Microsofts Longhorn system is closely watched

28 January 2005 US Department of Justice (DoJ) officials have lined up a mid-February meeting with Microsoft, seeking reassurance that the software giant’s next operating system will not break antitrust promises.

Microsoft is not due to release its next version of Windows, currently known as Longhorn, until 2006. But already US officials are keen to see that Microsoft is sticking to agreements it made as part of the 2001 antitrust case brought against the software maker.

The DoJ officials will be looking to confirm that Longhorn includes provision for PC makers and end users to choose alternatives to Microsoft’s products that run on top of Windows. For example, some users may prefer to use alternative Internet browsers, such as Opera and Firefox, rather than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

In a report issued earlier this week, the DoJ said it had drawn up a list of issues it wished to track. The list includes the issue of how Microsoft shares technical information with competitors.

Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake said Microsoft was committed to adhering to the agreement reached with the DoJ. “We think it’s important to be working closely and openly with the Department of Justice and states early in the Longhorn development process to address any questions and concerns now,” she added.

Having been found guilty of abusing its dominance of the operating system market, by both US and European regulators, Microsoft has appeared more willing to co-operate with authorities recently.

In recent weeks, Microsoft has confirmed that it will not appeal the European Commission ruling against it. The EC has demanded that Microsoft produce a version of its operating system that does not include its own media player.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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