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Russia drops Windows XP antimonopoly case

Microsoft will offer XP to some Vista customers

Russia has dropped an antimonopoly case against Microsoft that was brought over the company's decision to withdraw its XP OS from the market.

The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), which filed the case in June, said the company may have violated Russian competition law by withdrawing boxed and OEM (original equipment manufacturer) versions of Windows XP from the market on June 30.

The FAS had said there was still demand for those versions. The FAS was also investigating why Microsoft had charged different rates for the same version of XP while also trying to reduce the number of new computers shipped with XP installed.

Microsoft did not admit a violation of antimonopoly law, the FAS said in a press release. Microsoft Russia said in a statement it was pleased the FAS did not find a violation on the part of the company.

"We appreciate the careful approach FAS took to the issues," according to Nikolay Pryanishnikov, president of Microsoft Russia.

But the company did make several changes in order to make Windows XP available longer in Russia.

Microsoft will now allow people who have bought the basic and premium versions of Windows Vista after January 1 to exchange those OSes for Windows XP. The programme will start in about three weeks, the FAS said.

"This was a unique offer that was developed especially for Russia," Microsoft said in a statement.

The business and ultimate versions of Windows Vista in Russia already have 'downgrade' rights that allows people to install Windows XP Pro instead of Vista.

The XP programme will end, however, on December 31. "We believe that sales of Windows Vista and XP will decrease very rapidly immediately after Windows 7 is released on October 22," Microsoft said.

There are other limitations. The exchange programme is limited to no more than 25 copies of Windows Vista, as the programme is intended to benefit consumers rather than traders and resellers, Microsoft said.

Enterprise customers that have volume licence agreements are already allowed to downgrade from Vista to XP. Customers who have more than 25 PCs but will not benefit from the exchange programme should contact Microsoft, the company said.

Microsoft also submitted a strategy for the phased replacement in respect to Windows XP, Vista and its forthcoming operating system, Windows 7, the FAS said.

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