Ahead of its appeal against last year’s antitrust ruling, software colossus Microsoft is again under scrutiny for its alleged sharp business practices, this time concerning a “false and deceptive” series of ads.

The Federal Trade Commission is studying a comparative campaign in magazines and newspapers last year contrasting the benefits of Microsoft’s hand-held devices with those of market leader Palm.

It is alleged that the ads, headed Can Your Palm Do That?, failed to mention that several of the features on display were only available if customers paid extra to get wireless capability – a built-in property of Palm’s devices. The only reference to this came in the small print at the bottom of the ads – print so small, in fact, as to be virtually unreadable.

Microsoft stands accused alongside Hewlett-Packard, a co-advertiser in the anti-Palm campaign. The software titan has faced similar accusations before, having landed itself in trouble with the FTC last year for failing to disclose the full cost of its WebTV system [WAMN: 26-Oct-00]. On that occasion, it reached a settlement without admitting any wrongdoing – an outcome it is believed to be seeking in the current case.

News source: Wall Street Journal