Consumer Groups Lash Out Against XP

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2001-09-26 Print this article Print
Opponents of Microsoft Corp.s newest operating system, Windows XP, today turned the heat up further on the Redmond, Wash., software maker. Four leading consumer organizations today added to the chorus of critics of Windows XP, warning that Microsofts new bundle of software and Internet services would "extend and deepen the companys illegal monopoly and cause significant harm to the nations consumers."
Microsoft is currently preparing for the official global launch of Windows XP in New York on Oct. 25, even though new PCs with XP loaded are already shipping.
The latest attacks on Windows XP also come as Microsoft and the government head back to Washington District Court to consider appropriate behavioral remedies to address the software companys illegal anti-competitive behavior in the desktop operating system. The two parties are scheduled to appear before Washington District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly this Friday at 9:30 a.m. for a status conference on the remedy phase of the trial. In a joint status report filed before Kollar-Kotelly last week, the Justice Department and Microsoft disagreed on nearly every issue. But the filing did make clear that the Justice Department intends to introduce evidence of Microsofts ongoing conduct, "especially with regard to Windows XP." At a press conference in Washington today, the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Media Access Project and U.S. Public Interest Research Group released an analysis of Windows XP. It claimed the "tight integration of Windows XP with other basic computer applications, its restrictive licensing terms, and other anti-competitive conditions imposed by Microsoft not only mimic Microsofts previous violations of the antitrust laws, but also significantly add to them." The consumer groups have also sent a letter to Charles James, the head of the Justice De-partments Antitrust Division, the 18 state attorneys general who are party to the case, and the six state attorneys general (Arkansas, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) who last week expressed concerns about the anti-competitive nature of Windows XP. The letter calls on the parties to ensure extensive conduct remedies that eliminate from Windows XP all of the technology and business practices that the courts found illegal and "retain District Court jurisdiction to break up Microsoft if its conduct fails to comply with any settlement. "The Court must also aggressively police the remedy, since Microsoft has shown itself to be recalcitrant in its failure to comply with the earlier consent decree and its steadfast denial of wrongdoing," the letter said. The groups also released a paper, "Windows XP/.NET: Microsofts Expanding Monopoly," which found that Windows XP and Microsofts .Net software-as-a-service strategy would continue to deny users and PC makers choice and would create higher costs and impair quality and innovation. But Jim Prendergast, the executive director of Americans for Technology Leadership, came to Microsofts defense. Responding to todays attack by the four consumer groups, he said: "These beltway consumer groups are out of touch with average consumers. … Todays call for new action against Microsoft is very unpopular with consumers." A poll conducted after the Appeals Court decision showed that 63 percent of Americans did not want the case expanded to include new products, while 74 percent of those interviewed were against delaying the shipment of Windows XP, he said. "It is a shame that groups who are supposed to represent consumer interests do the bidding of a few powerful companies at the expense of Americas consumers," he said in a statement.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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