SPA anti-monopoly paper angers MS

The Software Publishers Association's largest dues-paying member, Microsoft Corp., is none too pleased about the trade group's list of principles for assuring competition in the software industry, released Tuesday.

The document, which strikes out at "established incumbents" that might "exploit their market power in existing markets in ways that foreclose rivals' opportunities to reach consumers," never mentions the software behemoth by name, and SPA President Ken Wasch was widely quoted in the wake of its release as saying it wasn't targeted at Microsoft (MSFT). But Microsoft officials remain unconvinced.

Company spokespersons called the SPA's principles biased and said they reflected the input of SPA sub-committee members from archrival software makers Oracle Corp. (ORCL) and Netscape Communications Corp. (NSCP)

SPA officials said the document was proposed to help guide government officials in setting antitrust policy. Among the actions it decries is the leveraging of a dominant operating system to increase distribution of other software tools, something Microsoft now faces antitrust action for doing in the case of its Internet Explorer Web browser.

The guidelines also discourage software companies from making pre-announcements of products that are in an early stage of development, saying such "vaporware" announcements from major players often hurt sales of smaller companies' products.