Commerce Commission strikes out Microsoft complaint

The Commerce Commission has decided that Microsoft has not breached the Commerce Act.

The Commerce Commission has decided that Microsoft has not breached the Commerce Act.

The finding comes three months after Infraserv, a division of Auckland law firm Clendon Feeney, laid a complaint with the commission accusing the software company of anti-competitive behaviour.

The complaint asked the commission to investigate Microsoft on the grounds that its conduct demonstrated a major market problem and disregarded the Commerce Act. It was spurred by changes the company made to its licensing model and the introduction of a licensing programme called Software Assurance. The programme requires customers pay two years in advance for the right to any Microsoft software upgrades, regardless of whether or not the company releases any within those two years. In the past customers have bought upgrades as they required them.

Commerce Commission spokeswoman Jackie Maitland says the commission won’t be investigating the matter any further as it has decided that Microsoft hasn’t breached the act.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce is looking at a separate complaint, filed by Clendon Feeney last week, alleging that Microsoft has transgressed the Fair Trading Act.

That complaint relates to an electronic brochure issued by Microsoft to software dealers entitled "Licensing Programs Change After July 31: Understand Your Options".

The brochure says if customers buy an Upgrade Advantage licence before July 31 they are guaranteed the right to upgrade to the current version of a product as well as rights to the forthcoming version at no additional charge.

Clendon Feeney alleges the brochure breaches section nine of the Fair Trading Act, which deals with misleading conduct. Partner Craig Horrocks says it’s misleading to say customers are guaranteed rights to forthcoming products and that the brochure may not accurately summarise the contractual provisions in Microsoft's Open Licence 6.0.

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