Resistance to Windows XP continued this week with consumer groups in the United States and corporations in South Korea petitioning their respective governments to take strong actions against Microsoft. XP is under fire because of the sheer number of features integrated into the OS. With XP, users can digitize and organize photos, rip audio CDs and make custom "mix" CDs, create home movies, play games, surf the Internet, and perform a variety of other tasks that third-party applications previously supplied. In addition, competitors are concerned that Microsoft is tying XP too closely to its online services.
Yesterday, a coalition of US consumer-advocacy groups sent an open letter to state and federal authorities, urging the authorities to be as tough as possible with Microsoft in the remedy phase of the company's antitrust trial. Microsoft, which the court found guilty of illegally abusing its OS monopoly, will soon return to court to discover its fate unless the company can reach a settlement with the government. But the consumer groups are concerned that the government won't go far enough in punishing Microsoft, and they're asking that the company be held to severe business restrictions. They also want consumers to be able to sue Microsoft directly, something that is currently impossible in most US states.
"We urge the attorneys general, who represent consumers as plaintiffs in the case, to seek a swift and sure end to what we believe to be illegal leveraging of illegally obtained monopolies for the PC \[OS\] and Internet browser," the letter reads. Representatives of the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Media Access Project, and the US Public Interest Research Group--which say that XP will hamper innovation and drive up costs--signed the letter.
Microsoft, of course, disagrees. "Windows XP is a product that offers great benefits for consumers and is critically important to the PC industry," a Microsoft representative said yesterday.
In South Korea, 18 corporations, including the country's largest Internet portal, announced that they plan to take joint action against Microsoft because of XP's many software bundles. The announcement came after the companies filed a complaint with the Korea Fair Trade Commission earlier this month. "We are expressing deep concerns about Microsoft's attempt to disrupt the market by selling Windows XP bundled with a variety of application software," the companies wrote in a joint statement. "We officially demand it immediately stop such efforts." The complaint alleges that XP's bundling of instant messaging, online phone capabilities, and digital-photo integration constitutes unfair business practices.
The Korean companies will seek to have XP banned in that country. Barring that move, several of the companies will refuse to sell the product in malls and other retail locations. Microsoft says it is working to solve the problem. "We are willing to talk with Korean companies to remove any misunderstanding about the release of the new \[OS\]," a company spokesperson said.