Think tank to EU: Unbundle Windows on PCs

Globalization Institute recommends PCs be sold without operating systems to allow for OS competition and innovation.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi

The Globalization Institute, a Brussels-based European Union think tank, has recommended the EU require all PCs to be sold without preloaded operating systems such as Microsoft Windows.

There is no reason why computer operating systems could not follow the same model as computer hard drives and processors, which comply with standards that allow for broad compatibility as well as competition in the market, said the report, which was submitted to the EU's regulatory body, the European Commission.

Such a policy would lead to increased competition and innovation in the area of computer operating systems, something the Globalization Institute report said it believes the EU is looking for.

"For two decades, Microsoft has enjoyed monopolistic power in the operating system market. The Competition Commissioner has signaled the desire to see more competition in this sector. Unbundling would foster a competitive market, increase consumer choice and reduce prices," said the Globalization Institute report (click here for PDF).

The signal the institute refers to is the September 17, 2007, ruling in which the EU's Court of First Instance upheld commission rulings requiring Microsoft to share certain technical specifications with rivals and to offer customers an unbundled option in cases where Microsoft has tied together two separate products. The court ruling also upheld a $613 million antitrust fine against Microsoft that had been imposed by the European Commissioner for Competition, Neelie Kroes.