A group of the largest businesses in Great Britain has asked the British government to investigate Microsoft's new software licensing policies, which are going into effect October 1, complaining that they will double costs over the next four years. The Infrastructure Forum (tif), a trade group representing almost 100 companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, BP, Shell and Marks & Spencer, sent the formal complaint to the UK's Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Friday.

"Does Microsoft realize the damaging impact its pricing policy could have on British businesses?" asks tif CEO David Roberts, noting that the companies represented by the trade group spend over 18 billion pounds each year on technology.

Microsoft says that it has met with tif a number of times about the changes. "We are surprised and disappointed that they have decided to take this action but will continue to talk to them about their concerns," Microsoft said in a statement issued this weekend. "We are very conscious that changes to our licensing programs could mean higher licensing costs for about 20 percent of license purchases. We and our partners are working directly with customers to address their concerns, and help them understand their options."