Windows 7 to be 'thoroughly' tested by antitrust regulators

Windows 7 will be tested more thoroughly by antitrust regulators than any other version of the operating system.

Technical advisers to the antitrust regulators who monitor Microsoft's compliance with a 2002 antitrust settlement will test Windows 7 "more thoroughly" than earlier versions of the operating system, according to a recently-released status report filed with the federal judge watching over the company.

The three-member panel of computer experts that works for state antitrust officials has had a copy of Windows 7 since at least last March, but in December 2008, Microsoft delivered additional documentation to the Technical Committee.

In the report , submitted last Wednesday to U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, antitrust officials with the Department of Justice, 17 states and the District of Columbia said that Microsoft had given notice that "changes to the protocols in Windows 7" required 30 new and 87 revised technical documents.

Microsoft has been under a microscope since it struck a deal in 2002 that required the company to document communication protocols so that other developers, competitors included, can craft software that works smoothly with Windows clients and servers. The decree also set up the technical committee and forced Microsoft and state and federal antitrust officials to deliver regular reports to Kollar-Kotelly.

The newest report spelled out changes the committee, dubbed "TC" by the court, will make to test Windows 7, the successor to Vista.

"In light of the number of new documents that need to be reviewed, the TC is going to shift its focus to direct review of the documents by the TC's engineers as the most efficient method of identifying issues with the documentation," read the status report. "The revised strategy will enable the TC to review the new Windows 7 and system documents more thoroughly than it would otherwise, which is particularly desirable given the significance of these new documents to the project as a whole."

Originally, the consent decree Microsoft signed was to expire in November 2007. Several states objected, however, and after months of legal back-and-forth, Kollar-Kotelly in January 2008 extended her oversight by another two years, to Nov. 12, 2009.

Microsoft is also facing renewed scrutiny from the European Union, which two weeks ago filed preliminary charges against the company, accusing it of violating antitrust laws since 1996 by bundling the Internet Explorer (IE) browser with Windows.

The European Union's antitrust agency may force Microsoft to include rival browsers in Windows.

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Gregg Keizer

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