Legal Silliness: Microsoft Faces Vista Antitrust Probe in Taiwan

The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) in Taiwan has launched an antitrust probe of Microsoft centered on Windows Vista. Unbelievably, the probe came about after a complaint filed by an activist group claiming they were "forced" to buy Vista after Microsoft stopped mainstream sales of its predecessor, Windows XP, on June 30.

"We have received the complaint and are now conducting our own investigation, which may last around six months," a Taiwanese FTC spokesperson said. Microsoft faces fines of up to $800,000 if found guilty of fair trade abuses and can be ordered to halt the offending practices, according to FTC guidelines.

That said, it's hard to imagine any legal entity requiring Microsoft to begin reselling an ancient software product that is not as functional, secure, or reliable as its successor. Microsoft has already extended the support lifecycle of Windows XP several times, and kept the product on the market far longer than any previous version of Windows.

According to the Consumer Foundation, a Taiwan-based non-profit organization, Microsoft stopped selling XP solely to spur sales of Vista. However, this claim is spurious: Microsoft sold over 40 million copies of Windows Vista in Q2 2008, before it removed XP from the market. More to the point, consumers who really want XP can still get it: Through a long-standing "downgrade" option that pre-dates either OS in question, consumers can opt to get XP instead of Vista on PCs from a wide range of PC makers.

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