U.S anti-trust regulators to test Windows 7 more thoroughly

The three member panel of Technical Advisers (Technical Committee - TC) to the antitrust regulators which monitor Microsoft's compliance with a 2002 antitrust settlement will test Windows 7 more thoroughly, according to a status report filed with the federal judge watching over the company.

The 2002 antitrust settlement requires Microsoft to document the communication protocols so that other developers and competitors can design software to work with Windows. Microsoft and State & Federal Antitrust officials are required to deliver regular reports to U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. On December 5,2008, Microsoft delivered to the TC updated technical documents in anticipation of the release of the Windows 7 beta in which it mentioned that changes to the protocols in Windows 7 required 30 new and 87 revised technical documents.

In response to the December 5th report, TC has made changes to the Windows 7 testing strategy. The status report reads:

In the light of the number of new documents that need to be reviewed, the TC is going to shift its focus to direct review of the documents by the TC's engineers as the most efficient method of identifying issues with the documentation. The revised strategy will enable the TC to review the new Windows 7 and system documents more thoroughly than it would otherwise, which is particularly desirable given the significance of these new documents to the project as a whole.

Microsoft is also under the constant surveillance of European Union which recently accused Microsoft of breaking antitrust laws by including the company's Internet Explorer browser with the Windows, which may require Microsoft to install other browsers too and urged Microsoft to follow open web standards.

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Some very interesting things and some very valid points are being said here. My personal take on this is that Microsoft should not be punished for bundling a bunch of software to make their PRODUCT better. In my opinion DOS was an operating system. The Linux kernel is an operating system. However, Windows, OS X and the various flavors of GNU/Linux are more like a product rather than just an OS. The way I see things, Microsoft is selling a Product that lets people be more productive. And if they didn't bundle a Web Browser with their OS then how the hell would people be able to get on the Internet to get a different Web browser for instance?

That being said, I don't certainly agree with a lot of their practices of conducting business but business in general in today's world is a dirty game. The way I see it, they should let them bundle whatever they wish with their product but given their role in the global market, they should provide an easy and obvious way for their customers to be able to learn about and get to other products and services. They could for instance extend the Windows Marketplace and let all vendors to publish their products there and let the users rate and chose which product to use.

Honestly, I don't think Internet Explorer is such a horrible browser like a lot of people say and I am a web developer by profession. I, for a change, think IE7 was a decent browser and they are doing some good progress with version 8. Yes, older versions sucked in terms of standards compatibility and such but in IE 5/6's era most sites were done using tables, some CSS and some basic JavaScript. I think IE6 should have been what IE7 is and IE7 -> IE8 (then even the version number was going to follow the OS version number too).

Obry said,
Some very interesting things and some very valid points are being said here. My personal take on this is that Microsoft should not be punished for bundling a bunch of software to make their PRODUCT better. In my opinion DOS was an operating system. The Linux kernel is an operating system. However, Windows, OS X and the various flavors of GNU/Linux are more like a product rather than just an OS. The way I see things, Microsoft is selling a Product that lets people be more productive. And if they didn't bundle a Web Browser with their OS then how the hell would people be able to get on the Internet to get a different Web browser for instance?

That being said, I don't certainly agree with a lot of their practices of conducting business but business in general in today's world is a dirty game. The way I see it, they should let them bundle whatever they wish with their product but given their role in the global market, they should provide an easy and obvious way for their customers to be able to learn about and get to other products and services. They could for instance extend the Windows Marketplace and let all vendors to publish their products there and let the users rate and chose which product to use.

Honestly, I don't think Internet Explorer is such a horrible browser like a lot of people say and I am a web developer by profession. I, for a change, think IE7 was a decent browser and they are doing some good progress with version 8. Yes, older versions sucked in terms of standards compatibility and such but in IE 5/6's era most sites were done using tables, some CSS and some basic JavaScript. I think IE6 should have been what IE7 is and IE7 -> IE8 (then even the version number was going to follow the OS version number too).

I'm a web dev too working for a medium sized company (100000 visitors (sessions) a month).

IE 5 was okay for its time. It was a good improvement over IE4.
IE 7 is not that bad honestly and definately a big step forward.

But IE6 was a really bad browser honestly with awful CSS support and not standard compliant. There's still cie on Windows 2000 so there's still people out there using it for intranet purpose and internet too. We are still on Windows 2000 (we will switch to XP this year) and when i'm working on the intranet i need to make it works for IE6 but i also need to make it works for IE7 since we will switch to XP. And since a good share of our visitors still use IE6 i need to support it when i work on our Web site.

I'm ok with IE7 honestly. But IE6 was a big mess.

C_Guy said,
I see there is no shortage of paranoia around Microsoft. Can't we just get over it already?

Paranoia rofl

You are SURELY without any doubt one of the naive people who think DirectX 10 was not made for Windows XP because it was impossible to do it.

Open your eyes you really need to do it.

LaP said,
Paranoia rofl

You are SURELY without any doubt one of the naive people who think DirectX 10 was not made for Windows XP because it was impossible to do it.

Open your eyes you really need to do it.

DirectX is just an API. Of course they *could* port it to XP. But at what cost to it? They'd have to leave out all GPU scheduling and virtual memory capabilities, for example (XP's kernel can't support them)

LaP said,
You are SURELY without any doubt one of the naive people who think DirectX 10 was not made for Windows XP because it was impossible to do it.


And it would be totally possible to backport the DWM, the new audio stack, the new network stack, the new video stack (of which DX10 depends on), the new servicing stack, the improved mult-core support, the MinWin work, etc, as well as the new stuff in 7 like the new taskbar, device stage, better SSD handling, native bluetooth stack, native HDMI support, etc to XP, but how are the people that wrote the code that went in to DX10, and all those other features supposed to support their families if all their work is given away for free?

In general, isn't this about having no hidden API's that would give MS Software an advantage (easier to code against Windows 7) compared to competitors who would have to use only published API's which may make things harder to do?

If so, then fine - I agree. It's pretty underhand to have secret API's to give other departments in your company a helping hand.

However removing items such as WMP, Outlook Express, IE and other applications I disagree with. Microsoft should be able to add what apps they want as long they can be replaced with 3rd party applications with ease. (e.g. Firefox, RealPlayer etc.)

I've given up replying to LTD's comments. Courts and Judges make mistakes. They can be bribed. They don't always have the public's best intentions at heart. People and businesses get retractions from courts all the time. They are not definiative and any judgement doesn't not automatically make the judgement correct. We acknowledge that our legal framework isn't perfect, therefore LTD, looking at the comments in most of the threads about this I think we can safely assume that the majority of the public disagree with the ruling so far.

stevehoot said,
Courts and Judges make mistakes. They can be bribed. They don't always have the public's best intentions at heart. People and businesses get retractions from courts all the time. They are not definiative and any judgement doesn't not automatically make the judgement correct. We acknowledge that our legal framework isn't perfect, therefore LTD, looking at the comments in most of the threads about this I think we can safely assume that the majority of the public disagree with the ruling so far.

No. the majority of the public doesn't really care about these rulings or any other ones relating to Microsoft. Unless you count Neowin and the blogosphere as the majority. That's why there has been absolutely no public outcry against any of the rulings. It has nothing to do with jobs, healthcare, budgets, or the national deficit. It has nothing to do with what the "majority of the public" actually cares about. In fact, if anything, it tarnished MS' image with the public, i.e., more "big corporation" wrongdoing. No one is going to feel sorry for a multi-billion dollar multinational!

The "majority of the public" doesn't post on Neowin. They don't build computers. They go to their IT guy at work so he can "clean" their Windows box, and they couldn't care any less about which browser ships with Windows.

So you can't "safely assume" anything because you don't seem to have a grasp of what's going on outside your front door.

Just stop selling computers with any pre-installed software/operating system then there won't be a problem and we won't get all the extra crap software which is either useless cos its only demo crap or "lite versions" which seriously how many people use that crap software that comes pre-installed on new computers....

Also then I won't have to buy a off the shelf copy of windows since the restore Cd's / dvd's that come with new computers have that crap on as part of the restore and I like a clean system with only the software I want installed on my computer and if other people want to use Linux or whatever then they can buy a copy of the self since it does sit right next to all those other operating systems (cough cough) oh yeah forgot they don't know how to advertise or package there software like Microsoft they need big brother to hold there hand and make Microsoft include it with there software...

Surely we could sue these dumb arse gov departments for implying we are to stupid to know about other software company's and only believe there is Microsoft software...

nottie said,
Surely we could sue these dumb arse gov departments for implying we are to stupid to know about other software company's and only believe there is Microsoft software...

Regarding the first part of your comment: you can't.

Regarding the second part: Yes. A lot of people are.

This anti-trust BS is a joke..... Everyone knows MS has the biggest cookie jar, and they all want to stick a hand in it..... And because of one ruling a few years back, they'll get whatever they want. Pretty soon, the amt of money they've extorted out of MS will be enough to buy a country...

I'm sure the idiots on that panel don't even have a highschool degree. I hope features don't get stripped because of this. MS should buy and island and make it's own damn rules.

Luis.A said,
I'm sure the idiots on that panel don't even have a highschool degree. I hope features don't get stripped because of this. MS should buy and island and make it's own damn rules.


Wouldn't work because if they have to sell it in America, american laws apply, in Europe, europe laws apply, etc

If Vista made it through this review so will 7, if anything 7 has left out some stuff that is now optional and part of Windows Live. This is just a bunch of beuaracrats trying to look like they are doing something.

dcoaster said,
Next up, OS X.

That's what was said last year. And the year before, and the year before that . . .

There is already at the very least plenty of Persuasive (in dicta) Precedent in Apple's favour. And this goes back years. So far, Apple has not met the legal standards for a monopoly, much less met any legal standards that qualifies it as an abuser of a monopoly. No matter how much some of us like to think or assume it does.

LTD said,
That's what was said last year. And the year before, and the year before that . . .

There is already at the very least plenty of Persuasive (in dicta) Precedent in Apple's favour. And this goes back years. So far, Apple has not met the legal standards for a monopoly, much less met any legal standards that qualifies it as an abuser of a monopoly. No matter how much some of us like to think or assume it does.


Your definition of monopoly is flawed.

Microsoft is not a monopoly because competition exists. Theres linux, theres unix, theres mac and theres windows.

In the office segment, theres openoffice, theres staroffice etc

In the games segment, theres a billion competitiors

etc etc etc

Just because windows has a much higher market share than any of its competitors doesn't make it a monopoly.

/- Razorfold said,

Your definition of monopoly is flawed.

Microsoft is not a monopoly because competition exists. Theres linux, theres unix, theres mac and theres windows.

In the office segment, theres openoffice, theres staroffice etc

In the games segment, theres a billion competitiors

etc etc etc

Just because windows has a much higher market share than any of its competitors doesn't make it a monopoly.

Today, we've got a different situation. But blame the judge Thomas Penfield Jackson in the antitrust case against MS years ago. His findings of fact were deemed valid at the time and have stood to this day.

It was the court's definition regarding MS, not mine. And it was also the court's definition about Apple in more recent times, not mine.

I don't subscribe to any particular definition of monopoly. It's whatever the courts have decided.

Have you ever thought that maybe the courts could be wrong? This would be a pretty messed up world if we all formed our opinions based solely on court findings...

JonathanMarston said,
Have you ever thought that maybe the courts could be wrong? This would be a pretty messed up world if we all formed our opinions based solely on court findings...

I'm not qualified to form an opinion about that. It's one thing to ask for legislation in a certain area. It's one thing to have them correct real injustices that touch on human rights and freedoms.

It's an entirely different matter to understand an area of civil law in which a decision was arrived at through due process.

Most of Microsoft's opportunities to appeal the matter have been exhausted. If there was any error in judgment or wrongdoing it would have been corrected. And there were a few minor things (major to MS) that were corrected on appeal. It could have been much, much worse.

And we could certainly argue with more than a little confidence that were it not for the ruling(s) against MS back then, we wouldn't have the rich software environment we enjoy today.

Of course, if you want them to redefine or reform antitrust law, that's a good platform from which to start. But you'll be up against plenty of evidence supporting the reasons for antitrust law existing the way it does today.

LTD said,
I'm not qualified to form an opinion about that. It's one thing to ask for legislation in a certain area. It's one thing to have them correct real injustices that touch on human rights and freedoms.

It's an entirely different matter to understand an area of civil law in which a decision was arrived at through due process.

Most of Microsoft's opportunities to appeal the matter have been exhausted. If there was any error in judgment or wrongdoing it would have been corrected. And there were a few minor things (major to MS) that were corrected on appeal. It could have been much, much worse.

And we could certainly argue with more than a little confidence that were it not for the ruling(s) against MS back then, we wouldn't have the rich software environment we enjoy today.

Of course, if you want them to redefine or reform antitrust law, that's a good platform from which to start. But you'll be up against plenty of evidence supporting the reasons for antitrust law existing the way it does today.


By your qualifications than I guess Martin Luther King Jr was not qualified to question the "separate but equal" ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States.

Now for Microsoft, it was more true then, but like most things in government, it became politics, especially with the EU.

There can be no comparison between fundamental human rights/civil liberties and antitrust.

And if you're going to start making those comparisons then there is no point in continuing the discussion.

The very spirit of competition law/antitrust law is in keeping with the public good and the pursuit of fair business practices, protecting the interests of consumers and ensuring that entrepreneurs have an opportunity to compete in the market economy. If a dispute should arise it is judged according to the ideals of this framework.

"Separate but equal" was little better than institutionalized racism, that by its very nature was at the outset already objectionable. Plessy v. Ferguson at the time was a clear setback in terms of civil liberties and by its very spirit was unconstitutional, regardless of pubic ignorance of that at the time.

Repeal our antitrust laws and you're asking for trouble. Even if you are of the mind that it is wrong to hold these laws over Microsoft's head so long after the case was over and done with, don't forget that they not only abused their monopoly, but were found to be in non-compliance with competition laws elsewhere. All the TC stated was that it would examine the situation more closely with Windows 7.


Anything in Windows 7 that promotes MS online services and protocols/standards/search engines/cloud services/security services over that of competitors must be removed from the OS and offered only as an OPTIONAL feature. This puts MS on an even playing field.

When MS is no longer a monopoly then it can be treated like other companies. With a ~90% share of the desktop market, it cannot be treated like companies that have no OS of their own or means to promote their services on the desktop.

I hope the TC is smart enough to realize this. I also hope they can't be bribed by MS's numerous lobbyists.

toadeater said,
Anything in Windows 7 that promotes MS online services and protocols/standards/search engines/cloud services/security services over that of competitors must be removed from the OS and offered only as an OPTIONAL feature. This puts MS on an even playing field.

When MS is no longer a monopoly then it can be treated like other companies. With a ~90% share of the desktop market, it cannot be treated like companies that have no OS of their own or means to promote their services on the desktop.

I hope the TC is smart enough to realize this. I also hope they can't be bribed by MS's numerous lobbyists.


So, in your opinion, once a company is succesful it should be punished for being succesful? Dangerous assumption imho

The iPhone has a monopoly on the smartphone market. You can only install apps they approve but they arn't forced under anti compitition laws to opent the platform up more. Windows you can install anything but they are the bad guys

LTD said,
That's what was said last year. And the year before, and the year before that . . .

There is already at the very least plenty of Persuasive (in dicta) Precedent in Apple's favour. And this goes back years. So far, Apple has not met the legal standards for a monopoly, much less met any legal standards that qualifies it as an abuser of a monopoly. No matter how much some of us like to think or assume it does.


SUMMARY: "ZOMG Pleaz don't sue my Apple, I wantz my Safari!!!"

McDave said,
The iPhone has a monopoly on the smartphone market. You can only install apps they approve but they arn't forced under anti compitition laws to opent the platform up more. Windows you can install anything but they are the bad guys

I think you're getting a bit mixed up with what a "monopoly" actually is. And that's only half the story, since abuses of monopoly also comes into play.

McDave said,
The iPhone has a monopoly on the smartphone market. You can only install apps they approve but they arn't forced under anti compitition laws to opent the platform up more. Windows you can install anything but they are the bad guys


The iPhone does not have a monopoly. Monopoly status is (mostly) determined by marketshare. The iPhone doesn't have near as large a market share in the smart phone industry as Windows does in the desktop OS industry.

As I understand, it is actually quite legal to be in a monopoly position as long as that position isn't abused. Examples of abuse would be to gouge the consumer through exhorbitant prices, lower prices to the point where you are accepting a loss simply to stomp out competition, or to use your monopoly in one market to increase your position in other markets.

I agree that Microsoft's large marketshare in the desktop OS space qualifies them as a monopoly (though that status is becoming more and more questionable), and they need to be monitored more closely than other companies.

Where I disagree with the courts is in what constitutes abuse of power as a monopoly in the desktop OS market. There are certain features that are vital to a functioning OS - web browsers being one of them. Backup, file sharing, media player, e-mail client, ftp client - these are all examples of utilities that _are_ part of the OS, and should not be viewed as separate markets. Forcing Microsoft to remove such components ends up only hurting the market by crippling the most widely used product - and in the case of a desktop operating system used by hundreds of millions of home and business users, crippling said OS could in turn hurt other markets.

It's the job of the legal system to preserve a fair market. This most likely means putting more limits on a company with monopoly positions than those without, but the courts abusing their power through unfair fines and restrictions for a company that is in a monopoly position is just as bad for the the market (and the consumer) as an abusive monopoly power.

My comment above to LTD was sparked by his apparent unwillingness to even discuss any matter relating to MS' or Apple's legal dealings. He seems completely content to put all his faith in our legal systems and end the discussion before it has even started.

Here's what you're all missing: Whether or not Microsoft, Apple, or any other company has a "monopoly" is IRRELEVANT. Apple pulls more stunts than Microsoft and gets away with it. A good example is that both Windows and OS X include bundled media players and web browsers. No one cares if Apple does it but if Microsoft does they have to deal with all this legal BS.

The principles of bundling a web browser and/or media player with an OS are exactly the same in both cases but somehow Apple slips under any scrutiny.

Microsoft is constantly under the microscope and it's time that Apple and others are subjected to the same legal analysis when they do the same thing that Microsoft gets criticized for, regardless of how small their market share may be.

C_Guy said,
The principles of bundling a web browser and/or media player with an OS are exactly the same in both cases but somehow Apple slips under any scrutiny.

Microsoft is constantly under the microscope and it's time that Apple and others are subjected to the same legal analysis when they do the same thing that Microsoft gets criticized for, regardless of how small their market share may be.

Which fits in with my point above - the courts' view of what is abuse of monopoly in the OS market is what's incorrect. Microsoft bundling a web browser or media player or whatever it happens to be is *not* a case of abusing power since *all* operating systems do so.

Programs like web browsers fall into the category of after-market. Installing FireFox on Windows is much like installing an after-market head unit in a car. Nobody complains that Toyota is limiting the consumer's choice in car audio equipment by including a CD player with the purchase of a Camry...

JonathanMarston said,
Which fits in with my point above - the courts' view of what is abuse of monopoly in the OS market is what's incorrect. Microsoft bundling a web browser or media player or whatever it happens to be is *not* a case of abusing power since *all* operating systems do so.

Programs like web browsers fall into the category of after-market. Installing FireFox on Windows is much like installing an after-market head unit in a car. Nobody complains that Toyota is limiting the consumer's choice in car audio equipment by including a CD player with the purchase of a Camry...

You bring up a very good point there. I think this is the reason so many are upset with the whole EU thing to begin with. It doesn't make sense to have key components to an OS removed simply because Microsoft is so big. It's not "abuse", it's simply what every operating system has...