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Senator Calls for Hearings on Windows XP

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, called Tuesday for senate hearings on Windows XP.

Schumer is urging state antitrust officials to force a delay of the Oct. 25 Windows XP release unless Microsoft allows PC manufacturers and consumers to choose their media player, messenger service and other software. Schumer also urged Charles James, the assistant attorney general for the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, to require changes to Windows XP before agreeing to any antitrust settlement.

Schumer, who identifies himself as a Microsoft supporter over the last year and a half, says Microsoft's behavior surrounding Windows XP is changing his opinion of the company.

"In a number of markets, and specifically in the case of two New York companies -- Kodak and AOL Time Warner -- I have observed Microsoft engaging in what appear to be anti-competitive practices, and my views on the company are swiftly changing," Schumer says.

Those two major constituents are relatively new to either Schumer's state or to the antitrust fray. AOL became a concern of Schumer's district only recently with the completion of the AOL-Time Warner merger. And Kodak only ran afoul of Microsoft as it tried to prepare its imaging software for Windows XP; the episode was chronicled in The Wall Street Journal.

Microsoft downplayed the seriousness of the charges.

"While we respect the opinion of Senator Schumer and all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Microsoft does not believe the complaints of AOL and Kodak merit a Congressional hearing," the company said in a statement.

Judiciary committee hearings on Windows XP would be an uncomfortable situation for Microsoft. Business friendly Republicans no longer run the Senate or the committees. Meanwhile, Schumer's Judiciary Committee colleague Maria Cantwell, the new Democrat from Washington state, recently left RealNetworks to run for the Senate. She could pose some pointed questions about Windows Media Player.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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