Even though a ruling on the U.S. government's antitrust case against Microsoft is still months away, the software giant is showing signs of loosening its grip on the way PC makers customise their personal computers, a practice that represents one of the central anti-competitive charges facing the company.
Gateway has introduced a marketing campaign that enables consumers to purchase computers that can be customised to run a variety of Internet software and even deliver the PC user directly into Gateway's own Internet service upon booting up the machine.
Gateway's YourWare campaign enables PC buyers to choose between Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser and Netscape's Navigator. It was apparently launched with the approval of Microsoft which altered its contract with Gateway to allow the personal computer maker to customise PCs to allow users to reach Gateway's Web site from an icon stored on the start-up screen, according to an article in The New York Times.
In the past, Microsoft insisted that PC makers agree to licensing contracts that place tight restrictions on any alterations to the boot-up sequence or start-up screen of the Windows operating system. Some analysts suggested Microsoft's willingness to allow Gateway to customise its PCs is an effort to demonstrate to the government that the software giant is willing to voluntarily loosen its control on PC makers.
At time of going to press, ZDNet UK News was waiting for UK comment from Microsoft.