Group says Microsoft isn't living up to antitrust settlement

An industry group backed by some of Microsoft's top competitors has sent a letter to the US Department of Justice (DoJ) claiming...

An industry group backed by some of Microsoft's top competitors has sent a letter to the US Department of Justice (DoJ) claiming that the software maker is not living up to the terms of a proposed antitrust settlement deal that it reached with the federal government.

Project to Promote Competition and Innovation in the Digital Age (ProComp), alleged that Microsoft software issued to comply with the proposed deal was difficult to download and use.

Microsoft reached an agreement with the DoJ and nine state attorneys general who were also plaintiffs in the antitrust suit. Microsoft has already begun implementing some of the changes required in that agreement. In late August, it filed a document with the US District Court for the District of Columbia that summarised how it is complying with the proposed consent decree.

As part of its compliance effort, Microsoft released Service Pack 1 for Windows XP, a set of product updates and security fixes for the company's operating system. ProComp argued that the 30Mbyte download was not "readily accessible to consumers", and was "non-intuitive" when it came to obtaining it and installing it on a PC.

The trade group, whose members include Oracle and Sun Microsystems, also took issue with a feature included in the update that was designed to allow end users to substitute Microsoft applications that start up by default on a Windows PC, such as its Web browser and media player, with competing products from third-party vendors.

ProComp argued that the tool, which appears on Windows XP desktops as "Set Program Access and Defaults", is difficult to find and too complicated to use.

That tool has a menu that allows users to choose, for example, "Windows Media Player" or "my current browser". It doesn't, however, list any other options for competing products such as Netscape Navigator.

Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler accused the group of "playing politics", adding that there was ample time to raise issues with Microsoft. The company has said that third-party vendors and PC makers will be responsible for tuning their software to show up as options in the menu.

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