This is the sort of thing that happens when the mainstream press tackles a technology issue and I'm rather ashamed that I didn't clarify this simple issue weeks ago. To recap: the DOJ mentioned that hardware manufacturers couldn't modify the Windows 95/8 "screen" that appears when the system first boot up in the lawsuits filed against Microsoft last week. Like a good little newsletter writer, I reported this and left it at that. But I've gotten several emails from people who have gotten new computers with Gateway or Compaq logos all over the startup screen and I myself recently got a new Dell that has the Dell logo on the initial Windows 95 startup screen.
So what's the story? Is it really that hard for computer sellers to get their logo and/or other information in the Windows startup screen?
It turns out that the DOJ isn't talking about the same 'screen' that most of the people on this list think they are. Remember that we're dealing with basically illiterate people here when it comes to computers. The screen they are referring to is really a window: The "Welcome" window that appears when you first boot into Windows. If you're running a newer build of Windows 95, it's probably a "Welcome to IE 4.0" window that will guide you through the new features in Microsoft's latest browser. Windows 98 users see a "Welcome to Windows 98" window that allows them to register the product online, setup an Internet connection, and discover information about Windows 98.
The DOJ is arguing that hardware manufacturers should be able to replace this window with their own program, so Gateway (for example) could make a "Welcome to your Gateway PC" program that would automatically start when you first boot into Windows, and Gateway (in this example) could determine what information goes there. The merits of this plan notwithstanding, it's something I've been meaning to clarify for a while. I get a kick out of watching CNN and the like struggle with the terminology, but this is one instance where I should have done a better job.
Hope this clears that up.