Saturday, January 17, 2009

Microsoft Hit With More Antitrust Charges

The European Commission has once again filled Antitrust charges against software giant Microsoft, alleging that the companies inclusion of the Internet Explorer (IE) browser with the Windows operating system infringes the EC Treaty rules on abuse of a dominant position.

According to the European Commission's Statement of Objections to Microsoft the commission feels Microsoft’s tying of Internet Explorer to the Windows operating system, "harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice."

"Yesterday, Microsoft received a Statement of Objections from the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission," the company said in a statement on Friday. "The Statement of Objections expresses the Commission's preliminary view that the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows since 1996 has violated European competition law."

Microsoft has 8 weeks to reply to the SO, and will then have the right to be heard in an oral hearings. If found guilty of violating the antitrust laws the Commission may impose a fine on Microsoft, require Microsoft to cease the abuse and impose a remedy that would restore genuine consumer choice and enable competition on the merits.

Opera Software CEO Jon von Tetzchner has released the following statement:
"On behalf of all Internet users, we commend the Commission for taking the next step towards restoring competition in a market that Microsoft has strangled for more than a decade. The Commission’s Statement of Objections demonstrates that the Commission is serious about getting Microsoft to start competing on the merits in the browser market and letting consumers have a real choice of internet browsers.

The browser is the consumer’s gateway to the Internet and a critical platform for application development itself. Today the Commission has confirmed that it will do what it can to make sure consumers are able to continue to freely enjoy one of the most important innovations in the history of humanity: the Internet.”

In a phone interview with NetworkWorld Tetzchner claimed that the software giant was undermining open software standards on the Internet.

"Its 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," he said.

With a market share of nearly 70% Internet Explore is still the most widely used browser on the web today. Although recent numbers would suggest third party browsers are gaining popularity as IE's share has fallen below the 70% mark for the first time ever. If Microsoft is forced to remove IE from its bundled software it is likely that we'll see a much larger decline in their overall market share.

However that is unlikely to happen. In their previous rulings the Commission ordered Microsoft to offer a second version of Windows alongside the regular version of the software, but without a bundled copy of Windows Media Player. Microsoft complied with that ruling by offering both choices with no price difference.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments will be moderate for content, please be patient as your comment will appear as soon as it has been reviewed.

Thank you