EU think tank urges Windows unbundling

The Globalisation Institute, a Brussels, Belgium-based think tank, has issued a paper to the European Commission urging the unbundling of Windows from retail PCs. According to the paper (PDF), if the Commission truly wants to foster competition in the desktop operating system market, it must "require all desktop and laptop computers sold within the EU to be sold without operating systems."

The paper argues that if PC vendors choose from a number of different hardware component manufacturers to build commodity systems, the same should apply with the operating system. However, it says consumers who walk into retail stores cannot buy a commodity PC without automatically paying for Windows. The paper adds that operating systems are "not a natural monopoly." In a competitive OS market, OS makers would strive for broad compatibility "just as evolving standards in hardware allow the combination of competition and compatibility."

If operating systems were unbundled from commodity PCs, the Institute believes price-conscious customers such as students would opt for cheaper OSes than Windows. Nonetheless, PC vendors "would still be able to recommend particular operating systems." Vendors could also compete by listing the operating systems their PCs had been certified to run.

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