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DOJ Calls MS on XP Music Feature

A default link in the "My Music" folder within Windows XP could land Microsoft in hot water with the Department of Justice.

In a joint status report on Microsoft's compliance with the Windows antitrust settlement, the U.S. Justice Department warned that the "Shop for Music Online" feature that automatically loads the Internet Explorer browser on XP systems could amount to a violation of the agreement.

"Plaintiffs and Microsoft have conferred extensively on this issue, and the Technical Committee has also been engaged on the issue. If Plaintiffs and Microsoft are unable to resolve this issue, the parties may seek assistance from the Court," according to the court document, filed jointly by federal and state regulators and Microsoft.

According to the U.S. Justice Department and more than a dozen state attorneys general, the concern surrounds the fact that the "Shop for Music Online" link invokes Microsoft's market-leading Internet Explorer even if it is not the default browser on a user's system.

The Department of Justice argues that this "may be inconsistent" with the Windows antitrust settlement.

The Windows XP "Shop for Music Online" feature directs users to Microsoft e-commerce partners hawking sales of CDs.

Microsoft denied the design of the feature was in violation of the antitrust agreement which was inked in November 2001 to impose "a broad range of restrictions" to stop the heavyweight firm from stifling competition in the software market.

"The use of Internet Explorer by the 'Shop for Music Online' link is consistent with design rules established [in the consent agreement]. We will continue to work with the government to address any concerns," a Microsoft spokesperson said.