Microsoft backs off on music player contracts

Microsoft changed its position that portable music manufacturers distribute its Media Player software exclusively, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Microsoft Corp. quickly backed off on a demand to portable music player manufacturers that if they chose to include Windows Media Player in software packages, only that program could be included, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reported Thursday in its update on the company's compliance with its antitrust settlement.

After a complaint was filed, Microsoft circulated a final draft of the specification 10 days later reversing course, saying that distribution of its Media Player was not exclusive if companies wanted to participate in its program. The DOJ said it was "unfortunate" that the former draft contained the exclusivity provision, but said it would drop further action against the company.

The company that complained is not identified in the report. Microsoft reached a settlement with the DOJ in 2002, and a report is filed every six months detailing the company's progress in complying with the agreement.

Last year, the European Commission, the European Union's executive body, ordered that Microsoft sell a version of Windows XP without its Media Player software, saying the company had an unfair advantage over other companies that offer media players.

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