PC makers bank on desktop landgrab. Microsoft’s decision to give PC makers more freedom in customizing Windows XP may give profit-starved computer manufacturers an unexpected windfall: cash bonuses from software makers, Internet service providers and other companies eager to gain a spot on the operating system’s desktop and Start menu. Several PC makers report fierce negotiations with a variety of software companies and service providers for valuable Windows XP real estate, but none yet reports reaching a final agreement. An unplanned cash boon from prime placement of icons could bolster manufacturers’ bottom lines as PC sales hover at record lows. August 1, 2001, 8:45 a.m. PT