Yesterday, a Beijing court banned Microsoft from selling four versions of its Windows software in China.
With immaculate timing, the court released its judgement just as Barack Obama and Hu Jintao were making the usual platitudes about recognizing "the importance of global trade" and being committed to stave off protectionism.
The court decided that Microsoft had breached its agreement with Zhongyi over its use of Chinese fonts. Zhongyi said that Microsoft had only licensed its fonts for Windows 95, but had gone on to use them in Windows 98, 2000, 2003 and XP.
(Presumably Microsoft has resolved the issue in Windows Vista and 7, since they aren’t included in the ruling).
Microsoft said it will appeal.
But does Bill Gates really want to win this case? Surely this is a great opportunity to push its very latest and most expensive software (Windows 7) and claim that it is legally unable to sell its back catalogue.
Windows XP remains the most popular operating system in China, and the company must have been wondering how they could persuade all those Chinese computer users to upgrade. Now they have an easy solution.
Microsoft could even do a deal with the Chinese authorities, asking them to crack down on piracy since they only have two products left on the market. It’s a win-win.
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