Office Depot to require XP Certification

The Inquirer is reporting that as of May 30th, Office Depot will no longer offer PC products that don't carry Microsoft's "Designed for Windows XP" logo. Here's an excerpt from an Office Depot memo sent to suppliers:
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.

Additionally, it is critical that your packaging carry the Designed for Windows XP logo. With the Designed for Windows XP logo on your product, Office Depot will not only ensure the best user-experience for our mutual customers, but we also anticipate it will also result in lower returns for Office Depot and lower support costs for you.

As you might expect, the news whipped the Slashdot community into a bit of a tizzy, complete with all the usual conspiracy theories. However, I'm more inclined to believe that Office Depot is motivated more by its bottom line than a desire to fortify Microsoft's monopoly.

Since the letter refers to products that "connect" to PCs and notebooks, it seems likely that Office Depot is referring primarily to PC hardware rather than software. Because Office Depot has to handle at least initial complaints from mainstream customers who can't get their new hardware purchase running like they want, it makes sense to require that any hardware on retail shelves at least pass Microsoft's own gauntlet of compatibility tests.

Predictably, suppliers aren't happy. Microsoft's certification process isn't free, nor is it a quick process; a May 30th deadline might be a little unrealistic considering that Office Depot will also require that compatibility logos be displayed on each product.

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