US Report: Microsoft offers fix to RealNetworks' 'bug'

Microsoft has fired a new volley in its ongoing war with Real Networks.

The computer industry's latest 'does so/does not' conflict erupted last week during a much-publicised Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Microsoft's business practices. At that hearing, RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser performed a demonstration that he said showed how Microsoft's Windows Media Player disabled RealPlayer, its competitor from RealNetworks.

The conflict escalated last Friday, when Microsoft and RealNetworks issued contradictory statements regarding just whose media player code contained bugs that broke third-party offerings.

This weekend, Microsoft posted its analysis of the problem, which included a fix for RealPlayer's code. It also posted the text of a letter it sent to RealNetworks executives. In the new paper, Microsoft claims that problems exist not only in the first public beta of G2, RealNetworks' next-generation player, but also in the existing RealPlayer 5.0 product. Glaser had not noted problems with the existing product. It is unusual for one software maker to go so far as to offer a work-around for an alleged bug in a rival's product.

RealNetworks has not responded to Microsoft's latest charges. Last week, company officials said RealNetworks stood behind its CEO Rob Glaser's charges that Microsoft intentionally broke compatibility with RealNetworks' G2 product.

Today, a company spokeswoman said downloads of G2 from RealNetworks' Web site had "increased slightly, but not substantially" since Glaser's testimony and the resulting controversy. The spokeswoman did not offer any information on RealNetworks' intended next step in the war of the players.