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MS contract saves world from Compaq Harry Potter PC

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Microsoft's OEM agreements have a positive side after all, apparently. In antitrust trial testimony AOL VP John Borthwick reveals that they saved us from several varieties of computers from hell, including a nightmarish-sounding "Harry Potter PC."

That of course isn't quite how he put it. Borthwick was arguing infavour of the States' proposal that OEMs be allowed to license and customise versions of Windows. This, he said, would facilitate increased diversity in the PC market, spawning a Lego computer for kids (he showed the court a prototype), sports PCs and music PCs for students.

And the Harry Potter PC? This could have existed, if Compaq had its way. The company had proposed this specially designed piece of, er, hardware to AOL, which has rights to the movie and goodness knows what else Potter-related. AOL declined, however, on the basis that Compaq's MS licence didn't allow it to make more than "superficial changes," so there was not "a compelling propisition to promote Harry Potter." MS attorney Richard Pepperman observed that widescale customisation would lead to "crummy" versions of Windows, and does he not perhaps have some kind of a point here, dear reader? ®

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