Battle Begins Over Vista Setup Screens

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Ars reports that the U.S. Department of Justice has received a complaint from a company, likely HP, that Microsoft is not complying with earlier antitrust rulings in regards to the Windows Vista setup process.

From the latest DoJ status report:

Plaintiffs, with the assistance of the TC and Mr. Hunt, continue to monitor developments regarding Windows Vista, Microsoft’s successor to the Windows XP operating system, and Internet Explorer 7, to assure compliance with the Final Judgments. This includes extensive testing by the TC of developmental builds of these products.

Plaintiffs have received a complaint regarding the ability of OEM’s to customize the first-boot experience in Vista, and in particular concerning the Welcome Center, a new interface that presents the user with various setup options and commercial offers (presented by Microsoft and OEMs) at the end of the initial out-of-the-box experience. Plaintiffs are also talking with several industry members who have expressed additional concerns regarding aspects of Windows Vista. While we have not reached any conclusion as to the merits of these complaints, Plaintiffs continue to gather information and monitor the situation. Plaintiffs will report to Microsoft and the Court if they determine that these issues raise concerns under the Final Judgments.

Ars says:

OEMs would like to see a first-time setup process that allows them to customize screens in order to promote brand image and sell additional products such as anti-virus subscriptions, support contracts, and more. Microsoft is expected to use the setup process to promote services such as Windows OneCare.

Okay, its one thing for Microsoft to force its own products on new installations. Its another thing about marketing them. To suggest that Microsoft cannot brand its own products and market its other products anywhere is beyond the scope of the antitrust ruling. This isn’t Europe, right?

HP should shelve its complaint and try to work with Microsoft.

Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

Visit the InsideGoogle blog.

Battle Begins Over Vista Setup Screens
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