Under the terms of Microsoft's November 2001 Justice Department settlement and final court judgment issued about a year later, a government-sanctioned “Technical Committee” has overseen Windows development. The TC is responsible for ensuring that Microsoft complies with the terms of the final judgment, investigating complaints about Microsoft abuses and regularly reporting on the company's compliance.
The TC required some changes before the operating system's release. Each quarter, the Justice Department, Microsoft and states' attorneys general file a joint “status report,” largely based on the TC's activities. The process should have mostly ended on Nov. 12. But Google (and some other Microsoft competitors) requested an extension, and U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly gave it to them: two more years of government oversight.
Which means that the Department of Justice has been closely monitoring the development of Windows 7, which is thought to ship by the end of next year (or early 2010 at the latest). With Windows Vista, however, Microsoft has already changed the way it handles middleware. Joe Wilcox of Microsoft Watch says[…]