Surprise! Late last week, Apple named both Intel and Microsoft in a lawsuit claiming that the two companies used QuickTime for Windows code to boost the performance of onscreen video in their products. This follows a lawsuit Apple filed in December against The San Francisco Canyon Company, with whom Apple had contracted in 1992 to write code for the Windows version of QuickTime. Apple alleges that Canyon subsequently incorporated major portions of QuickTime code written for Apple into products written for Intel to enhance Microsoft’s Video For Windows (VFW), and that some of these changes later found their way into Microsoft’s latest shipping version of VFW (1.1d). Apple claims that attempts to address this issue directly with Microsoft and Intel resulted in the companies’ belittling QuickTime’s technology and refusing to seriously acknowledge the issue. Even Bill Gates himself was "not particularly helpful in resolving the situation," according to David Nagel, in charge of Apple’s AppleSoft division. Apple is seeking damages and an order to stop distribution of the software.
Microsoft said Friday in a press release that the low-level driver code is not used in currently shipping versions of Windows (nor is it planned to be included in Windows 95) and that they had every reason to believe they had all necessary rights to use the code they licensed from Intel. Moreover, Microsoft claims that they repeatedly requested information from Apple in order to resolve the issue, but that Apple neither gave Microsoft specific information nor provided evidence to demonstrate either its ownership or Microsoft’s infringement. "We’re disappointed that Apple chose to go to court rather than provide the information we sought," said Microsoft’s Bill Neukom.
Although the version of Video for Windows in question, 1.1d, does not ship with Windows itself, it is widely available through developer’s kits, online services, and multimedia products from Microsoft and other companies. Microsoft says performance improvements in Video for Windows were implemented in version 1.1c and have nothing to do with the disputed code. In an interesting related move, the same day Apple named Microsoft and Intel in this lawsuit, Apple announced it will no longer charge third-party developers a fee for distributing QuickTime with their products.