Competitors, OEMs take issue with latest XP patch

ProComp, a collection of companies and trade groups concerned with eliminating anti-competitive practices in the industry, has written a 30-page letter to the US Department of Justice loudly complaining about the recent release of Service Pack 1 for Windows XP and Service Pack 3 for Windows 2000 Professional.

At the heart of the letter is the charge that Microsoft has avoided complying with the rulings handed down in the DoJ's case against the software giant over a year ago. A crucial part of the pack is the Set Program Access and Defaults utility, which is meant to give end users more control over what browsers and media players they can utilise. ProComp argues that its inclusion in the Service Pack, rather than as a standalone download, is obstructive and that the utility itself is counter-intuitive.

ProComp's argument is that the size of the Pack alone, at 30MB for a single user and over 130MB for a network installation, will ensure that few end users make use of it. Further, although the Pack is available on a CD, ProComp deems the cost of $US10.95 to be a blatant revenue raiser.

The utility itself, ProComp went on to say, is poorly designed, inadequately supported by the Windows Help system, and simply uninformative. The letter states that aside from the problems with the utility itself, the Pack is also prone to cause many new OS issues. This complexity is reported to be keeping OEMs from installing it on systems before shipping, further denying the fix (required by law as ProComp point out) to end users.

On the local front, however, most OEMs are not finding the Pack too complex or problematic, but have instead either not had the Pack delivered to them yet, or are simply not concerned about it at this stage. The managing director of one systems integrator interviewed by ARN said that he sees little value for customers in loading the Service Pack on their machines, so "we will get around to it when we get a chance".

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