DailyTech reports Microsoft's next operating system is being reviewed by the federal government:
With Windows 7 set to likely launch holiday 2009 (based on Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer's public remarks), Microsoft handed over the code and copies of Windows 7 in its current state to Department of Justice Technical Committee (TC) members to comb for possible antitrust violations.
The TC is the result of a long legal battle between Microsoft and smaller competitors in various fields, which all allege that Microsoft tries to write its Windows code in such a way to exclude them by defaulting to Microsoft applications. The U.S. government agreed that such anticompetitive antitrust violations were occurring and in November 2001, Microsoft finally agreed to settle with the U.S. government and face oversight.
With the final judgment a year later, Microsoft was forced to deal with inspectors during the development of Windows Vista. The inspection, which now is going on with the new OS focused on four key middleware categories -- e-mail, instant messaging, media playback and web browsing.
The effects on Microsoft can easily be speculated. While it might have been coincidence, when inspections started between 2004 and 2005, Microsoft made little progress on Internet Explorer, while Mozilla released Firefox and Thunderbird. Some speculate that this was due to Microsoft trying to remove Windows code that defaults services to IE and Outlook, or trying to make such code more subtle.
Meanwhile in the messaging sector, Microsoft abandoned Windows Messenger altogether, splitting it into MSN Messenger for private users and Office Communicator for business users. Both programs were much less attached to Windows than their predecessor.