Feeds

Suit trails $30 billion tab for MS Windows ‘over-charging’

But it'll take a lot more work to make that one stick...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Telephone numbers far too long to remember are beginning to be tacked onto the class action lawsuits being launched against Microsoft, on behalf of lucky American consumers - the latest, filed in Ohio yesterday by attorney Stanley Chesley, is based on the premise that the Beast of Redmond has contrived to extract $10 billion in excess pricing by over-pricing Windows. Chesley's day job seems to include beating the crap out of the tobacco companies, so he knows about huge piles of money, and the way things have been going in recent years (as far as tobacco goes, anyway) has no doubt led him to believe that he knows how to extract it, too. Speaking to Reuters yesterday he claimed to have estimates that Microsoft had over-charged US consumers by $10 billion, and happily suggested that a win in the lawsuit would result in a tripled award of - phew - $30 billion. But as far as the territory covered in the current antitrust case is concerned, Chesley's numbers are almost certainly too high. One of the more thorough estimates of Microsoft overcharging, published last January and reported in The Register here, was carried out by the Consumer Federation of America. This came up with a total tab of $10 billion, but did so on the basis of the estimated total increase on Microsoft's per-PC revenue for bundled software. That included applications, and you may recall that although the US states' lawsuit intended to pursue Microsoft in the applications market originally, this aspect was dropped from the suit when it was consolidated with the DoJ's. So even if Judge Jackson's final (?) verdict establishes consumer harm, it will only do so in the OS market - consumer harm for applications remains to be proved. Nevertheless, the ambulance-chasing attorneys and maybe the odd PC OEM (if they're hard enough) could well find their thoughts turning to apps as they chase the really big money. The Consumer Federation of America study reckoned that Microsoft's per-PC revenue rose from $25 in 1990 to $62 in 1996 (and wouldn't fresher figures be interesting). That increase has been caused by the bundling of Windows with the OS, followed by its integration (allowing the total price to go down while stopping you buying just the OS), and by the additional bundling of applications. Effectively, the increase in Microsoft's per-PC revenue has been achieved via bundling of more and more products. It hasn't entirely been compulsory to bundle the apps, but as the trial evidence clearly shows there has undoubtedly been pressure on OEMs to go with Microsoft applications rather than, say, Lotus. So the application-based lawsuit really ought to come, because Microsoft's sales come in large part via the OEM channel, and because it's actually difficult to quantify harm if you don't consider apps sales, which are deeply bound into OS sales. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.