Microsoft to Alter Vista for EU, Korea

Microsoft issued a statement this morning saying it is going ahead with plans to release Windows Vista to volume licensees worldwide on November 30, as previously scheduled. There will be no further delays, even in Europe and Korea where competitors have recently raised complaints, but Microsoft will be making changes to Vista.

Microsoft indicated last month, it might have had to delay Vista's release in the EU in order to address concerns raised by the European Commission. Some of Microsoft's rivals had raised concerns there that some Vista features might be too exclusive, preventing customers from choosing alternatives from other suppliers. South Korea will also benefit from these changes, as the company has been facing antitrust proceedings there as well.

This morning, Reuters is citing unnamed sources close to the development process as saying that Microsoft's changes pertain to the ability for consumers to choose alternative features. The precise identity of those features was not named, but given the fact that the most vocal critics of Vista to date before the EC have been Symantec and Adobe, Microsoft may have chosen to give consumers the option of installing third-party security and document rendering features.

Whether Microsoft's openness toward potentially more lucrative features, such as media players and the Web browser, remains to be seen. Likewise, it's unclear whether these options will be featured only in European and Korean editions of Vista, or if they may apply to the North American edition as well.

While Microsoft painted a picture this morning of having appreciated the "guidance" it's received from the EC, general counsel Brad Smith cleverly made it clear that the revised edition may not necessarily have passed any commissioner's inspection.

"We recognize that the European Commission does not give 'green lights' for new products, and we have not asked for one," Smith said. "We appreciate the constructive dialogue we have had with the commission and the guidance the commission has provided," Smith stated. "Based on this guidance, we have made changes to ensure that we're in compliance with our competition law obligations, and we are moving forward to make Windows Vista available on a worldwide basis."

In a statement from Brussels this morning, the EC acknowledged Microsoft had informed it that it would not delay Vista for Europe, but wanted to make sure no one makes the mistake of thinking it had granted its blessing on the product.

"The Commission has not given a 'green light' to Microsoft to deliver Vista," the EC statement reads, "because, as the Commission has consistently stated, Microsoft must shoulder its own responsibilities to ensure that Vista is fully compliant with EC Treaty competition rules and in particular with the principles laid down in the March 2004 Commission anti-trust decision concerning Microsoft. In line with the Commission's obligations under the EC Treaty and its practice, the Commission will closely monitor the effects of Vista in the market and, in particular, examine any complaints concerning Vista on their own merits."

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