Microsoft has settled its differences with the European Commission and South Korea, meaning that Windows Vista is on track for worldwide release to volume license business customers in November and for consumers in January 2007.
The company has been talking to the Korea Fair Trade Commission as well as the EC and European Union Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes since the spring of 2005.
It made changes to Vista in the spring and summer following initial guidance from Kroes, Mary Snapp, a vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., told eWEEK Oct. 13.
“We have taken guidance from the European Commission and have been sharing product details with them since the spring of 2005 and have made changes in Vista to reflect that feedback. We understand that they do not give a formal green light and we have not asked them for one. We believe we are now in compliance with the laws of the European Union,” she said.
After asking for and reviewing detailed information about multiple aspects of the product over the course of the summer, the Commission gave Microsoft further guidance in September, suggesting that it make additional changes in the areas of search, fixed document formats and security.
With regard to search, Microsoft has made changes that let computer users who are upgrading Windows XP to Internet Explorer 7, due for release in October, set the default Web search to a provider of their choice.
Microsoft has also agreed to submit a new fixed-layout document format, the XML Paper Specification, to a standards-setting organization, and to also revise the licensing terms on which the specification is made available to other software developers.
“We have been working on this format for some time now and we are considering several standards organizations to which we may submit this document imaging format, but no decision has been made in this regard as yet. But we are prepared to move forward quite quickly, as the specification is in a complete enough state for that,” Snapp said.
Microsoft is also trying to make the licensing terms for the XML Paper specification consistent with those for the Open Office XML format, she said.
On the security front, “We have committed to [creating] a new set of APIs that will enable third-party security products to access the Windows kernel in a secure manner. We are also creating a new set of APIs to ensure that Windows Security Center will not send an alert to a computer user when an alternative, competing security console is installed on the PC and is sending the same alert instead,” Snapp said.
While Microsoft had decided to make these three specific changes during the last three months, implementing them from an engineering perspective will not delay the Vista ship date, she said, adding that the company was “more than happy” to continue working with and talking to the Commission going forward.
Microsoft has also incorporated changes to Windows Vista in Korea to comply with its legal obligations there, Snapp said, but was unable to immediately give more specific information about that.
Microsoft has also been working closely with the U.S. Department of Justice and taking guidance from the Technical Committee since the earliest days of Vista, Snapp said.
“They have seen betas and have been reviewing source code and providing feedback to us as well. We have had very good dialogue with them,” she said.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement that the company was “excited to bring the security enhancements and innovative new features of Windows Vista to our customers and partners around the world.”
CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association), headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., welcomed the news that Microsoft would ship Vista to Europe without regional modifications.
“This is great news for consumers and ICT companies alike. The continuous dialogue between Microsoft and European regulators over the last months will allow the company to deliver the most innovative product possible. Developing software is always a high-risk business, in the face of market and technological uncertainties,” said Mike Wendy, CompTIAs media relations director.
The Commissions willingness to engage in productive dialogue had helped mitigate the additional risk of regulatory uncertainty, he said.