Wednesday disclosed a variety of Windows
technical information that the company said would bring it in line with the
settlement it reached with the Department of Justice last fall.
As it announced
earlier this month, the Redmond, Wash., company disclosed 272 internal
application programming interfaces (APIs) that would allow competitors to
design application that interoperate with Microsoft’s ubiquitous Windows
operating system. The APIs are available on the Microsoft Developer Network Web
Microsoft’s middleware programs use the APIs to interact with both Windows
2000 and XP operating systems. Critics of Microsoft have long charged that
the company has used the APIs as insurance that non-Microsoft products do
not function as well on the 90 percent of computers running Windows
Microsoft said it would publish the APIs, in addition to licensing 113
communications protocols, to bring the company in line with a number of
upcoming deadlines imposed on the company in its settlement with the Justice
Department in November. The settlement still needs to be certified by U.S.
District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who earlier this summer heard closing
arguments from the nine states that rejected the federal government
settlement. She is expected to rule on the case in early fall.
With the APIs disclosed and the communications-protocol licensing program
begun earlier this month, the next item on Microsoft’s to-do list from the
settlement is the widespread release of Windows XP Service Pack 1, which
beta testing early this summer.The service pack is designed to give
computer makers and consumers the ability to avoid Microsoft five middleware
programs: Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, MSN Messenger, Windows Media
Player, and Microsoft’s Java Virtual Machine. Microsoft has said it will be
available in early September.
The XP Service Pack is designed to answer the charges that Microsoft forces
computer makers and user to choose its programs over those from rivals. For
example, it will include on Windows a new start menu button called “set
program access and defaults” that allows users four choices:
computer-maker’s settings; Microsoft only; non-Microsoft only; and
customized. The default choice is customized.
The new options could help computer manufacturers, who can now choose
third-party middleware, as well as rival manufacturers of Microsoft products
like AOL Time Warner and RealNetworks.
Microsoft’s moves to comply with the still-pending settlement could be
washed away in Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling. The states want more
widespread remedies, including Microsoft publishing its entire Windows
source code. Microsoft has refused to consider a compromise that goes
further than its settlement with the Justice Department.