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RealTime IT News

Microsoft, Intel Losing Grip on PC World (cont.)

Fight continues

While PC makers stretch their wings, Microsoft disputes the Justice Department's claim that PC makers lack control over the PC screens. True, they must leave a handful of Microsoft-selected icons on the Windows screen so that Windows users have a consistent experience, it says. Beyond that, the screen is theirs. "They . . . can add all the icons that would fit on the 80% of the screen that is left," says Bob Herbold, Microsoft chief operating officer.

PC makers can put the icons of other software makers, including Microsoft competitors such as Corel and Netscape, on the Windows desktop screen. Also allowed: Their PC company icons that link to their online stores and technical-support sites. They can use the background of the Windows desktop for logos. They can put an Internet search box on the Windows desktop. Consumers can organize their desktop almost any way they want.

PC makers cannot, however, put an icon on the Windows desktop screen linking consumers to an Amazon.com or CDnow. They can on subsequent screens, but PC makers want an earlier crack at directing the consumer.

As e-commerce grows and PC prices drop, look for more PC makers to grab more of the action. "The profit-pool opportunity is shifting and expanding. There is some opportunity for us and I think you will see us take advantage of it," CEO Dell says.

By Julie Schmit, USA TODAY

Contributing: Doug Levy