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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.

  • 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?
    Reply
  • 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.)
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • megabuster
    How is a feature of an OS a monopolistic practice? So Google should be able to sue Microsoft and Mac for imbedding indexed search engine instead of using Google Desktop? Why don't they just beg for humanitarian aid if they need money that bad!
    Reply
  • jhansonxi
    curnel_DIf 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.The warez community would come to their rescue.
    Reply
  • GoodBytes
    We all know that this is all B.S from E.U. They need money, and are bullies that's all, else they would sue many other companies like Apple.

    There are no advantage in removing IE. IE is already out of the explorer shell since Vista. Save space on your HDD you say? on your 2TB HDD you 'really' need that 20mb free, nice... like I said, no reason.

    And without IE, how are you supposed to download special drivers (not found in Windows update) or the latest version, or even download your web browser that you want to use? and I ask especially if you have 1 computer and if you are not a computer enthusiast.

    However there is an alternative for Microsoft, but I think Microsoft knows it still won't work: Have a check box in Windows setup "Install Internet Explorer"
    Reply
  • dariushro
    semmsterSince 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.
    As a web developer i'll tell you this,

    IE is fucked up, it gives all developers a hard time, it doesn't follow the W3C standards as it should...give standard compliant browsers a chance to compete, and you will see the quality of websites will rise.
    Reply
  • bydesign
    I can tell you this if they don't fix IE8 this wont be an issue. It crashes almost every session. While I think the EU is a joke I also agree with dariushro in they need to stick to the standards.
    Reply
  • frozenlead
    GoodBytes has a point. If Windows doesn't come with some sort of web browser, how on earth are you supposed to acquire a different one? Not everyone has Firefox setup on a flash drive. (I've had it there since beta..lawlz.)
    Reply
  • Eggrenade
    If IE isn't bundled then how does the EU people to download other browsers? Do they really want people to have to pay for a boxed version? Are they that stupid? And is there really any money in free browsers? And why don't they care about Apple bundling Safari? IMO the US government should not allow the EU to bully is around that much. We should simply say that if they don't want to play fairly in any industry, then they won't play at all. We already have a trade deficit as it is, do they really think they deserve an advantage. Maybe we should also stop fighting terrorism for them. See how they like that.
    Reply