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Office Depot: Windows XP Apps Must Be Microsoft-Approved 741

An anonymous reader writes "According to an article at The Inquirer, by May 30th Office Depot will only be carrying computer products that have been certified by Microsoft and carry the 'Designed for Windows XP' logo. This may be an initial glimpse at how Microsoft could introduce Digital Restrictions Management by ensuring all retail hardware and software products are approved by Redmond."
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Office Depot: Windows XP Apps Must Be Microsoft-Approved

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  • by FreeLinux ( 555387 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:42PM (#5586125)
    But, this is simply a marketing decision. Most of the "lesser" applications, the ones without certification, usually aren't hot sellers at the depot.

    Did you Vote [] for Linux?
    • by Computer! ( 412422 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:47PM (#5586196) Homepage Journal
      From the article:

      Please be aware that Office Depot is immediately requiring all products that connect to a Personal Computer and Notebook Computer must pass these Designed for Windows XP logo requirements to be considered for retail distribution through our stores.

      I have never bought software from an Office Depot, but doesn't this mean that no MacOS or Linux products can be bought or sold there? That's a little alarming.

      • by arkanes ( 521690 ) <> on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:56PM (#5586323) Homepage
        The logo is a scam - many of the apps that carry it, and even MS apps, don't follow the guidelines. There's lots of crap, and some of it is very dodgy - for example, you aren't permitted to have a link to your uninstaller in your start menu folder. There's a bunch of things you can and cannot do in the start menu, actually, along with more intelligent things like accessability support (very subjective, and many apps with the logo don't conform) and using system colors/fonts.
        • by chrisseaton ( 573490 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:09PM (#5586466) Homepage
          I wish everyone would follow the guidelines. Why the hell would you have a link to the uninstall in the start menu? How often do you have to run the uninstaller? Can't you spend all the three seconds to go to the add/remove applet, and have a cleaner menu. Whenever I write an installer, I just put one icon - a shortcut to the main program - at in the Start/Programs folder - so subfolder, so uninstaller. Just the shortcut. I can't see why anything else is nessecary.
          • So you have no secondary programs, internet links, help file links in the startmenu for your program? Now that is what I call sloppy, unhelpfull and just plain ignorant of user needs. I hope I never come across one of your programs.
            • by binner1 ( 516856 ) <> on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:31PM (#5586649) Homepage
              Personally, I always found that each app having its own folder full of links was a) unnecessary for a power user (put links in your help menu), and b) confusing for non-power users.

              A start menu divided by Program Type (graphics, sounds, internet, etc) and then containing just individual programs makes much more sense. The Windows start menu gets out of control too easily...which may have been part of the reasoning behind the rethink that is XP's default?

              To each their own!

            • by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:45PM (#5586758) Homepage Journal
              I guess you're one of those people whose start menu has 3 columns and it takes you 30 seconds to find anything. The first thing I do when I install a program is get rid of all that useless cruft.

              Uninstall icons are stupid since you can do that through "Add/Remove Software". Help files are accessed by F1. The only conceivable icons would be for additional programs, and those are usually unnecessary.

              I can't stand it when a program installs all that garbage. It doesn't help me, it only clutters up my life.

              _And_ it's now the Microsoft standard. Even Microsoft agrees with me, which is a rare occurrance.

          • by Loki_1929 ( 550940 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @09:03PM (#5587735) Journal
            "Why the hell would you have a link to the uninstall in the start menu? How often do you have to run the uninstaller? Can't you spend all the three seconds to go to the add/remove applet, and have a cleaner menu. Whenever I write an installer, I just put one icon - a shortcut to the main program - at in the Start/Programs folder - so subfolder, so uninstaller. Just the shortcut. I can't see why anything else is nessecary."

            That's why I like purchasing your software, I don't have to think for myself.

            Personally, I want the uninstall in the start menu. You asked why; I ask, "why do you care?". There's a point at which you have to decide for whom you're writing the software. If you're writing it for yourself, don't expect to sell it. If you're writing it for your customers, write it how they want it. Your product may have all the lovely little flashy certifications and logos in the world, but if it's garbage, that's what I'm going to tell my customers when they ask about it, and most of my customers trust my judgement.

        • for example, you aren't permitted to have a link to your uninstaller in your start menu folder.

          Thats cool; Im tired of start menu clutter, and they should be registering those things into add/remove programs, just like every other application.

          Im glad they are trying to standardize the install/uninstall process. That is where most problems lie, anyway.

          Does this sound a lot like game consoles to anyone else, with the necessity to be an 'approved app'? Not that its a bad thing to have standards enforced

      • by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:58PM (#5586349)
        "I have never bought software from an Office Depot, but doesn't this mean that no MacOS or Linux products can be bought or sold there? That's a little alarming."

        Is there even a such thing as a Linux app being sold on a store shelf? (pssst, that's partly why Linux isn't exactly ovewhelming people in the desktop world.)

        As for Mac, according to OD's site, the only software they have is MS Office and TurboTax. Yep, Office Depot's really racking up the karma with Slashdot.
      • I think this is the real reason why:

        This change is being implemented due to our on-going pursuite to enhance and simplify our fanatical customer service environment at Office Depot.

        As in, "not our problem."
    • With Good Reason (Score:5, Insightful)

      by burgburgburg ( 574866 ) <<splisken06> <at> <>> on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:10PM (#5586476)
      This is not simply a marketing decision. It isn't even a good business decision (unless Microsoft has promised Office Depot to make up any lost sales of hardware/software, or had threatened to not give them volume discounts unless they did this). This is a monopolistic action by Microsoft through a proxy to completely reign in the marketplace.

      No matter how onerous, capricious or illogical, MS can make any criteria it wants to grant/withhold the "certification". Testified against us? Your program doesn't handle Croation well, you're out! Working on Linux compatibility? Your drivers try to use "reserved" space, you're out!

      • by e2d2 ( 115622 )
        Or maybe they are tired of getting returned merchandise that doesn't work on WinXP. I'd save the conspiracy theories. It might have been a decision to cut costs simply because they were getting too many returns on "10000 pieces of clipart!" and "5000 applications for your PDA!" (only 10.99!)

        Besides does anyone really give two shits about Office Depot and there virtual cornucopia of over priced software and $30 ink refills that make you into a felon if you try to open them?

        Open mouth, yawn, repeat....
      • Re:With Good Reason (Score:5, Interesting)

        by danheskett ( 178529 ) <danheskett&gmail,com> on Monday March 24, 2003 @07:06PM (#5586956)
        There is no such thing. The article is deceptive in suggesting that there is an active role played by MS in certifying applications. There is not. Any app that meets the standards it specifies is "Designed for Windows XP". There are other standards, namely for device level drivers and hardware in general that are "Certified for Windows XP". These are in fact tested by MS for quality. And it is rather rigorous at times.

        But do not be fooled. This program is nothing at all like you are envisioning. I've helped get several apps to that level, and it's truly not a big deal.

        Plus in the end, it is in fact good for consumers. Software that does in fact meet the spec is almost always significantly easier to install, remove, deploy, and manage in networks than software that is not to spec.

        Finally, for Office Depot, this probably is a very good business move. A lot of software they sell is very seriously utter junk. It uses hard coded paths, it's low-quality, it's buggy/broken, and is generally not worth anything at all, let alone $10/$20/$30 or more. Cutting out the chaff or forcing them to distribute software that is at least somewhat higher-quality is very likely to reduce the number of people who are pissed at them, return the product, and cost them cash dollars.
  • No. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:42PM (#5586126) Journal
    This isn't a microsoft decision, it's an Office Depot decision.

    Haven't we seen this in the past when 3.11 change to 95, 9x changed to 2000...

    Move along.
    • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:52PM (#5586263)
      This isn't a microsoft decision, it's an Office Depot decision.
      Haven't we seen this in the past when 3.11 change to 95, 9x changed to 2000...
      Move along.

      I agree, this is hardly an MS Monopoly move. You all complain about software not working the way it should, but when a step is taken to light a fire under companies to make it work better with MS's big OS, the Bill Gates of Borg icon comes out.

      You all really should figure out what you want from MS instead of taking the attitude that anything they do (or, in this case, somebody who's selling MS products) as negative.
    • "fanatical customer service environment at Office Depot."

      Boy, reading that just about literally made me fall out of my chair laughing.

      But to respond to your point, no, like many others, I see the hand of Big Daddy Ballmer here.
      And even beyond DRM, and the control it gives M$, it becomes just one more barrier to fair competition. Who wants to bet that soon we'll see rising fees from M$ to get a product certified "XP approved"? And that many more small developers, software and hardware will drop out of the market.

      I'ld love to believe that all those developers will smoothly switch over to Linux, Mac OS, Palm OS, and other options but I just don't think that it will work out that way.

      After all, a small background project of mine is cancelled as of this moment. I had hoped to eventually get an educational history database of ours into OD stores but ain't no way I'm gonna even try to sell through this kind of maneuvering. We've spent a few dollars and a few hours pursuing it. We won't spend any more.

    • Re:No. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by The-P ( 598586 )
      This isn't a Microsoft decision, it's an Office Depot decision.

      Although I have no knowledge of what this decision was based on, I would be willing to go out on a limb and say that it is probably based on back end marketing dollars. Something like if Office Depot does this then they get an additional .5% back on all M$ products they purchase. On a big scale this is in the millions. They can then use that money to market Office Depot, but probably have to couple it with M$ adverts. All in all it is ve
  • Or.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WittyName ( 615844 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:42PM (#5586128)
    It could mean Office Depot is sick of getting returns for software that "almost" works..
    • Re:Or.. (Score:5, Funny)

      by LynchMan ( 76200 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:45PM (#5586161)
      But does the Windows XP package have 'Designed for Windows XP' on it?

      From what I have heard, Win XP 'almost' works too...
    • Re:Or.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ONOIML8 ( 23262 )
      And THAT is why I don't sell ANY Microsoft products or products that operate on Microsoft operating systems.

      If you are right it could be that Office Depot is getting as frustrated as I was. If so they may take the same course of action that I did and go exclusivly to Linux/Unix solutions to offer customers or get out of the software business all together.

  • by jbellis ( 142590 ) <> on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:44PM (#5586139) Homepage
    Microsoft may be a monopoly, but Office Depot is hardly the only place to buy software.
    • by Blindman ( 36862 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:12PM (#5586488) Journal
      The issue isn't that it is Office Depot, but that someone as done this. Basically, they have made Microsoft the gatekeeper for inclusion on their shelves. The fact that this is Office Depot doesn't make it a big deal, but this may open the door for places like Best Buy or CompUSA to follow suit. If that happenned, then it would very quickly become difficult to buy a software product that Microsoft didn't approve of.

      It isn't the magnitude of the step, just the direction. I, for one, don't like where this is going.
  • Software will still be available online, and from other vendors. As long as Microsoft doesn't require software makers to register with MS in order to make their products function properly on the OS, it can't be as bad as the article makes it out to be.
    • by Mitreya ( 579078 ) <mitreya&gmail,com> on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:56PM (#5586326)
      It is a first step... once that goes through, other things will follow. Do you really think that Microsoft wouldn't consider requiring registration of all software products?

      Anyways, isn't that monopoly abuse? Again? Few months after the trial?

    • But it might be (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FuzzyDaddy ( 584528 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:05PM (#5586425) Journal
      It might work, but you will get one scary-ass warning from Windows. I installed a new ethernet card in an older system, and there was a slip of paper which showed the message that would pop up if installed on XP. I wish I could remember exactly what it said now, but it would certainly have made me think twice about the software.

      Remember the EULA on windows from two years back? It said "This product cannot be used in life-critical applications, because it contains Java from Sun Microsystems." Don't underestimate the damage a sinister sounding warning message can cause.

  • by TheCeltic ( 102319 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:45PM (#5586156) Homepage
    If they truly enforce this, then MS will lose market share the way Apple did when they stopped being the flexible environment for users. Fortunately for Apple, they have come back around. What OS will take the position? LINUX of course...
  • Honestly... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quaoar ( 614366 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:45PM (#5586158)
    How many people here can say they do their software shopping at Office Depot? Anyone? Bueler?
  • by BigGar' ( 411008 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:45PM (#5586160) Homepage
    buying anything at Office Depot. I'll take my business elsewhere.
  • Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by crumbz ( 41803 ) <<remove_spam>jus ... spam>> on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:45PM (#5586164) Homepage
    Red Hat 9.0 anyone?
    OpenOffice anyone?

    I think Redmond is playing the card of trying to keep non-MS approved (i.e. open source and other ISV) software off of retail shelves. However, with retail giants like Wal-Mart only concerned with cost and sales, this could prove a losing strategy....especially outside of the U.S.

    My two cents.
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DrinkDr.Pepper ( 620053 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:04PM (#5586417)
      Actually according to the headline, "Windows XP Apps Must Be Microsoft-Approved"
      I don't think Office Depot considers Red Hat or OO to be Windows XP apps.
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:09PM (#5586459) Journal
      Walmart vs. Microsoft - Always interesting when an unstoppable force comes up against an imovable object:)

      It's true. Both are big campanies, capable of and willing to use exactly the same dirty tricks as each other.

      Office depot sounds like they're onto a loser here. If the customer wants goods that MS would prefer they didn't have, the customer will get it from somewhere else. It's in the interests of retailers to satisfy the customer, not their supplier. The customer is the only one that will give them money after all.
  • Conflict...Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dmp123 ( 547038 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:45PM (#5586165)
    I detect a small conflict brewing between the last two stories...

    Ofice Depot will only sell Designed for Windows XP products, yet the page says RedHat Linux 9.0 will be available from.....(you guessed it!) Office Depot!

    Well, this IS a turn-up for the books - who thought RH would manage to get a "Designed for Windows XP" certification!

  • Aggressive? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Johnny Mnemonic ( 176043 ) <mdinsmore&gmail,com> on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:46PM (#5586176) Homepage Journal

    I only use Windows when I have to, to be sure, so maybe I'm out of touch. But I sure didn't think the penetration of XP was that large, yet--is Office Depot really ready to sacrfice 75% of their customers?

    I guess just because it's ready for XP doesn't mean that it won't work on older versions of winders. On the other hand, I see lots of users of win98 knowing what it feels like to use a Mac and go shopping for software in an office supply store...

    Hint--they won't be paying $199 just to shop with you.
  • by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:51PM (#5586249) Homepage Journal

    Please be aware that Office Depot is immediately requiring all products that connect to a Personal Computer and Notebook Computer must pass these Designed for Windows XP logo requirements

    The specific use of the word "connect" smells strongly like the new policy applies only to hardware products, so that customers aren't scared when they bring home their products and get the "unsigned driver" alert. (Under Windows 2000 and Windows XP, installing an unsigned driver produces such an alert. Installing an unsigned user-mode application program does not produce such an alert.)

    • by Keith Russell ( 4440 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:37PM (#5586698) Journal that customers aren't scared when they bring home their products and get the "unsigned driver" alert.

      If this really is targeted at hardware (which I doubt, IMHO), then good luck to Office Depot. I've noticed an increasing number of hardware products whose quick install guides include a passage that says, in so many words:

      While installing the drivers for this product, Windows is going to pop up an "error" message designed to scare the pants off of you. Well, screw Microsoft. We know damn well that our drivers work. We don't have time to wait for Microsoft to rubber-stamp them, and neither do you, so just click "Continue Anyway".

      If Microsoft wants to combat that attitude, they're better off quietly tightening the screws on those hardware manufacturers who tell users to blow off the "unsigned driver" warning.

      Hardware or software, if this is motivated by Microsoft, it can't be anything more than a trial balloon. This is most likely some middle-manager at Office Depot demonstrating symptoms of clue-deficiency. That's assuming The Inquirer report is accurate to begin with. I rank those guys somewhere between The Register and the Weekly World News on the journalistic integrity scale.

  • Business Alliances (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:52PM (#5586275) Homepage Journal
    Sweet crap people. Its called a "Business Alliance" and it happens an aweful lot, and not just in the IT industry.
  • by n1ywb ( 555767 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:53PM (#5586285) Homepage Journal
    I don't have an Office Depot near me, so I don't know what they're selling right now. I do know that if you walk into Staples, Circuit City, or Best Buy, they have a TON of crap that "connects" to computers. They will NEVER follow Office Depot's example, they would lose a SHITLOAD of business. Do you really think that they'll pull every keyboard, joystick, printer, stick of RAM, etc that isn't XP certified? What about multimedia speaker systems? Are Alienware cases supposed to get XP certification?

    Another good example is Radio Shack. Shit, are they supposed to get every FAN and HEATSINK and power supply Y-cable M$ certified for XP? Right... Office Depot is going to be the loser here. Nobody else is going to go along with this steaming pile of crap.
    • by n1ywb ( 555767 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:02PM (#5586399) Homepage Journal
      BTW it seems like a lot of people haven't noticed that this isn't just SOFTWARE they're talking about, it's HARDWARE too. From the article (which I guess nobody read)

      As you know, applications and
      devices that meet or exceed Microsoft's technical requirements will be awarded the Designed for Windows XP logo ... Please be aware that Office Depot is immediately requiring all products that connect to a Personal Computer and Notebook Computer must pass these Designed for Windows XP logo requirements to be considered for retail distribution through our stores.
      • by luzrek ( 570886 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:17PM (#5586525) Journal
        Good point. I would agree that the loss of "non-certified" hardware is a much bigger deal than the loss of "non-certified" software. Especially since the vast majority of commercial software is already designed for MS Windows.

        However, I'ld bet this is the beginning of the end for Office Despot (err depot). For a while now they have been competeing agains such big-box retailers such as CompUSA, BestBuy, and Walmart. CompUSA is probably hurting their computer sales all over, but especially at the "mom and pop" business and geek level. BestBuy and Walmart have been underpricing everyone for a long time now and are probably killing off the "just need x peice of hardware" market. Office Depot has neither the knowledgeable staff of CompUSA, nor the low prices of BestBuy and Walmart.

        All in all though, this isn't likely to affect anyone in the /. community very much. Office Depot, Staples, and OfficeMax have traditionally had very high prices and very limited selections for computer hardware anyway.

  • Microsoft Pressure (Score:5, Interesting)

    by richwmn ( 621114 ) <> on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:53PM (#5586292)
    I wonder who will be the first to come up with the leaked memo/e-mail/phone call from Micro$oft to Office Depot promising better discounts or support if this policy is implemented??
  • by binaryDigit ( 557647 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:54PM (#5586300)
    If others start following suit (read Walmart, Best Buy, etc) then this could be a very big deal indeed. Esp. if these retailers extend this thinking to their online sales. Think of it this way, Microsoft could effectively control the release dates of it's competitors products (or at least retail release dates) by controlling exactly when they are granted "certificiation". They also have the advantage of ALWAYS having at least a bit of a heads up on any products that their competitors are about to release (no springing a new Office suite on'em). Once again, having the OS company also sells apps is just a bad idea. How long before the OS will refuse to run any apps that have not been "blessed" by Redmond themselves?
    • by doublem ( 118724 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:11PM (#5586477) Homepage Journal
      This has been going on isnce the pre win 3.1 days

      Windows crashing with a mysterious error message when run under Dr. Dos instead of MS DOC. MS eventually lost the lawsuit in that one. Turned out they had designed Windows to detect the DOS vendor and crash if a non MS Dos was found.
    • Walmart (Score:3, Interesting)

      by luzrek ( 570886 )
      Walmart is the least likely to fold under to MS. Walmart is the largest corporation _ever_ employing something like 1.2 million people. It also has more money than MS. Also, remember that Walmart's is selling Lindows PCs on their website (aparently at a clip faster than they can be produced) and other computers without any operating systems.

      If Walmart and MS seriously butt heads I'ld expect Walmart to win. If for no other reason that it can threaten to put a complete Linux PC on its shelves for less th

  • by isdnip ( 49656 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:55PM (#5586317)
    Note that the initial article came from a British paper, indeed a very good one which I, like many on the left side of the puddle, read regularly. The article refers to Office Depot's UK stores, which have adopted the policy. It also suggests that US stores haven't yet done so, though they might at some point in the future.

    I don't know how autonomous the different Office Depot divisions are, but many companies give a lot of autonomy to national divisions.

    I sit two doors away from a Staples so I don't really go into an Office Depot much anyway....
  • by Rary ( 566291 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @05:57PM (#5586348)
    Okay people, first, take a valium. Next, recognize a couple of important points here:
    • This is an Office Depot decision, not a Microsoft decision.
    • It does not necessarily mean they won't carry non-Windows software (ie. Red Hat Linux), just that all Windows software will have to be XP-certified.
    • Consider the source of this information. It's not exactly a shining example of quality journalism. Reading the "memo" in the article, there are a couple things that pop out that make it sound a bit like a fake, written to get all the ABMers riled up (and if so, it clearly worked).
  • by isomeme ( 177414 ) <> on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:01PM (#5586389) Homepage Journal
    This may be an initial glimpse at how Microsoft could introduce Digital Restrictions Management by ensuring all retail hardware and software products are approved by Redmond.
    By similar reasoning, it could be an initial glimpse of their plan to breed a race of immortal dragons to rule the world. I mean, seriously, exactly how does a business decision by Office Depot map onto a technology initiative by Microsoft? Sure you can draw a dotted line, but it's a long and twisty one, and at that level of conspiracy analysis you really should have your foil-lined hat on before you start.
  • Wouldnt this be a funny way to slap MS in the face ?

    Write a shiny wrapper whose sole purpose in life is to "extract" a linux distro ISO from a "database" and write such distro to a CD, then reboot the computer, forcing a linux install if you're configured to boot off cd.

    Make sure your wrapper is working according to the WHQL "standard" and BOOM! Instant Microsoft Certified Linux distro. How's that for market penetration ?

    I should get a patent on this. And on breathing...

  • I work at the Depot (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:11PM (#5586483)

    I'm actually posting this message from a Computer located inside of an Office Depot location. I have been working at the depot for 4 years now, and I personally consider this to be a good thing, although I do have some reservations.

    Consider the current retail culture in this world, sales are down, margins are slim and overall, profits are down. Office Depot is in a position where something has to be done to distinguish themselves from our competitors. Staples, Office Max and Grand & Toy (in canada) as well as whatever other retailers in the states are out there, make for a very competitive selling atmosphere, and with margins being as slim as they are, you cannot compete on price, what you have left is customer service, selection, and reliability. Most of the items that are going to be affected by this are the cheap little invoicing programs that no one buys anyway, that all get returned to the vendor after a year of not being on the shelf. Also consider that your typical customer at the depot, is not as computer savvy as you, or I am. Our typical customer is the home user, who is upgrading their early pentium box, and places constant phone calls to the store, whenever "This Driver is not digitally signed" comes up, or even today, the lady that called to ask how to find the CD Key for her Black ICE Defender. These are the type of people who NEED everything to work as smoothly out of the box as possible, with few or no questions.

    Just because all of the itmes that we will now carry must be supported my XP, does not mean that those items will not work in alternate OS' just means that if an item is not 100% XP compliant, we won't carry it. If anything, this is just going to be an incentive for companies like HP, Canon, Lexmark, Epson etc to get off of their asses and fix all of the broken drivers that we see daily.

    Disclaimer. I'm personally an avid OSS user, including Debian and FreeBSD. My home network has been windows free for 3 years now, and I could not be happier. However, I realize that 99% of the people that I see on a daily basis at my store, are using XP, or are upgrading to XP in the near future. From the standpoint of my employer, this makes sense, and I agree with them.

    • by chriso11 ( 254041 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @07:34PM (#5587177) Journal
      If anything, this is just going to be an incentive for companies like HP, Canon, Lexmark, Epson etc to get off of their asses and fix all of the broken drivers that we see daily.

      I respectfully disagree - if there is a subtle bug, that gets through the certification, then there is less incentive to fix the bug cause releasing a new certified driver is a lot more work now.

    • I think you are being a little naive. This is most likely what Microsoft is planning:

      1) "Designed for XP" certification begins to appear on some products.
      2) Clueless buyers (most of them) show sufficient preference for products with the sticker that it hurts sales of any competing products that aren't certified.
      3) Certification becomes necessary for anyone who has a software or hardware product they want to sell to the mass market.
      4) Microsoft now has control.
      5) Certification criteria are updated to force
  • Mac Hardware? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sPaKr ( 116314 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:14PM (#5586497)
    What about Mac Hardware.. Like umm.. a usb mouse. Ya, that works on a mac.. then you just slap 'also works on pc's' in on the otherside of the box and let them come after you. So how long till the manufactures figure out its easier to put a half ass mac driver on their website.. and call it a mac product and keep shipping the same box? A bigger problem is that I belive the parent of Office Depot owns other retail chains.. will they be forced to change as well?
  • Mod me down (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShooterNeo ( 555040 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:14PM (#5586502)
    Mod me down for saying this (on a side note : I think its lame to say "mod me down" : but if I don't say it, people will think I'm trolling. By putting that tag on my message I'm admitting the message is inflammatory)

    Anyway, there are some notable advantages to a system like Palladium. Theoretically, it could enable certain types of applications that aren't possible today which involve trusting the client. Yes, I'm aware that even if the hardware is integrated into the processor someone could still steal the private keys the system depends on, and create an emulated version, cracking the system wide open. I'm also pretty confident the initial versions will have some subtle but still gaping hole, allowing them to be cracked with ease.

    However, in theory if it all works right (and from a theoretical standpoint it IS possible to make it work right and be unbreakable) applications running under its protection would have their memory space protected against intrusion.

    There is NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING planned that would stop you from writing your own applications that hide under this umbrella (but an integral part will be the system kernel, so microsoft OS only), and I'm sure microsoft will encourage you to do so. There is nothing that will stop you from running untrusted code : it just won't have access to resources belonging to trusted applications (unless you've hacked it of course)

    Palladium won't prevent you from installing a different OS on the system, you just won't be able to run trusted apps in that OS (technically its possible to give these same features with open source. The actual keys would have to be hidden, controlled by someone, but everything else could be viewed and contributed to) . Yes in theory SOME types of remote hacking exploits could be stopped. Network applications would now only process messages that are signed by code that your palladium chip certifies as meeting certain criteria. This could make it possible for a microsoft server app to only even look at messages sent by a microsoft client app, preventing many hacks.

    This means the application could have secret information in it that needs to be hidden from the end user. For instance, the application could be a movie player that decrypts a spiffy new high definition format which is capable of encoding 1080p digital movie quality video, copied byte for byte straight from the version used in theaters. It could be an online gaming client that to run efficiently must have certain information protected from access and tampering(coordinates of other players, your crosshair location, the current state of the world physics system, objects occluded from view, and many many more). The current generation of MMORPGs have very limited interactivity (cannot aim, shitty AI, no physics, no elements that require player twitch skill) because the client cannot be trusted with anything (and even then it has to have SOME information that could be useful to a hacker) nor control anything interesting.

    And yes, it could be a document viewer that reads encrypted documents. The document files themselves might contain more information than the author wants revealed, so the viewer would obey certain rules about when the file can be accessed, and what machine. Currently this is impossible to create because someone could steal the decryption key the viewer uses right out of memory, or edit its code such that it no longer obeys restrictive tags in the file.

    None of this would stop you from using untrusted players to view your current data files, and nothing would force you to convert. Unfortunatly, since the keys to the kingdom will be controlled by microsoft bad things could come from this. They could charge monopoly prices, use it to squeeze out their competitors, and do many more things. However, I believe that this has the potential to be a killer app. If you don't want microsoft to rule the software world even more than it already does, perhaps the open source community should look to creating their own, equivalent, alternative.
  • by gordie ( 139287 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:15PM (#5586511) Homepage
    From the article: "Please be aware that Office Depot is immediately requiring all products that connect to a Personal Computer and Notebook Computer must pass these Designed for Windows XP logo requirements to be considered for retail distribution through our stores" - note the italics are mine. We are not talking about software but hardware that must be XP certified. So don't worry about that game, worry about that Video card or printer etc!!!!
  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <`dadinportland' `at' `'> on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:16PM (#5586520) Homepage Journal
    Really, write a clear and concise reason why you don't like there decision.
    You could be surprised at how seriously corporation take these letters. Hell, I got Saturn* to drop the price of a car when a I wrote them a letter at how angry I was at the way a sales rep. treated me.

    *Saturn is a car company that has a non-negotiable car price.
  • by certsoft ( 442059 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:16PM (#5586524) Homepage
    A "Not designed for Windows XP" logo?
  • by the_rev_matt ( 239420 ) <slashbot&revmatt,com> on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:18PM (#5586532) Homepage
    Most small businesses do their shopping at Office Depot or a comparable office store. The "who the hell cares, no one buys computer related items anywhere but Fry's/newegg/CompUSA/random local specialty shop anyway" posts are naive and uninformed. A lot of non-technical people buy their equipment at office stores, not least because many of them have corporate accounts there. The implication here, while not stated explicitly, is that there will be no non-windows software at all. Back in 99/00 I convinced several clients to put linux on their servers largely on the basis of it being sold at Office Depot. This is an important marketing presence for linux. Not critical, but important.

    Moreover, having a fairly major outlet only carry XP certified hardware will possibly encourage manufacturers to cut back on support for non-XP operating systems across their product lines. This will not only affect Mac/BSD/Linux users, but users of Windows 2000, NT, 98, and ME (yes, both of them).
  • by Mahrin Skel ( 543633 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:26PM (#5586608)
    This is a squeeze on the hardware manufacturer's more than anything else. One, you have to pay MS for the certification tests (I forget how much it is, but it's a sizable chunk), and they probably want to turn this into a profit center. No matter what they do, the OS and Office market is not going to give them significant revenue growth, so they're going to extract a tax from the peripheral hardware side.

    Two, if you can't get your stuff on the shelves without MS certifying your drivers, and MS is a bit...slow about certifying devices with vendor-supplied Linux drivers.... Guess how many companies will look at the 98% of the peripheral/card market that is Windows and the 2% that is not, and decide they don't need to distribute their own Linux drivers, after all? We'd be back to 1995 for Linux drivers, rolling our own from reverse engineering.

    Three, to really implement DRM for video and audio, you need to build it into the video and audio cards, and MS is still pushing their own DRM standards. If they can turn XP certification into a club to beat the card-builders over the head with, how long before you can't buy a SoundBlaster that isn't hard-wired for MicroSoft DRM?

    Maybe that's all so much conspiracy-spinning, but the implications and conclusions look pretty obvious to me.


  • by frdmfghtr ( 603968 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:28PM (#5586622)
    Please be aware that Office Depot is immediately requiring all products that connect to a Personal Computer and Notebook Computer must pass these Designed for Windows XP logo requirements to be considered for retail distribution through our stores. This change is being implemented due to our on-going pursuite to enhance and simplify our fanatical customer service environment at Office Depot. Products must be certified as Designed for Windows XP by May 30, 2003.

    Please note that this policy refers to HARDWARE, not software. Thus, serial modems, mice, keyboards, surge supressors, cables, etc. could all fall under this category.

    Does anybody seriously expect anybody to go through the motions of getting its serial cables "certified" by The Beast? Surge supressors? USB cables? All these things plug into PCs and notebooks, right?
  • This is GOOD! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:28PM (#5586623)
    This means that all of their existing products that do not meet the XP logo requirements will be found at a discount in the clearance bins....
  • by LordSah ( 185088 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:41PM (#5586721)
    Here's a summary of the logo requirements [], from Microsoft's Logo site []:

    List of Windows Fundamentals Requirements
    1.1 Perform primary functionality and maintain stability
    1.2 Any kernel-mode drivers that the application installs must pass verification testing on Windows XP
    1.3 Any device or filter drivers included with the application must pass Windows HCT testing
    1.4 Perform Windows version checking correctly
    1.5 Support Fast User Switching and Remote Desktop
    1.6 Support new visual styles
    1.7 Support switching between tasks

    Installation Requirements List
    2.1 Do not attempt to replace files that are protected by Windows File Protection
    2.2 Migrate from earlier versions of Windows
    2.3 Do not overwrite non-proprietary files with older versions
    2.4 Do not require a reboot inappropriately
    2.5 Install to Program Files by default
    2.6 Install any shared files that are not side-by-side to the correct locations
    2.7 Support Add or Remove Programs properly
    2.8 Support "All Users" installs
    2.9 Support Autorun for CDs and DVDs

    Data and Settings Requirements List
    3.1 Default to the correct location for storing user-created data
    3.2 Classify and store application data correctly
    3.3 Deal gracefully with access-denied scenarios
    3.4 Support running as a Limited User

    This may be an initial glimpse at how Microsoft could introduce Digital Restrictions Management by ensuring all retail hardware and software products are approved by Redmond.

    Logo requirements exist to ensure a quality user experience. NOT to force DRM onto the world through Office Depot. This is biased speculation on the part of the submitter, and timothy, objective as always, posted it on the front page.
  • This is great!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dolemite_the_Wiz ( 618862 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:44PM (#5586743) Journal
    I don't want to buy a CD burner that says it works on XP when it won't without having to jump through tons of hoops.

    I'm having a problem with an MP3 Player at the moment that has a USB interface. If I move this USB interface to any other USB port other than the one I installed the MP3 Drivers on, the MP3 Player won't work. It's clearly a software issue and this product isn't cleared as 'official' XP hardware.

    The Manufacturer's suggestion on how to resolve this issue is not 'wait for the next version of the drivers' but install the drivers on each individual USB port. I've got 7 ports and I'll be damned if I'm going to install the drivers 7 times.

  • Palm screwed? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by niola ( 74324 ) <> on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:44PM (#5586746) Homepage
    Judging by the text of the memo from Office Depot suppliers, I am thinking that companies like Palm may be hurt the worst. In the memo it says:

    Please be aware that Office Depot is immediately requiring all products that connect to a Personal Computer and Notebook Computer must pass these Designed for Windows XP logo requirements to be considered for retail distribution through our stores.

    Well, Palm and most other PDA's do connect to the PC. I wonder if this is also Microsoft's way of cutting in at Palm?

  • by danheskett ( 178529 ) <danheskett&gmail,com> on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:52PM (#5586808)
    The phrase that have been certified by [Microsoft] is pretty deceptive.

    Any product that meets certain guidelines can carry the logo. The quoted segment seems to imply an activity that must be done by MS on your software. That is simply not the case.

    Any software can carry the logo and claimed to be Designed for Windows [XP].

    In light of that, all the nonesense about DRM/backdoor/sneaking/etc doesn't make sense.

    The "Designed for Windows XP" logo program makes a lot of sense. Asking developers to adhere to modern standards of coding, packaging, documentation, and usuability isn't outlandish, I don't think. Products that reall do adhere to the standard actually are quite nice: they can be deployed to a network easily using the Windows Installer, can be managed en masse with GPO, can be uninstalled/installed generally without a reboot, have useful repair options, behave properly in a multi-user environment, properly store information in user profiles and not in silly locations that are hard coded ("C:\Windows\foo.ini"), etc.

    It is easy to assign sinister attributes to this motion, but I think it is more likely that this is a positive step to coral developers who seeks to abuse the idea of being "Windows compatible" without actually being well good and compatible with Windows XP.
  • by Eric Damron ( 553630 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @06:56PM (#5586853)
    "A SCHEME BEING IMPLEMENTED by Office Depot - almost certainly at Microsoft's behest"

    "Almost certainly" means that they're not sure. The article really pushes my anger buttons and I don't like it. Before the INQUIRERER pushes my rage button I would like to be sure that they know what it is that they are talking about so that I don't go off and make an ass out of my self.

    This may be a dark plot by Microsoft, it wouldn't be the first time but it also could be a decision made completely by Office Depot. Please don't push my buttons if you're not sure.

  • From an employee (Score:5, Informative)

    by MaestroRC ( 190789 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @07:13PM (#5587006) Homepage
    I've worked at Office Depot for about the last year and a half, in the Technology department. We sell a little of everything, including games and other software, and it is mostly (95%) oriented towards Windows. The only real Linux software that we carry in-store is RHx, and I'm quite sure we will continue to carry it. And for the mac stuff, well, as said previously, we only carry TurboTax and Quicken, and again, that will probably stay.

    What this policy is affecting most is going to be the bargain software as well as the cheapo hardware. From the perspective I see from working there, it is most definately a wise move, since most of the time when a piece of software or hardware does not carry the logo, it is much more difficult to install/use, and is prone to return (Example: Lexmark... who here HASN'T had problems installing their shitty inkjets?). It is unreal how many people buy something, can't get it to work without tweaking something that they dont know how to change, and take it back, even if there is a big "DO NOT RETURN TO STORE" sticker on it. Most of these products get return to "DND", which is either returned to the vendor for repair or destroyed; but either way it costs the store money. I think the biggest company this will hurt is Lexmark, unless they can get their certification soon. The bargain software, in my opinion, is good riddance.
  • by mrkurt ( 613936 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @07:14PM (#5587018) Journal
    In the tradition of campers who keep asking, "Is BSD dying?", I have to ask: is the commercial software business dying? I realize that this decision on Office Depot's part to become Microsoft's bitch affects hardware as well, but it seems to me that the real pinch of this move is going to come most significantly to the software business. If MS can make this arrangement stick, it will hit the commercial software houses the hardest. After all, why would the Beast "certify" anything for Windows XP if it is in a category that they would like to dominate? I have in mind the things that Intuit, Symantec, and other vendors who sell popular desktop programs and have a significant market share. If they don't dance to MS' tune, then they might get locked out of the retail channel. Then again, that would be grounds for another lawsuit, which, by the time the court rules against MS, said companies could be out of business. Not that it would be any great loss in some cases...
  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @07:31PM (#5587160) Journal

    You *have* to look at the system requirement anyway, and you don't need to be "certified" to say that your software runs on Windows.

    For that matter, who makes major software purchases at Office Depot anyway? Getting the best price is so much easier online, and unless you woke up and suddenly decided that your office had to use the next version or you were all going to die, the wait for delivery is no problem. I mean, it's one thing when a monitor goes out and you have to have it right now, but I can't conceive of any situation where you would suddenly have to go to OD and buy a shrink-wrapped title.

    At any rate, I wager that this is no harm to OD because most of the software they sell is probably "big name brand" stuff. Smaller vendors that don't cert will just keep selling online and through other outlets.

  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @07:36PM (#5587183)
    and equally possible that they are simply tired of selling some stupid camera/mouse/whatever, and having it returned because "it doesn't work in windows xp"

  • by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @07:44PM (#5587235)
    The Inquirer piece abruptly concludes with an alleged Office Depot memo to suppliers. The Inquirer neither explains the circumstance by which they came into possession of this alleged memo nor does it even bother to asert that the "journalist" whose name bylines the story made an attempt to contact Office Depot to verify it's veracity and authenticity.

    So much for journalistic credibility. Slashdot has neither the interest or the ethics to verify facts (hiding behind their "we just post other peoples' stuff" alibi), but I guess we can now add another source to the list of online rubbish vendors.
  • by cyril3 ( 522783 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @07:47PM (#5587259)
    If you read the article it talks about items that connect to pc's and laptops as requiring certification. I assumed that meant hardware as I can't see how you can describe applications software as something that conects to a machine.

    It says nothing about application software.

    Can we stop the "Will they sell Linux" stuff now.

    I assume they got sick of people bringing back everything that threw up the "This is not signed" box.

  • by Spoing ( 152917 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @08:18PM (#5587447) Homepage
    That's what this mandate says to me. Keep your eyes open folks! :)
  • The Big Lever (Score:4, Interesting)

    by serutan ( 259622 ) <snoopdoug AT geekazon DOT com> on Monday March 24, 2003 @09:22PM (#5587853) Homepage
    We may be seeing the early signs of Microsoft's stragegy to get people to switch to their new Palladium version of Windows. Think about how the Palladium version is going to be completely incompatible with existing Windows systems. Pre-Palladium software won't run at all. Documents will not be transferrable between the old and new systems. Users of the new OS will even have to buy new Palladium-equipped PCs.

    On the surface this seems insane. There are 40 million people still running Win98, who have never seen fit to upgrade their OS, let alone buy new hardware. Microsoft must have a strategy for making the switch happen. Perhaps they intend to embargo customers who don't switch, controlling the supply of software and hardware. Forcing the diehards to shop at secondhand stores for things like hard drives and video cards might be the Big Lever they use to make the world go where they want it to.

    How long do you want to bet it will be before non-Palladium hardware is outright illegal?
  • by KC7GR ( 473279 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @09:55PM (#5588022) Homepage Journal
    Well, I decided to try going straight to the horse's mouth, as it were (ewwww! When was the last time this nag saw their dentist?!) I just got off the phone with the store manager at my local Office Despot, and -- are you ready for this? -- I knew more about it (from reading the article) than he did! In fact, he asked me to forward him the URL (which I did).

    This tells me that OD may not have even decided where they're going with this right away, outside of getting persnickety with their suppliers. I don't see it affecting "generic" stuff like cables, CD-R media, floppies, etc., nor (according to the manager I spoke with) is it likely to cause them to stop carrying stuff like Linux or FreeBSD packages.

    OD is, I was told, in the market to make sure that everything they sell in the computer hardware arena works with everything else they sell in the software arena. Those dreaded "Unsigned Driver" messages are indeed a big sticking point. They're out to provide, in the manager's words, a "Total Solution" to their customers (yes, you can laugh now).

    I don't dare invoke Godwin by making a comparison that I'm sure you can guess at. I will say that I've bought maybe two software packages at CompUSA in the last ten years, and I don't see that changing any time soon, especially since you couldn't PAY me to use X(tra)P(ain).

    The only other thing I'll add is that, in the long run, I believe this will only increase the demand for older (as in pre-XP and, more importainly, pre-DRM) software and hardware. I think, once again, the used-computer market is about to see another metaphorical shot in the arm (at least from those who know what the frell they're doing).

  • by sfe_software ( 220870 ) on Monday March 24, 2003 @10:25PM (#5588201) Homepage
    Where the hell does DRM come into this? The official criteria for Windows Logo Certification [] has nothing to do with DRM. It involes:

    - Obtaining a certificate from Verisign ($400)
    - Adhering to certain Windows Standards (noting that MS Office 2000 and Media Player would not pass)

    That's it. There are no DRM requirements, just making sure your software a) works with the latest Windows version and follows certain standards (not very strict), and b) is code-signed to ensure it is published exactly the way you released it (signed by you, with your own key).

"My sense of purpose is gone! I have no idea who I AM!" "Oh, my God... You've.. You've turned him into a DEMOCRAT!" -- Doonesbury