Microsoft hits back at French investigation

Software company charges it's just doing what consumers want, says it's ready for any government action.

Microsoft's PR machine has responded angrily to news that the French government is examining complaints of possible unfair trading practices directed against the software giant.

The French Finance and Industry Ministry took the decision after receiving complaints from a number of customers unhappy that Windows came preinstalled on their new PCs.

Microsoft's statement reads: "The allegations against Microsoft reported by the press have no basis in law or fact. Microsoft's contracts with PC manufacturers do not, in any way, prevent the manufacturers from offering PC's with competing operating systems or without any operating systems."

Microsoft also argues that Windows pre-installed is in fact precisely what users want. It goes on to say, "They [PC manufacturers] are free to pre-install various operating systems; when they choose to ship Microsoft software it is because this is what their customers are requesting."

The investigation could develop into a warning letter to Microsoft, a formal consultation with the corporation or even a full-blown antitrust investigation, according to reports.

Whatever the outcome, Microsoft says it is ready. "If we were to be contacted by the authorities, we would of course offer our complete co-operation. Microsoft takes every consumer issue very seriously, and we are, as always, confident that we act within the law.

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