Posted by: bsieker | February 13, 2009

Microsoft sued again, called Monopolistic, for offering consumers choice.

Playing devil’s advocate…from an article from The Seattle Times (italics added):

Emma Alvarado bought a laptop from Lenovo on June 20, 2008, with Windows Vista Business preinstalled. She paid Lenovo “an additional $59.25 in order to ‘downgrade’ her operating system to Windows XP Professional.” Alvarado is seeking class-action status. Here’s a copy of her complaint, filed Wednesday: 13-page PDF.

Microsoft had not filed a response to the complaint and a spokesperson could not immediately be reached. [Update, 9:04 a.m.: Spokesman David Bowermaster said via e-mail: “We have not yet been served with this lawsuit, so it would be premature to comment.”]

In the complaint, Alvarado’s attorneys allege:

“As the sole licensor of Windows Vista, Microsoft enjoys vast power over OEMs which it has used and continues to use to stifle competition. … Microsoft has used its power to coerce OEMs, internet access providers (“IAPs”) and others into agreeing to restrictive and anti-competitive licensing terms for its Windows XP operating system in order to stifle competition in the market. …
“Consumers have encountered numerous problems using the Vista operating system, and these problems have been widely publicized in various media outlets. As a result, many consumers would prefer to purchase a new computer pre-installed with the Windows XP operating system or at least not pre-installed with the Vista operating system. However, Microsoft has used its market power to take advantage of consumer demand for the Windows XP operating system by requiring consumers to purchase computers pre-installed with the Vista operating system and to pay additional sums to ‘downgrade’ to the Windows XP operating system. …

“To date, nearly one in three consumers purchasing a new computer has paid to downgrade the operating system from Vista to Windows XP.”

Call me crazy, but I believe Windows XP is a product that Microsoft sells.  They don’t have to sell it; customers don’t have to buy it.  It is not Microsoft’s duty to provide Windows XP “goodness” to all those in need.  They could stop selling licenses of Windows XP tomorrow.  You might not like it; you may even throw a fit and switch to OS X or Linux.  That would be your right.  Microsoft bends over backwards to support legacy “crap” in every version of Windows.  They bent over backwards to extend the supported life of Windows XP…and now they are being sued for it.

As some have mentioned, it can be unclear who is charging the $59.25.  Is it Microsoft or Levono?  Does it matter?  There are separate support costs incurred by choosing Windows XP over Vista.  You are paying those costs in this fee.  Is the downgrade fee too high?  Probably.  However, Emma Alvarado didn’t have to buy that Levono laptop.  There are other vendors that offer Window XP hardware without a surcharge.  I get the strong feeling that the only reason she bought that laptop was to bring this lawsuit against Microsoft.

Microsoft’s current version of Windows is Windows Vista.  Sorry, but that’s the fact.  Try going into your local Apple Store and demanding that they pre-install OS X 10.1.  Or even sell you a install disc.  Why won’t they do it?  Are they being anti-consumer?  Perhaps they don’t want to support it any longer?  Hmm….

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