Anti-monopoly fine could hit Microsoft software quality

Users could be faced with poorer quality software if the EC fines Microsoft up to £2bn for anti-competitive behaviour and forces...

Users could be faced with poorer quality software if the EC fines Microsoft up to £2bn for anti-competitive behaviour and forces it to open up its source code, according to industry leaders.

Roger Ellis, the treasurer of the IT directors' organisation Elite and head of the IT Directors' Network, said Microsoft's product development and software security initiatives could be hit. "Microsoft will take money out of research and development if it is fined, which will be to the detriment of users," he said.

Philip Virgo, strategic adviser to the Institute for the Management of Information Systems, believes Microsoft's efforts to improve software security could suffer. "The important thing is what impact it has on Microsoft's future policy, not on Media Player or Windows 2000," he said.

Forcing Microsoft to open up its source code could also be flawed, according to Butler Group analyst Tim Jennings. "I do not think anyone expects this to have a significant impact on Microsoft's position or harm its monopoly," he said.

Earlier this month the EC, which has spent four years investigating Microsoft's business practices, accused the company of "ongoing" monopolistic and anticompetitive behaviour. Microsoft said it takes the investigation very seriously and plans to examine the EC's latest statement of objections. However, some believe the EC is barking up the wrong tree.

"What we would like to see is more high-level dialogue to add value for the end-user and more effort put into improving software," said Jonathan Mitchell, chairman of the Corporate IT Forum, Tif.

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