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Microsoft Makes US Antitrust Concessions

As part of an ongoing examination of Microsoft's compliance with its 2001 antitrust settlement with the US government, Microsoft has agreed to make small changes to Windows XP. These changes will bring XP into line with the requirements of the settlement, which require Microsoft to ensure that users can hide all of the functionality exposes by so-called middleware applications, such as Internet Explorer (IE), Windows Media Player (WMP), Windows Messenger, and Microsoft Outlook Express.

In a court filing made public yesterday, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed the changes, which include removing IE-centric icons from Web documents in XP when IE is hidden and the user has chosen a different Web browser. Also, XP will be modified so that it automatically deletes user-created shortcuts to middleware applications that are later hidden.

Microsoft says that it agreed to the changes as soon as it was made aware of the concerns. "There was a tremendous effort by all parties to ensure that the agreement is working," a Microsoft spokesperson noted. An oversight committee created in the wake of the 2001 settlement is responsible for finding such problems in XP, and is working with Microsoft to ensure that Longhorn, the next Windows version, does not include any similar antitrust-related problems.

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