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Bush administration backs Microsoft in Korean battle

Antony Savvas

The Bush administration has protested South Korea’s decision to fine Microsoft almost £20m for acting in an uncompetitive way in the country.

“Korea’s remedy goes beyond what is necessary or appropriate to protect consumers, as it requires the removal of products that consumers may prefer,” said J Bruce McDonald, deputy assistant attorney general at the US Department of Justice’s anti-trust division.

The Korea Fair Trade Commission has ruled that Microsoft violated South Korean law by bundling its Windows Media Service with the Windows Server operating system.

In addition, it said Microsoft was wrong to bundle its media player and instant-messaging program with Windows. The European Commission fined Microsoft a much larger amount for bundling its media player with Windows in the European market, as part of a wider anti-trust case.

The KFTC said the bundling in both cases prevented rivals getting a grip in the South Korean market, and in the case of instant messaging, Korean ISPs like Daum were unable to compete.

As a result of the ruling, in addition to the fine, Microsoft will be forced to facilitate downloads of rival software and to stop selling its server software bundled with Windows Media Services.

Microsoft said the ruling did not match South Korean law and that it would appeal the decision. It is still appealing against the European Commission ruling.

 


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