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Microsoft bows to complaint from Linpro

Microsoft has agreed to change the terms of its school agreement with Norwegian regional municipalities, following a complaint by Norwegian company Linpro to The Norwegian Competition Authority (NCA).

Faced with possible sanctions from the NCA, Microsoft has «introduced two kinds of flexibility in the agreement, that were previously missing» states Microsoft Norway's CEO Knut Aasrud in a comment to Norwegian daily Dagbladet.

Schools will no longer be subjected to Windows licensing for Linux or Mac computers. Furthermore, Microsoft has accepted to discontinue their commercial bundling which required schools to buy several Microsoft products to obtain discounts.

Linpro CEO Trond Heier considers this a victory for supporters of fair competition and open source software: - Norwegian schools now have economic incentives to evaluate open source alternatives to Microsoft software, such as Linux and Openoffice.org.

The NCA has been working on Linpro's complaint for a year, looking into both the technological and legal aspects.

– We made it clear to Microsoft that we were preparing sanctions, as the school agreements excluxded competitors from this market. Now that they have met our demands, we dismiss the case, says NCA department director Jostein Skaar to Norwegian daily Dagbladet.

From now on, schools will only be licensed for PCs actually using Microsoft software, and not for all computers, including PCs using software from competitors like Linux, Mac and Openoffice.org.

- Many organizations around the world have challenged Microsoft on their competition-restrictive policy, but very few have succeeded, says Linpro CEO Trond Heier. He hopes that the outcome of this case will foster new behavior from Microsoft as well as from purchasers.

The background for Linpro's complaint was an extensive discount agreement signed by Microsoft and 12 regional municipalities in December 2005. The agreement blocked other providers and solutions, including inexpensive, open source software. Furthermore, schools were licenced by Microsoft for the total number of computers, regardless of the operating system or software used.

Linpro (www.linpro.no/en) is a Norwegian IT provider offering extensive services and solutions based on Linux and open source software.