It may be at least two years distant, but Microsoft Corp’s planned desktop replacement for Windows XP is already coming under scrutiny from US antitrust officials.
National and state representatives have begun discussions with Microsoft in an attempt to ensure Longhorn complies with stipulations concerning integration of Microsoft’s middleware and Windows, laid out under the official final antitrust settlement.
Longhorn is not expected until the first half of 2006 at the earliest.
According to the latest Joint Status Report on Microsoft’s Compliance with the final judgments, regulators are acting early in order to address any potential concerns in a timely manner, before the [operating system’s] final structure is locked into place.
Of particular interest are Longhorn’s implications for section III.H of the final judgments.
That section designates that end-users and OEMs must be able to remove Microsoft’s middleware from the operating system, invoke non-Microsoft middleware, and ensure that Microsoft’s middleware does automatically alter an OEM’s configuration of icons or seek conformation from an end-user to alter the icons.
Microsoft Corp took its first steps towards meeting these guidelines in 2002, with the launch of Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1). SP1 introduced the ability for OEMs and end-users to remove access to Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Windows Messenger, Outlook Express and Microsoft’s Java Virtual Machine.
The Joint Status Report, published every six months to monitor Microsoft’s compliance with the settlement and report on complaints against the company, concluded that plaintiffs would: Continue to follow developments in the design of Longhorn as they related to the final judgments, and will report to the court any issues arising from this monitoring activity.