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Home » Hacking News » You are free to express yourself, as long as it looks like microcraps interface

You are free to express yourself, as long as it looks like microcraps interface

by Majik on August 10th, 2001 Microsoft Corp. is retreating further from public statements about how much flexibility it will give computer makers to configure the opening screen of its new operating system, Windows XP.

Company spokesman Vivek Varma confirmed yesterday that if computer makers put icons for non-Microsoft programs on the opening screen, then the software giant will require that a package of Microsoft icons be placed on the screen as well. Previously, the company said just one icon would have to be added - for the company's MSN Internet service.

Microsoft Vice President Jim Allchin first made the new declaration in an interview published earlier this week in the trade publication e Week. Shawn Sanford, a Windows group product manager, said that if computer makers add icons, Microsoft will require icons for the following: Windows Media Player, which enables users to download music and video from the Internet; Internet Explorer, which enables browsing of the World Wide Web; and MSN Explorer, a simplified version of Internet Explorer. But company officials said computer makers could still choose to remove the Internet Explorer and MSN Explorer icons, but if the latter is removed it must be replaced with an icon for Microsoft's MSN Internet service. The Windows Media Player icon must remain.

The ability of computer users to find non-Microsoft software programs in Windows is an important element in the antitrust case against the company, after a federal appeals court found that Microsoft had illegally abused its monopoly power by, in part, denying computer makers the ability to provide easy access to software products from Microsoft competitors.

Originally, the company had touted a "clean desktop," or opening screen, for XP to replace current versions of Windows that often are cluttered with multiple icons. Microsoft said its user tests favored such an approach, which put most frequently used program icons in a separate "start" menu. Critics charged it was another way for Microsoft for put its competitors at a disadvantage.

But in response to the June 28 appeals court ruling, Microsoft announced on July 11 that it would give computer makers the ability to configure the opening screen as they wished. This freed the manufacturers to cut their own financial deals with various software makers for icon placement, enabling them to create custom software packages aimed at certain types of users.

Soon after, Compaq Computer Corp. announced a deal with Microsoft arch rival AOL Time Warner Inc. for exclusive placement of the AOL icon in the start-up sequence of Windows, and on the desktop, for which Compaq would collect a bounty of $35 for every new AOL user who signed up.

On July 30, Microsoft responded to media inquiries by acknowledging that if computer makers placed any icons on the desktop, they had to include the icon for MSN, which competes with AOL. No mention was made of other Microsoft icons.

Varma said yesterday that he erred if he left the impression that only the MSN icon was required, and that computer manufacturers had been informed of the multiple-icon policy.

Sanford said computer makers also can configure the eight slots in the start menu, but three of the eight icons must be for Microsoft applications, including Windows Media Player.

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