Microsoft to Make Minor Changes to Ease Access to Rival Browsers

Friday April 4th, 2003

A Bloomberg article at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review—owned reports that Microsoft have agreed to make it easier for Windows XP users to set their default browser and other middleware. At the request of the US Department of Justice, Microsoft will make a few minor alterations to the changes they implemented as part of their antitrust settlement last year, including moving the Set Program Access and Defaults icon to a more promient location on the Start menu and producing a tutorial that will explain how to use the feature.

The Set Program Access and Defaults Control Panel applet was introduced as part of the settlement Microsoft made with the DOJ, which was approved by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly last November. In that settlement, the software giant agreed to update Windows to make it simpler for users to select their preferred browser, mail client, media player, instant messaging application and Java virtual machine. These updates shipped with Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 and Windows XP Service Pack 1. Microsoft argues that these changes fully satisified the terms of the original settlement but have agreed to "go the extra mile" anyway. ProComp's Mike Pettit says the revisions "will not do a thing to meaningfully restore competition." Thanks to Adam Hauner for the link.

#13 Re: Microsoft *wants* it to be this hard

by alderete

Wednesday April 16th, 2003 11:51 AM

You are replying to this message

<em>A much bigger problem is that the control panel is unnecessarily difficult to use in the first place. All it needs is an option menu for each function (browser, mailer, media player, etc), with each menu containing the installed programs which have registered themselves as providing that function. That's it.</em>

There's a perfect example of how to do it right in the Mac OS X Internet preference pane. And, golly, it's not as though Microsoft doesn't have a long history of stealing good ideas from Apple.

But that would assume that Microsoft <em>wanted</em> to allow people to choose their preferred applications. Obviously, Microsoft doesn't want people switching off of their "blessed" products, so they've made it really hard to figure out how to do it.

You would think that someone as smart as a Federal judge would realize that this is a perfect example of Microsoft implementing the letter of the settlement, while flipping the bird to the spirit. But Microsoft paid a lot of money to get the election outcome they wanted, and it's turned out to be a terrific investment...