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French Version

The fuss about XP

AS ALWAYS, Microsoft is at the center of controversy in the IT industry.

AS ALWAYS, Microsoft is at the center of controversy in the IT industry. Why? Well, because it insists on infuriating everyone else with its very aggressive push to maintain absolute, unchallenged leadership in operating systems.
Windows XP, Microsoft's new operating system, is set to spark massive legal battles, endless stories in the media and a lot of headaches for Microsoft's competitors.

The reason is the inclusion of specific services in XP that have the potential to lock out competitors such as instant messaging, digital media players, digital photo applications and more.

Regarding instant messaging, Microsoft will include MSN Instant Messenger as a standard component and tie it to all aspects of the operating system, thereby making it much easier and much more convenient to use MSN Messenger instead of Yahoo or ICQ messengers. In other words, Microsoft will be giving their communications software a massive boost, which their competitors do not have the ability to match.

Add to that the new communications protocol called Rendezvous, which Microsoft is introducing in XP. This is a sheer indication of a serious potential for a Microsoft monopoly in video and voice chatting and calling. As for the digital picture application that XP will include, it competes directly with Eastman Kodak's whose future strategy is based on digital photography software. As we all know, the digital camera will replace normal film cameras, and the tools to view, manipulate and print these photographs are going to be a core product in the photography industry.

Instead of buying films, you'll be buying digital photo software. If Kodak doesn't move fast enough, they may find themselves out of their core business! What Microsoft is doing with XP doesn't help.

An old "controversy" will be sparked again with the inclusion of Internet Explorer 6, the latest version of the browser software, which should finish off whatever small percentage remains of Netscape market share.

These are some of the most obvious examples of tools in XP that lock out the competition, but there are many more. A detailed, technical review of the system would require a lot more space than this column can offer. On the other hand, and on a brighter note, Microsoft's introduction of a new operating system is good news for the rest of the industry, as it usually sparks a boom in new PC sales and upgrades to accommodate the demands of a new operating system.

PC makers are anxious to utilize the launch of XP as an opportunity to sell their latest, top-speed Pentium systems, as are memory makers and virtually every other hardware manufacturer of PC-related products.

These manufacturers are concerned about the lawsuits currently being filed against Microsoft, as they may delay the launch of Windows XP, or result in Microsoft having to "re-work" some parts of the system to comply with anti-trust standards in the United States. But, so far it seems that Microsoft is sticking to its guns, with plans to release Windows XP on the scheduled date of October 15, 2001. Also, PC buyers can expect to get Windows XP with every PC shipped after that date.

Apparently, Microsoft is marching on, moving in the direction of more dominance. There's really little anyone can do.

For us users, better operating systems such as Windows XP, with easier-to-use functions and neat tools should be good news; but a healthy competition among software companies is even better news. Only fair competition can guarantee that we will always have a choice of alternatives.

Regrettably, the way Microsoft is planning things will leave us with less choices; and that's, definitely, not good news.

Zeid Nasser
The Star

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