WinInfo Daily UPDATE, January 20, 2004

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1. In the News
- Report: Microsoft Settlement Has "Fallen Short"
- Massachusetts Investigates Microsoft's Search, Document Moves
- Microsoft Might Open Office Source Code

2. Announcements
- Event Central--a Comprehensive Resource for the Latest Events in Your Field
- Register for Windows & .NET Magazine Connections!

3. Event
- Free Web Seminar--The Costs of Spam

4. Contact Us
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.

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==== 1. In the News ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Report: Microsoft Settlement Has "Fallen Short"
On Friday, Microsoft, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the attorneys general of 17 US states and the District of Columbia filed the second quarterly Joint Status Report detailing Microsoft's compliance with its antitrust settlement. From Microsoft's perspective, the report isn't positive. In the report, the forces that once allied against Microsoft describe their realization that the government's weak settlement with the company is having no effect on competition. And Microsoft's technology licensing program, which the settlement describes, is limited to a "narrow set of products," the report notes. In short, the settlement is a bust, which seemed patently obvious to many outside observers when the US District Court for the District of Columbia first announced it in November 2002.
"\[The US government and settling states\] are concerned that the current \[technology\] licensing program has thus far fallen short of satisfying fully the goals \[of the settlement\]," the report says. "\[We\] have received an additional complaint regarding the sufficiency and completeness of the Technical Documentation that Microsoft provides to ... licensees \[as well\]. \[We\] have received two complaints about aspects of Microsoft's license agreements with OEMs that govern the licensing of Windows Operating System Products. The United States has received \[6 substantive complaints\] ... referring to the Final Judgment ... which will require additional investigation, and that investigation has commenced. Substantive complaints are those that raise issues with Microsoft's compliance with, or the United States' enforcement of, the Final Judgment."
The concerns that the report raises apply to some of the settlement's core tenets. First, Microsoft is required to license Windows fairly to all companies, regardless of their relationship with the software giant; this stipulation prevents Microsoft from punishing companies with which it doesn't have a close relationship. Second, Microsoft is required to license interoperability technologies so that competitors can build products and services that work as well with Windows as Microsoft's own products do. So far, only 11 companies have licensed these technologies, whereas many others have complained that the terms are unfavorable. Third, from a more conceptual standpoint, the settlement was supposed to restore healthy competition to the PC industry. But Microsoft clearly retains a sizable advantage over other companies; Microsoft makes both the dominant OS platform and many of that platform's most popular applications. "\[We\] are concerned that the development efforts of the current licensees are not likely to spur the emergence in the marketplace of broad competitors to the Windows desktop," the report says.
Another tidbit from the report is that Microsoft made its recent decision to change the "Shop For Music Online" link in Windows XP during discussions with the DOJ and states, which cited the feature as an example of the company's noncompliance. After many months of resisting attempts to address this concern, Microsoft agreed to change the link so that it will open any type of Web browser the user selected, rather than Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), as is the case today. A fix is expected by next month.
Microsoft's section of the report notes that the company has been in "full compliance" with the terms of the settlement and that the company is in the process of making its technology licensing program more fully fulfill the recommendations from the DOJ and settling states. Microsoft also notes that although only 11 companies have signed its technology licensing agreements, the company is in discussions with 20 others. "Today's report confirms that the compliance process is working and that there is thorough oversight," a Microsoft spokesperson said.

Massachusetts Investigates Microsoft's Search Engine, Document Format Moves Massachusetts, the only state still actively pursuing a stricter set of remedies for Microsoft's antitrust crimes, announced Friday that it is investigating the company for a "troubling" new set of antitrust violations. "We have continued to receive and review indications that Microsoft is engaged in troubling business behavior," Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly noted in a written statement. "None of our completed investigations have shown such behavior to be effectively cabined by the court's existing prohibitions."
Massachusetts alleges that Microsoft "is currently engaged in a campaign against various Internet search engines similar to the campaign it previously waged against Netscape's Navigator browser." The state is also investigating charges that Microsoft is launching illegal offenses against document formats such as the Adobe Acrobat PDF format. "If Microsoft is taking steps to hobble the competitive effectiveness of these rival products and thereby supplant them, such serial killing of competing technologies is a serious and troubling prospect," the Massachusetts announcement states. "It also, however, seems unlikely that this conduct ... could be stopped by the limited scope of this court's standing \[consent\] decree."
The technical press has been closely scrutinizing Microsoft's moves in the Internet search-engine market since last October, when the company demonstrated the integrated search capabilities of Longhorn, its next Windows version. Various analysts have speculated that Microsoft's search technology is designed to attack Internet search-engine leader Google, and just last week Microsoft unveiled its new MSN 9 software, which includes a revamped MSN Web site with improved search capabilities.
"Given the vague nature of the allegations, it's difficult to respond," a Microsoft spokesperson said late Friday. "We're always willing to sit down and discuss issues of concern with them."

Microsoft Might Open Office Source Code
Microsoft could hardly be called an open-source supporter, but the company will probably open more of its source code with a new expansion of the Shared Source Initiative, this time to include the source code to the other half of the company's crown jewels, Microsoft Office. The company already shares the source code to all Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, and Windows 2000 versions and much of the source code to Windows CE .NET with select partners, governments, educational institutions, and even technology enthusiasts.
"We're not holding anything back in terms of our thinking on this," Shared Source Program Manager Jason Matusow told CNET News.com recently. "We're looking at how we provide source code \[for these products\] and for which communities."
Microsoft already licenses the XML-based file formats that many Office 2003 applications use, but licensing document file formats is different from licensing application source code. As with Windows source code licensing, customers who license Office might expect to learn enough about the inner workings of the suite to help them create add-ons and complementary applications that work better with the Office suite. From a less technical standpoint, opening Office could ease concerns from governments, which are increasingly pressuring their suppliers for open-source--or at least standards-based--solutions. Access to the Office source code could assure governments that their data isn't subject to any unknown security problems.

==== 2. Announcements ====
(from Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

Event Central--a Comprehensive Resource for the Latest Events in Your Field
Looking for one place to find the latest Web seminars, roadshows, and conferences? Event Central has every topic you're looking for. Stay current on the latest developments in your field. Visit Event Central and find answers now!
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Register for Windows & .NET Magazine Connections!
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4. ==== CONTACT US ====

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