:

    “this case arose over a decade after Windows XP was released”
    I wonder when XP will be considered abandonware. Does the WGA servers still check product keys or does it just do nothing now?

    1. ErikF says:

      “Abandonware” isn’t actually a thing: unless the entity that produced the work actually licences it for unlimited use, it is still bound by its original restrictions. As Microsoft is definitely still a going concern, I don’t think that Windows XP will become an orphan work anytime soon!

      Regarding activation, from experience (I installed an unused copy of XP that I had on a VM for some testing) the activation servers still work fine.

      1. Yuhong Bao says:

        I am not talking about legally. I am talking about when it is considered by MS itself as abandonware, in the sense of the WGA servers for example.

    2. xcomcmdr says:

      I activated my copy of Windows XP Pro SP3 (French) a month ago.

      I had to reinstall it because it had decided that HAL.DLL was corrupt or missing for some reason. I copied it from the CD and it was still corrupt apparently.
      I used the recovery console and tried things like FIXBOOT, nothing improved.
      I used CHKDSK, which fixed some stuff, but it still would not boot. In the end, a reinstall was the only solution.

      On a Pentium 3 based computer, it can take days to have everything reinstalled.

      And usually I have to use the “let’s phone the machine-operated Microsoft number provided” solution because activating it over the Internet doesn’t work.
      But this number does not provide the correct codes anymore. Last time I tried it talked about (activating) Windows 8 all the time.

      Anyway, I’m glad that this time and the last time, activation of Windows XP SP3 over the Internet worked flawlessly.
      I didn’t have to retry on anything, yeahhh !

      1. Scarlet Manuka says:

        I activated a copy of Windows XP a couple of weeks ago at my dad’s place – I’d transferred the drive into non-failing hardware and it unsurprisingly wanted reactivation. However, this is the computer in the guest cabin, which has no internet access, no landline, and no mobile signal (yay remote areas). I ended up writing down the ID on a scrap piece of paper, then wandering up the driveway with the paper and a pen until I found a spot with *just* enough signal to make a call (it didn’t show up at all on the signal strength icon). Got the numbers and it worked beautifully, though of course I can’t speak to whether the system bothers to do any validation any more or just says “OK” to everybody.

    3. Andreas says:

      That reminds me a few years ago when we were asked by the CEO to backport a piece of software (that ran on XP and up) to support Windows NT 4. It did not exist on MSDN and for laughs we found it on a torrent site. When we came back and told them that we needed to download a torrent from a warez site in order to (try to) do it they quickly backpedaled and we were off the hook.

      “We would *love* to do it BUT, alas, we cannot find a way to obtain a legal copy of Windows NT to test on!”

  9. Actually, back in 2000s, there were a number of blogs* that said you are an expert in Windows XP. Among them was the cofounder the of Stack Overflow website.

    * When I wrote “blog” I actually meant “websites that published articles from time to time”. The blog format wasn’t exactly a standard back then.

  10. Andrew says:

    Raymond Chen – Senior PIF Editor Architect

  11. Gary Keramidas says:

    I guess you will be the one who’s arrested. LOL

  12. xp.client says:

    Well you wrote the wonderful TweakUI for it among other things :)

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