Microsoft faces charges of breaking antimonopoly laws in Russia. The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) of the Russian Federation initiated a case against the software behemoth alleging that Microsoft violated Russian law when it took its Windows XP operating system off new PCs and the boxed versions off store shelves.
The FAS said it suspects the Redmond, Wash.-based company of terminating the production and supplies of Windows XP to the Russian Federation and reducing supplies of the preset operating system for new computers. Microsoft also faces allegations of fixing different prices for Windows XP.
"Having analyzed the market of proprietary operational systems for PC (bound software products when the rights holder reserves the monopoly for their use, copying and modification, and the source code of software products is protected by copyright), FAS Russia established that Microsoft has a dominant position on the market in question," the organization said.
Microsoft Russia Ltd. has provided information to the FAS that showed the same version of operating systems have different prices when distributed through OEMs.
By doing so, the FAS said, Microsoft violated elements of antimonopoly laws. "This contains elements of antimonopoly violations, in terms of economically, technologically and otherwise unjustified fixing of different prices (rates) for the same goods," said the FAS.
Microsoft is to answer the allegations at a hearing on July 24.
More Alleged Violations
Microsoft is also dealing with additional allegations of being anticompetitive in Europe. Recently, the European Commission alleged that Microsoft's inclusion of its Internet Explorer browser in Windows broke competition laws in Europe.
The EC brought the case against Microsoft after Opera Software ASA, the Norway-based company behind the Internet browser Opera, filed a complaint in December 2007. Opera's complaint alleged ongoing competitive harm from Microsoft's practices. In addition to tying in Internet Explorer, other software inclusions, such as desktop search and Windows Live, have also been brought to the attention of the EC.
Microsoft, however, says the integration of IE browser into Windows is regulated by European law, and computer users can choose Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome, or Opera as browsers that run on Windows.
Microsoft was set to face the allegations in a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, June 3, but never did due to a conflict. The company asked for a different hearing date after its legal team realized that the commission's senior regulators -- who would weigh in heavily on the case -- would not be present because of a scheduling conflict.
The EC could not accommodate Microsoft's request and, as a result of Microsoft's unwillingness to back down, the commission deemed Microsoft to have withdrawn its request for a hearing.
Microsoft for some time has been trying to move users from Windows XP, which was released in 2001, to Vista, which has been plagued with problems since its release in 2007, and now is preparing PC users for its new operating system, Windows 7, which is slated to hit store shelves in October.
In order to avoid the same problem with getting users to switch operating systems, Microsoft has begun hinting on deals for upgrades, hoping to get users to upgrade to the new Windows 7 operating system from Vista.