Saturday, February 26, 2005

Microsoft misses a trick

You cannot help but admire Microsoft. According to The Guardian, having been fined by the EU commission a record €497m for “bundling” its media player with its standard Windows operating system, it is now – as instructed – selling the system without the media player.

In the interests of keeping consumers fully informed, it proposed calling the "degraded" version: "Windows reduced media edition". Predictably, since it retails for the same price as the fully functional version, the commission sees this as "as a serious deterrent to consumers" and is throwing a tizzy fit.

The International Herald Tribune cites "a person close to the commission's competition department", saying: "The message effectively tells users that they have bought a duff product." And your point is?

Helpfully, Microsoft has come up with a few other names but none of them find favour with the commission, for want of which it is threatening to impose new fines of 5 percent a day of Microsoft's daily global revenues. With that, relations between the commission and Microsoft have sunk to a new low.

Privately, officials are described as being angry at what are seen as Microsoft's "underhand, prevaricating efforts" to lessen the impact of the sanctions imposed by the EU. The software group, however, insisted: "We are fully committed to implementation of the commission's and the court's decisions."

What surprises though is that Microsoft have not chosen the obvious route and simply labelled the degraded product the "EU version" with a prominent "ring of stars".

As the EU is a by-word for corruption and inefficiency, such a version would readily fit with the EU brand image and happily remind the "citizens of Europe" of the benefits of EU membership.

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