Following the unsuccessful attempt by U.S. authorities nearly ten years ago, Europe’s top most antitrust authority, the European Commission, has formally charged Microsoft with similar accusations of antitrust.
Europe had reached the results it was looking for five years ago when it fined Microsoft over similar offences for just over US$1 billion and had ordered them to change how they do business. Present day however, the Commission has delivered its charges to the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, last Thursday. The charges arrived in the form of a formal statement of objections. Microsoft is expected to review the charges and have a response within the next two months.
After a failed court appeal by Microsoft last year against the original European antitrust ruling, the new charges are just some of the many charges anticipated – originally stemming from a complaint lodged from the Norwegian browser developer, Opera Software.
Jon von Tetzchner, Opera Software CEO, welcomed the Commission’s decision to move forward with the charges. Internet Explorer is still the most widely used browser, even though its market share dipped slightly below 70 percent in 2008. Opera’s share was around 0.71 percent. Quoting Tetzcher :
Quoting Tetzcher from an interview scooped by PC World regarding the charges.
“It’s clear they are taking this very seriously. It’s a problem for companies like ours if Microsoft doesn’t support the open standards we all apply, because many Web sites are designed to work with IE, which means our browsers won’t always work out of the box.”
Tetzchner said that he hopes the Commission does not apply the same remedy it did in its last ruling against Microsoft, where Microsoft was ordered to offer a second version of Windows alongside the regular version of the software, but lacking a bundled copy of Windows Media Player.
“That’s not really what we are looking for as a remedy for the bundling of IE. The only way to give users a genuine choice is to strip out IE from Windows and either replace it with a rival browser or offer users a list of browsers to choose from.” said Tetzchner.
At the same time the Commission opened this investigation into the bundling of Internet Explorer, they also opened a separate probe to see if Microsoft is actively withholding information from companies that want to make products compatible with its Microsoft Office productivity suite.