57. Software never expires, so consumers who already have a version of Windows with which they are content and who are not shopping for a new PC system are somewhat reluctant to incur the cost of upgrading to a new version of Windows. Fortunately for Microsoft, the pace of innovation in PC hardware is rapid, and the price of that hardware has declined steadily in recent years. As a result, existing PC users buy new PC systems relatively frequently, and OEMs still attract at a healthy rate buyers who have never owned a computer. The license for one of Microsoft's operating system products prohibits the user from transferring the operating system to another machine, so there is no legal secondary market in Microsoft operating systems. This means that any consumer who buys a new Intel-compatible PC and wants Windows must buy a new copy of the operating system. Microsoft takes pains to ensure that the versions of its operating system that OEMs pre-install on new PC systems are the most current. It does this, in part, by increasing the price to OEMs of older versions of Windows when the newer versions are released. Since Microsoft can sell so many copies of each new operating system through the sales of new PC systems, the average price it sets for those systems is little affected by the fact that older versions of Windows never wear out.
Microsoft Findings Home
Findings of Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, Nov. 5, 1999