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XP Changes On The Way

Microsoft is fixing bugs and addressing changes required by the U.S. Justice Department.

Microsoft this summer plans to release a "service pack" collection of bug fixes, security patches, and changes to Windows XP's code required by an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department.

Service pack 1 for Windows XP will include a new choice in Windows XP's "start" menu, and other places in the PC operating system's user interface, that lets users hide icons for Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Windows Media Player, and Windows Messenger programs. Windows 2000 users will see the change in service pack 3, due within the next three months. That release will also let users hide access to Microsoft's Java Virtual Machine, which isn't included in Windows XP.

The changes to the Windows' user interface are required by a settlement agreement between Microsoft, the Justice Department, and nine states that were suing the company for antitrust violations, says Jim Cullinan, Windows XP lead product manager. The November agreement says that Microsoft must let users designate non-Microsoft middleware to run in place of Microsoft programs that are ordinarily default choices in Windows. Nine other states are seeking tougher sanctions against the company.

Service pack 1 for Windows XP will be loaded onto new PCs, included in boxed versions of the product, and made available for as a free download in late summer, Cullinan says. Microsoft plans to release a first beta version of the service pack to about 10,000 testers within about two weeks.

The service pack includes security fixes that Microsoft discovered during 10 weeks of dedicated security repair work undertaken by Windows programmers this winter and spring.

Microsoft also plans to disable a window that continually prompts Windows XP users to sign up for Microsoft Passport, an online authentication mechanism.

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