A row has erupted between Microsoft and its OEMs after the software giant told IBM it could no longer use a graphic software shell during the Windows 95 start-up process. Licensing provisions in the new contract have attracted the attention of the US Justice Department, which has kept a watching brief on Microsoft?s activities for the last two year.
During the course of this year, Microsoft has told its different customers that they can no longer insert code when Windows 95 starts, according to a spokesperson.
She said: ?This came as a result of research earlier this year which asked customers what they wanted to happen when Windows boots up. Microsoft did the survey in January. The results showed that people do not want OEM shells, they just want to boot up.?
That has not pleased IBM. Two months ago it launched its latest range of Aptiva consumer PCs. UK managing director Mike Lunch said then that it had designed the shell to help users navigate around their PC systems without having to necessarily understand the complexities of Windows 95.
The clause in the Microsoft contract with OEMs does not just apply to PCs, however. It also covers the Internet-enabled Active Desktop, which the 'Wall Street Journal' said will arrive during the course of next year and will look like a TV screen. That is intended to compete with Netscape?s Constellation front end.
The Justice Department is now investigating Microsoft?s activities after a Californian lawyer sent it a copy of the rewritten licenses. It is not only IBM which makes graphical front ends for PCs. The practice is common with companies selling PCs to home users.
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