Bloggers React to Russian Probe of Microsoft

Russia investigates Microsoft (MSFT) for antitrust violations with Windows XP. In IT Blogwatch, Richi Jennings watches bloggers ask if Redmond-ski is an illegal monopoly in the land of onion domes and Vilena photos. [With apologies for the bastardized Russian Slashdot meme Russian reversal.]

Not to mention the best ever source code comments...

Mary-Jo Foley is all about Microsoft:

The antitrust police are after Microsoft again, but this time in Russia. Unlike other antitrust investigations involving Windows, the Russian case is focusing on Microsoft’s phase-out of XP, rather than bundling of various components into the base operating system.

The Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) announced on June 4 it had opened an investigation of Microsoft. The charges: ... Cutting off sales of XP as of June 2008, despite the fact there remains continuing demand for XP.

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David Worthington puts his story on the stage:

Meanwhile, the company is appealing the European Commission’s (EC) preliminary findings concerning its middleware bundling practices for Windows.

I’m not an expert in the Russia customs code; it could have a legitimate bone to pick with Microsoft. It just seems silly to base an antitrust investigation on normal business behavior. ... I’m not certain what the Russian government is harping about ... Russia should have known that there was risk when it purchased Windows XP in the first place, or negotiated terms to receive extended product support from Microsoft. MORE


Justin Mann agrees:

The company does have a vested interest in getting people to switch, for support reasons at least, but can one actually blame them for that? The operating system is almost eight years old, and with the release of Windows 7 later this year, a big fine accompanied by an order to increase XP shipments to Russia is definitely not something they need right now.

The suit bears no resemblance to past antitrust claims against the company for abusing its dominant position in the market, so the possible outcome here remains unclear. What seems clear, though, is that the company is having a hard time making friends largely because of Vista. MORE


Matthew Humphries has this insight:

Demand for XP has remained in Russia ... but getting a copy is becoming more difficult. That cut back in supply may actually violate anti-monopoly laws in the country. ... The problem seems to stem from the fact Microsoft is ... a way forcing the choice during a transition period.

The worst case for Microsoft now is that they are found to be in violation. That would probably incur a big fine, but also a demand to increase the supply of Windows XP to the Russian market. With the release of Windows 7 later this year that’s something they really wouldn’t want to have to do. MORE


John Lister recalls recent related news:

Some form of investigation has been on the cards since April when [Russia] officially classified Microsoft as having a dominant market position. This didn’t inherently indicate any wrongdoing, but did mean officials began ongoing monitoring of the firm’s behavior rather than waiting for a specific incident.

Later that month Microsoft announced a program of investment in Russia totaling $300 million. This included building extra training centers, giving free software to start-up firms, building a technology center in Moscow and supporting the 2014 Winter Olympics. ... Cynics suggested it was an attempt to stave off the interest of competition officials. If that was the case, it appears to have failed. MORE


David Needle eyes the rich men's threads: [You're fired -Ed.]

There’s certainly more than a little bit of irony in the charge that Russian’s are being denied access to Microsoft software, given the country is known for rampant software piracy. MORE

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