25 April 2002 Microsoft chairman and co-founder Bill Gates has been forced to admit that it is possible to create a stripped down version of the Windows operating system.
Under cross-examination in the Microsoft antitrust trial, Gates acknowledged that Windows XP Embedded allowed programmers to pick and choose between components and functions. He also admitted that Windows XP Embedded could be run on standard PCs. Windows XP Embedded is intended for specialised products such as bank cash machines and cash registers.
This contradicts Gates’ previous arguments that paring down Windows would not be feasible and could cripple the operating system. It bolsters claims from the nine rebel states that Microsoft could create a version of its Windows operating system without applications such as Internet Explorer and Media Player. This would allow computer manufacturers to install products from rival software vendors.
The nine litigating states and the District of Columbia have pursued the case after refusing to agree to the November 2001 settlement accepted by the US Department of Justice and the other states involved in the action. Instead, they are pushing for harsher restrictions on Microsoft’s business practices.
However, Gates insists that their proposals would dramatically affect Microsoft and that “research and development would go into a 10-year period of hibernation”. He added that the discounts that Microsoft would be forced to offer for a slimmed down version of the ubiquitous operating system could reach billions of dollars.