Group: Windows XP SP1 Violates Antitrust Settlement

An advocacy group this week submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice alleging that Microsoft's efforts to comply with the antitrust settlement through changes implemented in its recent Windows XP and Windows 2000 service packs are "hopelessly inadequate and misleading."

In the paper, the Project to Promote Competition & Innovation in the Digital Age, a group whose members include Microsoft opponents such as Sun Microsystems and Oracle Corp., focused on the section of the settlement requiring Microsoft to remove end user access to middleware including Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, the Microsoft Virtual Machine, Outlook Express and Windows Messenger.

"Our analysis ... reveals at least six separate and ongoing violations of this one section," ProComp asserted in the letter signed by group president Mitchell S. Pettit. "We respectfully suggest that the Department must immediately respond to Microsoft's August 28 filing, seeking an order mandating total compliance with this section."

ProComp is currently engaged in an analysis of Microsoft's compliance with the settlement in publishing Application Programming Interfaces and communications protocols on Aug. 28, as well. The group opposed the settlement agreement as too soft nine months ago.

ProComp's first problem with Microsoft's "Set Program Access and Defaults" utility that is included in Windows XP Service Pack 1 and Windows 2000 Service Pack 3, is that it arrives in a service pack.

"Microsoft has artificially architected and bundled Windows XP Service Pack 1 in such a way as to virtually guarantee that it will not be utilized by consumers in the first place," the group writes, noting that the service pack download is 30 MB. ProComp sees a violation in Microsoft's decision not to provide the end user utility as a separate download from the service pack, and in the decision not to provide OEMs with a tool for removing the Microsoft middleware independent of the service pack.

Other violations of the settlement that ProComp alleges in its letter are that:

  • The utility does not appear in the first Start Menu screen in Windows XP.
  • The utility is not intuitive and no help is provided.
  • The implementation of the utility is less intuitive in Windows 2000 than in Windows XP.
  • The My Music folder is non-compliant because it launches Internet Explorer when a user goes to shop for CDs even after that user has selected Netscape Navigator as the default browser and removed access to Internet Explorer.
  • The middleware definition included in the settlement means Microsoft was required to includes the Common Language Runtime of its .NET Framework as removable middleware in the "Set Program Access and Defaults" menu.

    Editor's note: ProComp has posted a PDF of its letter on the organization's Web site.

  • About the Author

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


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