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Friday, 18 May, 2001, 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK
Microsoft accused of net 'monopolising'
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates says dot.Net is the future
Microsoft has been accused of plotting to monopolise internet communications.

The software giant's rivals say its new dot.Net strategy is a "Microsoft Windows for the internet".

With Microsoft's appeal against the landmark antitrust ruling still hanging over it, the company's competitors have claimed it is guilty of "separate and even more serious violations of anti-trust law".

Procomp, a group funded by some of the software giant's competitors, has criticised the new system that Microsoft has described as its "whole strategy for the future" and on which it spends a large chunk of its estimated $5bn budget for research and development.

It argues that dot.Net, the software giant's attempt to strike out beyond the desktop operating systems, is the company's "current strategy to extend and preserve its monopoly position".

Embracing the net

Dot.Net, Microsoft says, is the next step in the internet revolution.

For example if you wanted to turn up the heat in your house while you were away from home, you could use dot.Net to do this, on a high-tech mobile phone, your PC or any other internet-enabled device.

A key feature of dot.Net is the weaving of network connections into Microsoft's software.

Instead of starting and switching between programmes, users will do everything more simply - from one screen.

It will also be tailored to the individual user. For example a smart phone could use a wireless network to gather information about its owner.

Address books, calendars and personal preferences would be automatically loaded once the device knew who was using it.

Any updates could be automatically distributed to every other device that person owns.

'Subscription service'

Microsoft's rivals accuse the company of unfairly pushing its standards on everyone, complaining that it is "turning the internet into a big Microsoft subscription service - taking services that are currently free and turning them into revenue streams for Microsoft".

Microsoft itself, which admits that some of these services will be paid for, denies any accusations of monopolising the market.

"We've always found that unless you have a great product and a great solution, then people don't buy it," Phil Cross, Microsoft's developer marketing manager in the UK, told BBC News Online.

"I think they should concentrate on trying to deliver great solutions to their own customers.

"Some would be chargeable, some would be free, some would be paid for by the service that wanted to get access to it," he added.

XP operating system

Microsoft's new XP operating system, due to be launched to great fanfare in late October, has also come under fire.

The company claims Windows XP will be its most important new product since Windows 95.

But critics are unhappy that Microsoft is bundling its own free software automatically with the program, which is the first to be developed for both home and office use.

They claim that by doing this the company gets an automatic monopoly and edges its rivals out of the market.

See also:

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