Longhorn Eyed for Antitrust Violations

Earlier this week, the technical committee that monitors Microsoft's compliance to its landmark antitrust settlement filed a semiannual status report that reveals Longhorn -- the next iteration of Windows -- is being kept under the watchful eye of the group.

The committee, which includes state regulators and the U.S. Department of Justice, has been closely monitoring Longhorn's development for the past two years. The report indicates concern over Microsoft's compliance with the terms of the settlement prior to Longhorn's eventual release.

A Microsoft spokesperson responded to the report, noting to BetaNews that Longhorn is still in "early" development and welcomed additional oversight.


"All development at Microsoft is done with full consideration and understanding of our obligations and commitment under the consent decree and final judgments," the spokesperson said. "We think it's important to be working closely and openly with the DOJ and states early in the Longhorn development process to address any questions and concerns now."

But Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox questioned how Redmond would handle an investigation by the government. "I wonder how Microsoft is going to tell the DOJ about Longhorn when the company doesn't seem to know yet," Wilcox remarked to BetaNews.

"Remember that Microsoft already chucked some features, and there is some uncertainty whether Microsoft has even decided how many versions to ship. It seems many development decisions are yet to made, and I found that surprising given where I would expect progress to be."

Other concerns raised in the report make mention of Windows XP Service Pack 2 and the sweeping changes Microsoft has made to the way Windows handles middleware from third-party vendors. The committee is investigating the possibility that the settlement does not grant Microsoft the absolution that it needed in order to develop SP2 according to its designs.

The report is the first sign of life among regulators on the western side of the Atlantic since Microsoft reached a settlement with U.S. Department of Justice and a coalition of state governments in 2001.

Across the ocean, Microsoft is on track to ship a special version of Windows that does not include Windows Media Player. The release comes as a consequence of Microsoft's decision not to appeal an interim court ruling in the European Union.

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