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The Register: MS France in shock Linux availability claim

“The French authorities seem to be trying to limit the
reverberations of their investigation of Microsoft, which leaked
out last week. The French competition and anti-fraud directorate
(DNERF) of the ministry of finance’s probe is in response to
complaints by consumers that they do not want to have Windows
pre-loaded.”

“Just one person in France is known to have been successful in
obtaining a refund for Windows 98: Remi Lacombe, a teacher,
received FF1690 by not accepting the end user licence agreement.
But there’s a separate spat going on in France; the French Canadian
version of Windows is sold for around half the price of the French
version, so distributors are bringing in grey versions. DNERF
apparently does not want this issue to escalate and it points out
that this could be a contract law matter, rather than a competition
law issue. If the same complaints are found to in other EU
countries and cross-border trade is involved (perhaps to
francophone Belgium), it is quite possible that DNERF would boot
the problem to the European Commission’s DGIV competition
directorate…”

“Microsoft’s reaction so far is bizarre. John Frank,
Microsoft’s Paris-based head lawyer in Europe, said that even
though OEMs have MDAs (market development agreements) to ship an
operating system with new PCs, they were at liberty to install
competing operating systems. If true – and Microsoft is unlikely to
disclose any details of its contracts unless compelled to do so –
then Microsoft could conceivably be paying OEMs some MDA dollars to
load Linux.
But we have our doubts about MDAs that permit that
sort of stuff.”

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