58. Although there is no legal secondary market for Microsoft's PC operating systems, there is a thriving illegal one. Software pirates illegally copy software products such as Windows, selling each copy for a fraction of the vendor's usual price. One of the ways Microsoft combats piracy is by advising OEMs that they will be charged a higher price for Windows unless they drastically limit the number of PCs that they sell without an operating system pre-installed. In 1998, all major OEMs agreed to this restriction. Naturally, it is hard to sell a pirated copy of Windows to a consumer who has already received a legal copy included in the price of his new PC system. Thus, Microsoft is able to effectively contain, if not extinguish, the illegal secondary market for its operating-system products. So even though Microsoft is more concerned about piracy than it is about other firms' operating system products, the company's pricing is not substantially constrained by the need to reduce the incentives for consumers to acquire their copies of Windows illegally.
Microsoft Findings Home
Findings of Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, Nov. 5, 1999