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Changes Coming in Vista

October 14, 2006|From the Associated Press

BRUSSELS — Microsoft Corp. is making several key changes to its forthcoming Windows Vista operating system in an attempt to soothe European antitrust worries, while keeping its worldwide distribution plans on schedule.

Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, said Friday that the company had agreed to change how people can set their preferred search service if they upgrade to Microsoft's new Internet Explorer browser. The Redmond, Wash.-based company also has tweaked Vista's security system to address concerns that the system was favoring Microsoft's products over competing security offerings.

In addition, the company plans to have an international standards organization review a controversial new file format that will be included in Windows and the company's Office business suite. He said that was a step toward making the format available for other companies to license.

Even with the changes, which will be included in all versions the company ships worldwide, Microsoft said it still planned to deliver the long-delayed Vista to large businesses in November and small businesses and personal computer users in January.

The announcement follows many testy exchanges between Microsoft and European regulators, who are still embroiled in a long-running antitrust dispute over the current version of Windows.

The EU antitrust office, which warned this spring that it had concerns about the new Windows software, refused to back Microsoft's optimism that European concerns had been addressed.

"The jury is out," EU spokesman Jonathan Todd said. "It is up to Microsoft to shoulder its own responsibility to ensure full compliance with competition rules." The commission "will closely monitor the effects on the market and in particular examine any complaints," he said.

Vista will be the first major upgrade to Microsoft's flagship operating system since Windows XP was released in 2001. It touts a sleeker look, improved security features, better protection against spyware and viruses and more intuitive search tools to help users find saved files.

Shares of Microsoft gained 15 cents Friday to $28.37.

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