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3/10/2008
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Windows 7 Eyed For Antitrust Violations

The so-called Technical Committee recently received a build of Windows 7 from Microsoft and is checking it for any features that might violate the federal antitrust agreement.

The court-mandated committee overseeing Microsoft's compliance with a federal antitrust settlement has commenced reviews on the company's next major operating system to ensure it meets the settlement's terms.

The so-called Technical Committee recently received a build of Windows 7 from Microsoft and is checking it for any features that might violate the agreement. Presumably, most heavily under scrutiny is whether the OS causes host computers to favor Microsoft applications over third-party software -- a practice the federal government cited in its original complaint against the company.

The Technical Committee's work was revealed in the most recent status report on Microsoft's compliance with the 2002 antitrust settlement, under which the company agreed to make its products interoperable with those made by rivals. The report was filed last week in federal court for the District of Columbia.

Microsoft to date has said little about Windows 7, which had been in development under the code name Blackcomb. It's generally believed that the OS will ship in the 2010 timeframe.

That's one year after the federal government's oversight of Microsoft is now slated to expire. As a result, the Technical Committee is trying to get its hands on as much Windows 7 code as it can as soon as possible. "The TC has begun to review Windows 7 itself. Microsoft recently supplied the TC with a build of Windows 7, and is discussing TC testing going forward," the report stated.

"The TC will conduct middleware-related tests on future builds of Windows 7," the report added.

The report also revealed that some tweaks to Windows Vista in the new Service Pack 1 update include more than just fixes that Microsoft thought were a good idea. In addition to patches that help make the operating system more secure and stable, Vista SP1 also changes the OS to bring it into compliance with the antitrust settlement.

For instance, Vista SP1 fixes two so-called browser overrides -- instances in which the software ignores user default preferences for Web browsing. For example, SP1 eliminates overrides that occur when users launch a Web browser from within Outlook Express or the Windows Help Viewer.

The report noted that the Technical Committee is meeting with independent software vendors "to ensure that middleware ISVs achieve 'Vista Readiness.'"

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