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Microsoft should back off

Microsoft is desperate to win support among users. With the US Department of Justice demanding that the Seattle giant be broken...

Microsoft is desperate to win support among users. With the US Department of Justice demanding that the Seattle giant be broken up and the European Union threatening to take it on over anti-competitive practices, the company needs all the friends it can get.

So it is rather surprising to find that Microsoft had just embarked on a path that will, in Gartner Group's opinion, bring it into conflict with 60% of its major customers.

Microsoft customers who buy PCs with Windows 2000 pre-loaded are now being asked to buy an upgrade licence if they want to reimage the machines so that they are configured to a company-wide standard - even if this involves using exactly the same version of Windows that came pre-loaded on the machine. This effectively doubles the licensing cost for Windows.

The decision to adopt this hard line is perfectly legal. But it smacks of some of the worst practices highlighted by Computer Weekly over the past two years in its campaign against "stiffing" - the techniques used mainly by mainframe software suppliers to extract extra revenue from existing customers.

Microsoft makes enough money from business users without making them pay twice for Windows. It should back off from this latest profit-boosting wheeze.

This was first published in August 2000

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