Swiss regulator investigates complaints of high MS prices

Prices for software said to be higher than other European countries

Werner Marti, the Swiss government's Preisüberwacher (price regulator) is taking a close interest in Microsoft's prices in Switzerland, following complaints by Swiss consumers that prices for all Swiss versions of Windows 98 and Office 97 were higher than in other countries. Microsoft immediately reacted with its own survey in Seattle and Zurich, claiming that on average Swiss prices were only 15 percent higher, claiming this was "scarcely surprising". In any event, Fort Redmond claimed, it had no direct control of store prices (which may be news to some stores that have tried to sell Microsoft software as a loss leader). However, Marti had done his own survey using the Internet and said he had found greater differences (including for Office 2000) and that Swiss prices were higher than in other European countries. In an interview on Swiss Radio International yesterday, he said that "If prices are artificially high and there are no reasons for it, we have price surveillance legislation and can ask Microsoft to lower prices". Marti has the power to stop price increases, or insist that prices be lowered in some circumstances. He added that the matter was one of his priorities for this year. In the past, Microsoft has had higher prices in France where it enjoys a high market share, and lower prices in the Netherlands where WordPerfect is a significant competitor. ®

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