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MS licensing attacked in New Zealand
By Joe Wilcox and Michael Kanellos

A New Zealand company has filed a complaint against Microsoft, alleging that
a subscription-like software-licensing program violates that country's laws.

The complaint claims that Microsoft's Software Assurance program allows the
Redmond, Wash.-based software giant to take "advantage of its market power
for prohibited purposes" by forcing customers to upgrade their software
faster than they might desire, according to the complaint. The complaint was
filed on behalf of Infraserv, an information technology company owned by
Clendon Feeney, which is the law firm that filed the complaint.

Under Software Assurance, licensees effectively purchase a two-year software
subscription for a specified number of workers. If a company has 1,000
employees and it wants each of them to have Windows and Microsoft Office, it
buys a 1,000-seat license for those software packages.

Subscribers get all updates for free for the next two years, but that's the
rub, according to the complaint. In the past, companies that bought
Microsoft licenses could skip some upgrades to save money. Those older
licensing programs, though, have been phased out.

Among other problems, the new program leads to price increases, according to
the complaint, and eliminates the "presumptive right of loyalty program
discounts on upgrades." The complaint asks the commission to examine whether
it has the power and the grounds to control Microsoft's behavior with regard
to the program. 

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*9/11/2001*  We will never forget -

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