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Feds Order Microsoft to Fix Music Browser Override

Microsoft on Thursday agreed to make a tweak to the Windows XP operation system to change the way a user's Web browser is launched by the built-in 'Shop for Music Online' feature.

The U.S. Justice Department said Microsoft's overriding of an end-user's default Web browser to launch its own Internet Explorer was a violation of the final judgment in the Windows antitrust settlement.

The change is expected to be available as a download to consumers in February or March through Microsoft's 'Windows Update' feature.

"The Department concluded that the invocation of Internet Explorer by the 'Shop for Music Online' feature violated (a section) of the Final Judgment. Without necessarily agreeing with the Department's position, Microsoft has agreed to remove the override of the user's default browser," the Justice Department said in a statement.

It said the removal of the browser override resolves the its concerns about what it called a "potential consent decree violation."

"Regardless of the reason for the change, the Department is pleased with the removal of the override and firmly believes that it is the appropriate outcome."

The DoJ, which has been investigating the browser override issue for a few months, said the antitrust settlement requires Microsoft to allow end users and OEMs to "set a default for Windows to launch a non-Microsoft middleware product, such as a web browser, in place of Microsoft's corresponding middleware product."

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

In October, Microsoft denied the design of the feature was in violation of the antitrust agreement.

"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 told internetnews.com at the time.