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How MS tried to keep the lid on its OEM customers

Mid-98 the wonderful new flexible MS didn't seem that flexible at all...

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MS on Trial In his written testimony and in court this week, Microsoft OEM chief Joachim Kempin argues that Microsoft is willing to be flexible over the software its OEM customers can install. The permission to modify the Windows 98 startup sequence granted to seven large OEMs in the first half of last year will also be granted to other OEMs on application. We covered this a little this morning (MS demo breaches own licence) - but the story from the first half of 1998 (just) is a little different. A short email exchange from late May early June lists five OEMs who are allowed to implement "an alternate first boot process." These are Packard Bell, Acer, Hewlett-Packard, Gateway and IBM. The list is from one Pete Peter, who stresses: "Remember this process is only to be offered on an exceptional basis to those OEMs that cannot utilise the registration and/or referral server process as delivered [in Windows 98]." Clearly general permission is not available at this point. The first break with Microsoft's restrictions had been offered to Gateway, in consideration of the fact that it was running its own ISP service. This clearly wouldn't operate sensibly via MS' referral server system, although sense doesn't necessarily change minds at Redmond. The other OEMs had climbed onto the bandwagon, and around about this time Dell, which hadn't yet, was complaining about being penalised for being a 'good citizen.' Kurt Kolb forwards Peter's message to Kempin, adding: "Reports coming in that other OEMs are now asking for the additional Windows Experience provisions we offered the OEMs below." He suggests permissions be granted "on a case-by-case basis." Kempin, who you'll recall has this week been saying this flexibility is available to all and sundry, responds: "I agree - no flood gate please, this needs careful monitoring knowing that some might use this to abuse it." ® Complete Register trial coverage

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