FTC Charges Microsoft

26-Feb-01 - False and misleading advertising - and not for the first time, either.

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The Federal Trade Commission has charged Microsoft with false and misleading advertising for the second time in the last 12 months. In this case Microsoft's advertisement showed a Windows CE device communicating over a wireless link while making fun of a comparably price Palm Pilot which clearly could not.

What made the advertising false and misleading was failure to disclose that the CE device was using an additional cost extra compared to a stock Palm Pilot - an obsolete model Palm Pilot at that - and failure to clearly state that current model Palm Pilots have this capability built in, not as an added cost extra.

In the previous case, Microsoft's WebTV advertising stated costs that were not the full costs, and implied the set top box had full Internet access when it's access is quite restricted. Microsoft bought off the case without admitting guilt, to avoid yet another guilty verdict.

Analysis

No matter how many times they are found guilty, and no matter how many cases they just buy off to save the trouble of being found guilty, the boys of Redmond still think they are above the law.

In actuality, this is probably quite deliberate. They figure by time the law catches up with them, the damage is already done, and it's not going to get undone. They have so much money they just consider the fines and penalties an acceptable cost of doing business.

Before you run off and say "more power to them!", remember this. That's money they've taken from you, and they're using it to prevent you from having better products.

- Andrew Grygus

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©:Andrew Grygus - Automation Access - www.aaxnet.com - aax@aaxnet.com
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