Windows Vista Falls Under Antitrust Scrutiny

This news shouldn't be surprising. Computer makers have complained to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the European Union (EU) that Microsoft's upcoming Windows Vista OS might violate antitrust laws. The complaints are centered on Vista's first boot experience, which is typically referred to as the out-of-box experience (OOBE). PC makers say Vista's OOBE named Welcome Center won't give them the customization options they require.

On Friday, EU antitrust regulators confirmed that the European Commission (EC) was monitoring these complaints. But the EC says it hasn't yet issued a formal complaint.

"Approaches are being made about Vista by US and non US companies," Philip Lowe, the top civil servant in the EC competition department said Friday. "Several companies have expressed their concerns to the commission concerning Microsoft s Vista operating system."

In the United States regulators at the DOJ last week said that it has received complaints about Vista, although the DOJ, like the EU refused to report which companies had complained. Microsoft says it's confident that Vista doesn't violate US or EU antitrust laws or violate the company's US antitrust settlement. More to the point, the company reports that it shared the design of Vista's Welcome Center with the top 20 PC makers and few expressed any concerns.

Stung by iPod Success Gates Promises Better Competition 

On Friday, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said that his company wasn't satisfied with the 20 percent of the digital music market that Microsoft and its partners currently own. He promises that Microsoft will rebound against Apple Computer's iPod, which currently dominates that market.

"Apple has done a fantastic job with the iPod," Gates said during a talk Friday with minority students. "But I don't think what's out on the market today is the final answer. Between us and our partners you can expect some pretty hot products coming out over the next few years."

Gates complimented Apple's success with the iTunes Music Store, which currently offers songs that play only on the iPod. However, Gates hinted that his company was working with its hardware and services partners to offer a level of integration and ease of use that only Apple currently offers to consumers.

According to reports, Microsoft is working on its own iPod competitor. However, I can confirm rumors that the software giant isn't sure whether it will actually sell the device or simply use it as an example of what's possible for its partners. On Friday, Gates said nothing about a Microsoft device but instead reiterated his company's current strategy, which is to let its hardware partners create Windows compatible devices.