Microsoft’s previous licensing agreement prohibited computer manufacturers from changing the desktop in any way.
Manufacturers will now be allowed to remove icons and add new ones from other companies like AOL/Time Warner, the maker of the Netscape Web browser, or RealNetworks.
A recent ruling had stated that Microsoft holds a monopoly in personal computer operating systems and that their licensing agreements were against the law.
A result of court rulings
Microsoft said their decision, announced today, to increase flexibility would not supplant settlement discussions, but that they wanted to take immediate steps in light of the court’s ruling.
“We recognize that some provisions in our existing Windows licenses have been ruled improper by the court, so we are providing computer manufacturers with greater flexibility,” Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, said in a statement.
The company said the changes would not affect an October 25 launch date of their latest operating system, Windows XP.
Microsoft’s earlier licensing agreements allowed manufacturers to add icons such as to Netscape Navigator, but prohibited them from removing Microsoft icons such as the one for Internet Explorer. As a result, most manufacturers did not add the additional icon.
The Justice Department and 17 states have sued Microsoft for antitrust violations. They recommended the software giant be split up to allow for more market competition. Although an appeals court later reversed the order to break up the company, the government is considering an appeal.