After a four-year investigation of Microsoft by the South Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), the software giant has threatened to take its ball and go home. The commission is looking into whether Microsoft's inclusion of its instant messaging software and media player in Windows violates the country's antitrust laws. In a new turn, Microsoft has said it may be forced to withdraw Windows from South Korea entirely if the KFTC requires it to tailor a version of Windows specifically for the country.
The fact that the standoff is taking place in South Korea is significant because the nation boasts staggering levels of broadband adoption, gaming and PC usage. While avoiding the trouble of creating a South Korean version of Windows is probably tempting, forcing an entire nation of high-consumption technology users to explore alternatives to the operating system may be more detrimental in the end. If such a shift did take place, the world would surely be watching to see how the change would impact the country and its tech industry.
As issues related to Microsoft's market dominance tend to do, the debate has touched a nerve in the blog world. Many see the threat as yet another bullying tactic meant to strongarm an entire government into relenting to the company's wishes. But some dare to ask the unthinkable: Shouldn't a company be allowed to decide where it does business without being condemned?
Blog community response:
"I don't know how much of this is brinksmanship, but I am wondering what this bodes for the game industry? South Korea is a major force in online gaming, and all of that runs on Windows. Will Microsoft blink? Or will the South Korean government? Or will this mean that we might finally see some games running on Linux?"
--Sketches of a village idiot savant
"I hope that South Korea's decision to continue its inquiry into Microsoft's antitrust violations will spur others to follow suit. This is too important an issue to allow Microsoft to set its own rules, there must be independent oversight."
"Since this news broke, if any CIO manager who is dependent upon Windows is not starting to look for strategic alternatives, that IT mangaer is not doing his or her job."