A set of consumer and privacy groups railed against the US government this week for not acting to investigate or block the sale of Windows XP, which Microsoft will release tomorrow. Microsoft competitors are backing some of the groups, which have complained that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should have acted against XP when the critics logged their first complaints earlier this summer. The groups are concerned that certain XP features, such as its Passport integration, violate consumers' privacy and US laws.

"This is a critical test of the FTC's ability to protect consumer interests in the online world," said Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), one of the 13 companies that have banded together to criticize the agency's inaction. The companies have filed a complaint with the FTC, which says that it isn't investigating XP or Passport.

Meanwhile, Microsoft says that it has already addressed privacy concerns through a series of key concessions the company made earlier this year regarding Passport. The service will now ask for less personal information at sign-up, use advanced security features for consumer protection, and be open to competitors and other companies. "There's not a whole lot new here except for recycled complaints, and Microsoft has addressed these complaints and continues to address these complaints," a Microsoft spokesperson said.

But Microsoft's detractors aren't convinced, correctly noting that XP badgers users five times to sign up for Passport before the annoying message disappears for good.