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One of Microsoft's rivals says it expects Europe's competition regulator to launch a fresh investigation in the company's bundling practices. Sage Software made its statements when Microsoft announced plans to include a small business accounting program in the Office product suite.

A spokesman for Sage said that as Office is a monopoly, bundling products into it is unfairly leveraging that monopoly, Computerwire reports.

Microsoft points out that the program is still in beta testing, and that pricing and packaging have yet to be finalised. But it is still hedging its bets a little, and is making the product available as a standalone product, or as part of a new Office suite specifically aimed at small business users.

"Other Office suites will continue to be available - without Small Business Accounting included," it said.

The decision to sell the software alone, as well as bundling it, refects the anti-trust ruling that Microsoft had unfairly used its Windows monopoly to break into new markets. The company is currently appealing the ruling that it make Windows available with and without Media Player, and the €497m fine the commission has imposed.

So, is this likely to prompt a new investigation? Or is Microsoft doing enough by promising to make available a version without the bundled addition? The Competition Commission was unable to provide comment in time for this article, but we will update the story as soon as we hear anything further. ®

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