A non-profit making Internet watchdog has concluded in a report that Microsoft's marketing and business techniques have robbed consumers of their freedom of choice in the browser market.
US-based NetAction (www.netaction.org) surveyed 20 US ISPs and found that only two of the top 12 give consumers a choice of browser by including Netscape's Navigator with their startup software. It further claims the top three consumer ISPs - America Online, CompuServe and Internet MCI - have struck deals with Microsoft to only supply customers with Microsoft's Internet Explorer. In contrast, only three of the top 10 offer Netscape only.
NetAction believes Microsoft will further "limit consumer choice" when it ships Windows 98, as the browser will be built into the operating system.
So concerned is NetAction, that it is using the report to prompt government investigators to look more carefully at anti-trust allegations against Microsoft. The group has published the report on its web site and set-up a survey to gauge user reaction.
Microsoft UK was unable to comment, but US reports quoted Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray as saying: "It's ridiculous to say consumers can't choose Navigator. It's available for download at literally thousands of sites."
Microsoft is under investigation by the Department of Justice on two anti-trust counts. The Federal Trade Commission recently said it would not Sset up an anti-trust investigation as it would duplicate the DoJ's Swork.
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