Yesterday Microsoft announced a timetable for exposing some of the internal workings of Windows. This is one of a number of steps it is taking to comply with a Justice Department-led settlement of antitrust charges, though no court has yet ratified the settlement or made it binding.
Besides revealing details of 272 calls into the Windows OS and licensing access to 113 communication protocols, Microsoft will release service packs that permit resellers or users to remove Microsoft icons from the Windows desktop. Using the Windows calls, competing vendors or resellers should be able to let users set up their programs as defaults instead of Microsoft's -- for example, substituting the Netscape browser for Internet Explorer or RealPlayer for Windows Media Player.
CNET's News.com turned in the heftiest report of the morning, nearly 1,800 words. The big eastern outlets gave the story shorter shrift. The Los Angeles Times found an analyst who called Microsoft's actions "Windows Dressing," and News.com's reporter apparently came up with the same phrase independently.
Did Microsoft jump or was it pushed? News.com quoted Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith: "The changes we are making today are changes that we are obligated to make under the decree." But News.com also ran this comment from a Palo Alto lawyer following the case: "Microsoft's efforts to comply with the yet-unapproved settlement agreement are of no legal significance and are really only of PR value."
Most outlets reported that Microsoft would not reveal the prices it will charge for licensing its server protocols. The Register and InternetNews must have been listening more closely on Brad Smith's conference call, because they reported hearing a figure of $5 per server for some of the licenses.
The Seattle Times stressed how little dancing in the streets resulted from Microsoft's announcements -- "It's too late to help struggling or defunct rivals," reporter Brier Dudley wrote. Dudley talked to many of Microsoft's rivals and found most of them in wait-and-see mode. None were willing to commit to using the code Microsoft is releasing. - Keith Dawson
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