New York’s Intel probe may start new IT antitrust battle

State investigates hardware side of Wintel dynasty, after playing key role in Microsoft caseWith its launching of an antitrust investigation of Intel Corp., New York’s state government is once again taking a leading role in challenging a titan of the technology industry. The state played a key role in the antitrust case against Microsoft Corp., which was settled five years ago, and by its action today opens up the possibility of another landmark legal battle against a powerful and influential IT vendor.Intel already has been facing probes of its microprocessor business practices in Europe, Japan and South Korea. But the company hadn’t been the subject of any investigations in the U.S. until New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced that his office had issued a subpoena seeking business records and information related to the chip maker’s pricing policies and possible attempts to quash competitors through the use of its market power.In a statement, Cuomo outlined reasons for carrying out the probe that are reminiscent of the concerns raised about Microsoft at the onset of that case in 1998. A key issue then was Microsoft’s power over PC vendors because of its desktop operating systems dominance. Among the issues that Cuomo said his office will look at are allegations that Intel penalized computer makers for purchasing x86 processors from its rivals and that it paid chip customers in return for exclusive sourcing deals.

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