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CF files FTC complaint against Microsoft

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Consumers' Foundation (CF), a private consumer watchdog, filed a complaint yesterday with the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) against Microsoft over the software giant's pulling Windows XP from the Taiwan market in line with its migration to the new operating system Vista.

The CF urged the government body to impose sanctions on Microsoft for the termination of Windows XP sales in Taiwan.

"We suggest that the FTC slap Microsoft with a heavy fine for impairing market fairness," said CF Acting Chairman Hsieh Tien-jen while delivering the complaint to the commission.

Microsoft, with an overwhelming share of the local market, stopped selling the XP operating system in Taiwan at the end of June, a move leaving most users with little choice but to buy personal computers (PCs) bundled with Vista.

Users of PCs currently running on XP may also have to upgrade to Vista, as Microsoft will eventually stop providing updates and technical support for the old operating system.

Vista was launched in 2007, but its acceptance in Taiwan and many other parts of the world has been slow.

Chou Ya-shu, an FTC commissioner, told CNA that the commission is now investigating to see whether Microsoft's promotion of Vista is a case of unfair market practice. If the case is upheld, Microsoft could be given a maximum fine of NT$25 million, said Chou.

"We will review the Consumers' Foundation's complaint and its suggestions on how we can facilitate our investigation," she said. She declined to say how long the investigation might last.

On June 30, the CF urged Microsoft Taiwan Corp., the local branch of the U.S. giant, to continue selling XP and offering technical support. The company ignored the call.

Hsieh claimed that a recent survey the CF conducted recently showed that over half of local users would choose to replace Vista with XP when buying computers bundled with the new operating system.

"Sixty-seven percent of local users want a return of XP to the market," he said, citing the results of another poll.

He described Microsoft's marketing strategy as an abuse of consumer rights.

He said local consumers might be discouraged from replacing their old computers because of the unwanted Vista and this would dampen the hardware market.

Microsoft Taiwan was cited by the United Evening News as saying that the termination of XP sales in Taiwan is part of the parent company's global strategy.

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