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Russia drops Microsoft antitrust case, offers free Vista-for-XP swap

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Russian antitrust regulators dropped their probe into Microsoft's retirement of Windows XP, saying they had found no violations of the law, according to a government statement yesterday.

"The case was terminated in connection with the non-confirmation of a violation of antitrust law by Microsoft," Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) said in a statement Monday (as translated by Google Translate).

In its statement, FAS said that Microsoft had provided proof of several ways users could obtain Windows XP in Russia, including from system builders and on netbooks as well as via "downgrades" from some versions of Vista.

Microsoft sold 1.2 million Russian-localized copies of Windows XP in fiscal year 2008, said FAS.

"Microsoft is committed to full compliance with the laws in Russia," Nikolay Pryanishnikov, the president of Microsoft Russia, said in a statement today. "We are glad that FAS did not find any violation."

Last June, FAS accused Microsoft of abusing its market-dominant position in the operating system business by pulling Windows XP from retail the year before, forcing users to buy Vista despite continued demand for XP.

Microsoft halted retail sales of Windows XP Home and Professional in June 2008, but still allows netbook makers to install the former on their cheap laptops and lets computer manufacturers add the latter as a downgrade from Vista. Downgrades, possible only from Vista Business and Ultimate, will be extended to Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate when the new operating system ships in late October.

As part of the agreement to drop the case, Microsoft will give Russian users the option of exchanging their copies of Vista Home Basic or Vista Home Premium for Windows XP Home, free of charge, FAS said Monday and Microsoft confirmed today. The exchange program will kick off in the next three weeks and will last until the end of 2009.

Microsoft still faces antirust action in the European Union (EU), which filed charges against the company in January over its bundling of Internet Explorer (IE) with Windows. In July, Microsoft proposed a deal that would add a ballot screen to Windows 7, then later to Windows XP and Vista, to let users select from at least four rivals -- Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari -- if their PC has IE set as the default browser.

The EU's antitrust agency is expected to rule on Microsoft's proposal before the end of October.

According to the Reuters news service, FAS will consider another case later this month that involves laptop makers whose PCs contain pre-installed Microsoft software.
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Home>World news>Russia drops Microsoft antitrust case, offers free Vista-for-XP swap
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