This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Industry Standard's Media Grok email newsletter. It is archived here for informational purposes only because The Standard's site is no more. This material is Copyright 1999-2001 by Standard Media.

Icon Wars

Jul 31 2001 08:32 AM PDT

Competitors say Microsoft is playing bait-and-switch with its agreement to allow competitors' icons on desktops.

Microsoft gives with one hand and takes away with the other. That's the reaction of competitors to the news that even though Microsoft announced a few weeks ago that it would let computer manufacturers add other companies' icons to the Windows XP startup screen, it is insisting that the icon for its ISP, MSN, be included too.

Microsoft had been waving its concession in the face of a Congress bent on scheduling hearings about Windows XP's possible anti-competitive impact.

The Wall Street Journal's Rebecca Buckman ran with a story yesterday. This morning Wired and the Washington Post amplified the coverage of industry reaction. "Microsoft appears to be taking the position that the court of appeals can get lost," an AOL VP grumped to the Post's reporter. Wired quoted an attorney who represented Compaq in the government's antitrust action against Microsoft: "I guess we all know (Microsoft CEO) Steve Ballmer says they can integrate ham sandwiches with the OS if they want to."

Some outlets reported without comment the insistence of Microsoft spokesman Vivek Varma that this story is not news. It "shouldn't be treated as some kind of surprise," as Wired put it. ran some predictably scathing commentary from the Linux and Open Source communities. One poster compared Microsoft's stipulation to "saying you can divorce your wife but you still have to live with her." Perhaps a Microsoft breakup would best be supervised by a divorce court?

Microsoft Will Oblige PC Makers To Add Icon for Its MSN Service
The Wall Street Journal
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Icons Cluttering up Windows Space

Microsoft Position on MSN Icon Angers Competitors
Washington Post

You can ditch IE, but not MSN