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EU believes IE in Windows breaks competition law

updated 02:55 pm EST, Fri January 16, 2009

EU Objection to Microsoft

Microsoft today said it has received a Statement of Objection from the European Commission that finds the software developer has violated European competition law by tying Internet Explorer to Windows. Though preliminary, the message tells Microsoft that the forced bundling is unfairly excluding competitors from Windows PCs. It adds that the changes made to open competition as the result of a US antitrust ruling in 2002, such as letting PC vendors bundle non-IE browsers and change defaults, aren't enough to avoid violating European law.

The American firm doesn't outline its point of view in its response but says it will remain in "full compliance" with European law. Microsoft has the option of responding within two months and of asking for a hearing afterwards to discuss the finding before arriving at a conclusion.

Microsoft has repeatedly conflicted with the Commission over its software practices and most recently was subjected to a $1.4 billion fine for allegedly failing to reveal code that would let competitors' productivity and server software work as well as its own. The Windows developer has protested the fine but has had little success in overturning past rulings, having been forced to offer Windows without Windows Media Player.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Mr. Strat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    More Euro BS

    If they're going to follow that line of reasoning, they should go after Apple for bundling Safari with OS X.

    This is just more anti-MS bullshit. I'm no huge fan of Microsoft, but who gives a s*** what Europe thinks about anything?

  1. jondesu

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The EU is definitely crazy, but I do get the reasoning for not going after Apple for the same thing. Apple has no "vendors", they sell their computers as full systems, and so they don't have competitors who are wanting to ship computers with different standard software from Mac OS X's default set. Thus, there's no one to sue them over it. Still, I agree that this is more EU idiocy.


  1. ViktorCode

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Comply as a protest

    Let MS sell only stripped-down version of Windows in EU. No Web browser, no media player, no ISS server in pro versions, etc. It should be called Microsoft Windows EU Edition and should replace any other version for sale in EU.

    Users who bought the boxed Windows EU version would have to start their work with spending half a day for downloading essential stuff - how very consumer-friendly. Oh thank you Eurocommission!

    Seriously speaking, those attempts to handicap big American corporation on European soil are just lame. If you want European companies to be competitive with American ones please make sure there are competing products in the market first. If you want to be pro-consumer please make sure that your actions will increase product choice, not the other way around.

    Right now I can tell that EU anti-monopoly market watchers are incapable for that kind of job.

  1. deVilliers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    de villiers

    This is not an attempt to handicap American companies. There are no European companies that are in competition with Microsoft. All the firms that are in competition with Microsoft are themselves American.

    The decisions that the EU take are to ensure that Microsoft does not abuse its market monopoly position.

    It was an American anti-trust trial heard by an American judge that found numerous instances of market abuse by Microsoft. American companies launched their own suits against Microsoft in American federal courts. American states filed their own lawsuits against Microsoft in American state courts. The American judge in the American anti-trust trial recommended that Microsoft be split into two companies. The American Democratic party supported that position.

    It was the pro-business (but not pro-market) Republican party that decided not to follow the findings of the judge. It is not the EU monopoly watchers that are incapable of preventing market abuse.

    In fact, after 8 years of Republican government, the American electorate's support of the Republican Administration was down to single figures, the American voters voted in a Democratic, European-friendly President in the form of President Obama and gave a majority to the Democrats in both houses of the American Congress.

    When you consider why you should take into consideration that which the EU says, it is important to recall the following. The EU generates 30% of global economic output. It's GDP in 2007 amounted to nearly €12.5 or $17 trillion. It is the largest economy in the world and the second largest trading bloc. It is the world's largest exporter of goods.

    Perhaps you should consider that the regulation of US companies who wish to trade in the EU is not an attack on the US.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Stupid question, I'm sure

    Most important, please explain this:

    If MS were to release windows without a browser, how exactly would one get on the internet in order to download a competitor browser?

    And why stop there? Why not complain about Windows Media Player, Picture Browser, Paint, WordPad, Notepad, Windows Explorer, Zip support, a clock, the sidebar (its destroyed the Windows market for Konfabulator - you know, the idea apple basically stole for the dashboard)....

    h***, you could easily argue that by including the Windows version of the Finder/Desktop, they've made it anti-competitive for all the other desktop replacements.

    All all this may be true, but why aren't they going after Apple for including Safari, iChat, iTunes, TextEdit (it ruins the market for Word!), Terminal, DiskUtility, etc. In fact, by including the Finder, they've ruined the market for the likes of PathFinder!

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Don't diss the EU

    The European Union right now is the only pro consumer agency standing up to Microsoft. If it wasn't for the efforts of the Union, MS would never release Win XP N edition. The bigger problem however is that MS has integrated IE core technologies into its OS in order to sabotage efforts like this.

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