SP1 For Windows XP To Include Antitrust Tweaks
by Arie Slob
Hello Windows users,
Beta testing of Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Windows XP is expected to start within the next few weeks. SP1 will not only include bug fixes, security updates and new technologies, but also a number of changes which - according to Microsoft executives - will make Microsoft comply with a settlement that was agreed upon with the Justice Department and nine states back in November last year. Nine other states and the District of Columbia are continuing with the antitrust litigation, so the settlement hasn't been approved yet.
Under the settlement, Microsoft must allow consumers or PC makers to hide user access to so-called middleware: Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Windows Media Player, Microsoft's Java Virtual Machine and Windows Messenger.
The language used in the settlement is: "enable or remove access to each Microsoft Middleware Product." So, Microsoft doesn't have to remove any middleware products, they just have to be hidden from the end user. This means simply that any Start menu, desktop, or taskbar icons to those applications will be removed, leaving the applications themselves on the system where they have always been.
When you install SP1, a new entry will be added to the Start menu and to the Add or Remove Programs applet in Control Panel called Set Program Access and Defaults. This control will offer four different choices:
- Computer Manufacturer Configuration
- Microsoft Windows
Computer Manufacturer Configuration
This option won't have any impact on existing users. It is designed to restore the middleware configuration back to the default setting offered by the PC manufacturer. So for example, if a PC manufacturer has a deal with AOL, choosing this configuration could hide Internet Explorer, and set AOL as the default Web browser.
This option would use all Microsoft's middleware, but according to comments made by Jim Cullinan, lead project manager for Windows XP, it will not hide any other (non-Microsoft) applications.
This option is for the die-hard anti-MS crowd (sorry, couldn't resist)... It will hide all Microsoft middleware.
With this option you can choose your own defaults. All middleware can be selected/deselected as you see fit.
According to Microsoft, 90 percent of pirated Windows XP installations use a single volume license key stolen from a large Microsoft customer. Microsoft will make it impossible for people using this key to install SP1 or any future updates available from the Windows Update Web site.
From what little information is available it seems that Microsoft isn't going to "expire" (disable) Windows XP installations using this key, but people using it won't be able to get any future updates.
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