Microsoft Faces More Anti-Trust Battles

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.

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  • jhansonxi
    Removing IE would help security but I don't know if Opera is any better. Opera is not a bad browser and is cross-platform but who is going to bother writing malware for it with such a low market share?
  • curnel_D
    It seems like the European union is more intent on bullying american companies into paying them billions of dollars than actually giving every company a fair shot.

    I remember something like this happening in California with Barrett Rifles. The cali gov decided that their guns looked too mean, so the prohibited their sales to the public. Not long after, Barrett decided to halt any weapon sales to Cali law inforcement, which led to criminals having their powerful and state of the art weapons, and the law enforcement struggling to find a replacement company.

    I think this is exactly what Microsoft should do. If the European union wants to wail about internet explorer, then microsoft should just stop selling their software in any countries that the EU has any authority, and let the citizens decide how to deal with their union.
    (Which wouldnt last all that long, I suspect. The average user buying a computer would be forced into linux or the overpriced mac, realize that they cant use it, and raise hell until something happened.)
  • semmster
    Since many websites are designed specifically for IE, obviously the specifications should be freely available to other browser makers. Please, leave IE where it is. Let the other browsers compete based on ease of use, visual appeal etc. I'm totally unafraid of trying other browsers but I always come back to IE. It's just plain easier to use.