Consent Decree Over, Microsoft Goes Back to Monopoly Forced Bundling

Charlie Demerjian | SemiAccurate | June 21, 2012

Remember that pesky monopoly verdict against Microsoft that ended in a toothless consent decree? Would it shock you to hear that the second the DOJ’s eyes are off, Microsoft jumped right back to forced bundling to stifle competition?

No, we are not talking about the locked bootloader that Microsoft is mandating its partners use on any WART (Windows ARM RT) device, this one is more devious. Remember how Microsoft bundled Internet Explorer with Windows 98 by force, making it non-removable and mandatory, in order to crush the life out of Netscape? They are doing it again with Office, but this time it isn’t ‘free’ you have to pay full price for it, and the target is iOS and Android. Luckily, the last vestiges of that pesky consent decree expired a few years ago, and at least in the US, government oversight is openly purchasable.

What am I talking about? When SemiAccurate was at Computex a few weeks ago, we confirmed the rumors that Microsoft is asking $80-90 for WART licenses from OEMs. That is a lot, infinitely more than what Apple and Android licensees pay. How can they justify this when a full blown copy of Windows 7 costs large OEMs only $35 or so? Two to three times that is a lot for a cut down version, especially in a market that is as price constrained as tablets. That kind of BoM premium makes a massive difference to end user pricing, rising yet farther when you have to pack more hardware in to support Microsoft code bloat...