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Right-wing think tank says break MS Windows

Split OS operations into competing companies

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A right-wing Washington think tank is to call for the breakup of Microsoft later today. The Progress & Freedom Foundation, which is run by former members of the Reagan and Bush administrations, has scheduled a press conference for 11am US Eastern time today to present Creating Competition in the Market for Operating Systems: A Structural Remedy for Microsoft. The Foundation won't be releasing the paper until the beginning of the conference, but according to the San Jose Mercury, which has obtained a copy (apparently on condition it doesn't talk about it, which is a bit weird), it calls for the breakup of Microsoft's OS operations into a number of competing companies. This is an unusual stance for a conservative organisation, but is in accordance with the views expressed earlier this month by Foundation president Jeff Eisenach, speaking to Forbes magazine. Then he said: "The operating system side [of Microsoft] would be sliced into entities that compete." The pitch the Foundation intends to make with the paper appears to be that "conduct remedies," i.e. the likes controlling the scope of Microsoft's OEM conduct and pricing, would be unnecessarily interventionist and damaging to the industry, while a 'big bang' breakup remedy would be preferable, because it's a one time solution. After reinjecting competition by producing a clutch of companies selling Windows, the government could just walk away. Breaking up Microsoft into several companies is a commonly-suggested solution, and seems to be favoured by the DoJ. But the setting up of multiple OS companies seems a messy, confusing and probably destructive way to go about it, so the Foundation's arguments here should be worth listening to. The Foundation, by the way, has an interesting and broad-ranging list of contributors. IBM, HP, Compaq, Intel, Sun, Sony, News Corp, Time Warner - it's wide-ranging and relatively eclectic. Microsoft isn't listed though. ®

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