August 01, 2001, 9:50 AM — Microsoft Corp. posed with its technology partners in the market for online digital photo processing as it prepares to launch its Windows XP operating system. Only, one of its foremost partners wasn't smiling.
Eastman Kodak Co., the $14 billion film and camera company, issued a statement ahead of a Microsoft-sponsored digital photography event in New York City condemning the software maker's tactics for creating an operating system that Kodak argues limits consumer choice and competition.
When the new operating system is released on Oct. 25, it will include a bundled digital photo application that guides consumers conveniently through the steps for downloading a digital picture file from a camera to the PC, modifying it with software, and printing it through an online photo finishing service.
Pulling itself from the pack of more than 20 partner hardware and software companies supporting digital photography on Windows XP -- from Compaq Computer Corp. to Sony Corp. -- Kodak contends that Microsoft's operating system unfairly promotes its own digital photo software and photo finishing Web site over competing applications and services from Kodak.
A spokesman for Kodak said Tuesday that Microsoft is "positing itself as the gatekeeper" of the online photo industry. Microsoft sets its digital photo software as the default application on Windows XP, according to Kodak's statement. Kodak also argues that it also steers consumers to Web sites that print digital photos, such as the MSN Photos Web site or Web sites from vendors that agree to pay Microsoft a fee for every picture printed by way of the Windows XP operating system, Kodak wrote in its statement.
"The Microsoft choice is visible, Kodak's is hidden," said Anthony Sanzio, a Kodak spokesman, in an interview. "They're doing this in an attempt to take customers away from Kodak and other software vendors."
Pulling from its arsenal of defense remarks, a Microsoft spokesman said the company has made the necessary concessions to give competitors equal footing with software and services on Windows XP, and is still debating the technology that will be included in the commercial release of the operating system.
"Windows makes it really easy to pick whatever software you want to use and whatever service you want to use," said Greg Sullivan, lead product manager for Windows XP. "We're really focused on addressing the needs of our customers and developing a platform that all of our partners can build on, and add value to, to provide the greatest customer choice."