Right target, wrong issue

Last month the European Commission announced it was extending its investigation into possible anti-competitive behaviour by...

Last month the European Commission announced it was extending its investigation into possible anti-competitive behaviour by Microsoft to cover bundling of Microsoft media-playing technology with Windows. One week later, the US Department of Justice announced that it was focusing on Microsoft's bundling of applications into its forthcoming Windows XP operating system.

This is very much an issue of right target, wrong issue.

For the vast majority of businesses, both of these investigations are of little direct concern. True, increased competition among the software giants could filter down and translate into lower prices, but this is a long way off.

Yet there is another issue that arises as a result of Microsoft's dominant position that is far more important to businesses on both sides of the Atlantic. That is its unilateral decision to change its licensing regime in a way that is likely to significantly increase the costs of most business customers.

In a welcome move this week, Microsoft has offered to review its timetable and meet users to discuss their concerns. But if the issue is not resolved amicably, the European Commission should divert some of the resources it is applying to its current probe to investigate this issue.

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