Microsoft Might be Controlling Netbook Pricing

Microsoft may be helping netbook makers to control market pricing in an effort to help avoid cannibalizing Windows-based notebook computer sales. Microsoft is apparently ready to announced "maximum hardware requirements" for netbooks running Windows 7, and the specs will force a clear distinction between the netbook and notebook PC markets.

According to InfoWorld, Microsoft has put together new "maximum requirements" for netbooks running Windows 7 that limit the devices to displays no larger than 10.2-inches, but allowing 32GB solid state drives or 160GB hard drives. Vendors selling PCs that fall within Microsoft's guidelines will be eligible for lower-cost Windows 7 pricing, which translates into potentially higher profits for the companies.

With tightly controlled license pricing in place, vendors would need to limit their product designs to Microsoft's specifications, or face dwindling sales to less expensive products from companies that fall in line and pay lower licensing fees.

By controlling the netbook feature set, assuming there isn't a valid technical reason for doing so, Microsoft could find itself on the wrong end of a Department of Justice antitrust investigation.