Justice Clears Microsoft Of Vista Complaint - InformationWeek

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5/15/2006
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Justice Clears Microsoft Of Vista Complaint

Federal investigators have closed the case on a complaint filed earlier this year about Vista's "first boot" process, saying Microsoft allows OEMs to customize the operating system and to promote third-party middleware.

Although federal and state antitrust regulators continue to keep an eye on Microsoft's Windows Vista, on Friday they closed the case on a complaint filed earlier this year about the operating system's "first boot" process.

"Plaintiffs continue to monitor developments regarding Windows Vista to assure compliance with the Final Judgments," the Department of Justice report issued Friday said. "This includes extensive testing of developmental builds and betas[and] also includes evaluating whether Vista may contain additional middleware applications subject to the relevant requirements of the Final Judgments, a subject that the TC [Technical Committee] is planning to discuss with Microsoft in the near future."

In February, Justice acknowledged that it was examining Vista for potential violations of the 2002 antitrust settlement but didn't get specific. Friday it noted two areas of concern in Vista:

--- The Vista "Program Defaults" feature (similar to Windows XP's "Set Program Access and Defaults"), which lets users select default applications for file types and manage default middleware

--- The "Most Frequently Used" section of the Windows Start menu The regulators also said that a complaint filed earlier this year about how OEMs could modify the "first boot" experience had been settled to their satisfaction.

Vista sports a "Welcome Center," a new interface that appears when users start the PC for the first time. The Welcome Center is designed to present setup options as well as commercial offers from partners and/or the PC maker.

Since February, the officials said, Microsoft has made changes to the preinstallation kit it provides OEMs for customizing Vista.

"While Plaintiffs were still investigating the matter, Microsoft reached an accommodation that gives all OEMs additional flexibility to customize the first-boot experience and to promote non-Microsoft middleware. Since this addressed the complainant's concerns and resolved any possible issue under the Final Judgments, Plaintiffs have closed their investigation of this complaint," the report stated.

As with complaints leveled against Microsoft and its Internet Explorer 7 browser by Google, concerns over Vista have been voiced not only to U.S. regulators but also to those in the European Union. There, however, Microsoft has not been cleared of any of its rivals' criticisms.

The text of the U.S. report can be viewed here, or downloaded in PDF format from the Department of Justice's Web site.

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