The row over price advantages given to Microsoft OEM partners will rumble on, despite Gateway 2000?s decision to stop selling Office 97 upgrades for only #20.
On Monday, Microsoft announced it would be releasing two versions of Office 97: the Var edition and the small business edition. The second will be made available at OEM prices to systems integrators regardless of size. The scheme will go on trial in the US for three months, when its suitability for other areas will be assessed.
Last year, the Personal Computer Association complained to the EU about competitive advantages given to Dell and Gateway by Microsoft, allowing them to buy the Office suite at far lower prices than the rest of the channel.
EU commissioner Karel Van Miert has now issued a statement saying he is investigating complaints of unfair competition.
The channel has complained that it is not being allowed to compete on a level playing field. Martin Hellawell, general manager of Computacenter, said: ?This is becoming a real problem for the whole channel. We?re very upset and annoyed.?
Microsoft Office product manager Jonathon Hulse was unrepentant. ?I can?t see why anyone should have a problem with this,? he said.
Sources close to Microsoft claim it is about to climb down over the OEM issue. Steve Ballmer, executive VP of sales and support, flew in from the US at the end of January and is believed to have been discussing the problems facing the UK channel. But a representative of Microsoft UK said this was not the case.
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