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The Office of Fair Trading last week began a formal investigation into Microsoft's alleged abuse of its dominant position in the UK's education market.

Following industry complaints, the OFT is to examine Microsoft's Schools Agreement for alleged violation if section 26 of the 1998 Competition Act.

"The OFT has reasonable grounds for suspecting that Microsoft has abused a dominant position through the introduction of its School Agreement licensing option," the government body writes to parties to the complaint.

It is particularly interested in "the requirement for schools licensed under the School Agreement to licence Microsoft software for all their eligible computers, regardless of whether schools then choose to install the licensed Microsoft software on all those computers included within the licensing terms."

Parties to the complaint, including Staffordshire software reseller Learning Machine, which complained about Microsoft's behaviour last December, have been asked to submit evidence by May 7.

The OFT states that it has "reasonable grounds for suspecting that Microsoft has abused a dominant position" through the introduction of its School Agreement licensing option.

The investigation, which the OFT said could take as long at two years to report its findings, will determine if Microsoft is guilty or innocent of the alleged abuse. ®

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