updated 06:10 pm EST, Tue February 24, 2009
Google backs EU
Google has jumped into the conflict between the European Commission and Microsoft, backing the EU in the antitrust proceedings. The commission has objected to the practice of bundling Internet Explorer with Windows, which it claims "harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice." The search-engine giant must first ask for permission from the EU to provide arguments, as a third party, in the ongoing litigation.
"Google believes that the browser market is still largely uncompetitive, which holds back innovation for users. This is because Internet Explorer is tied to Microsoft's dominant computer operating system, giving it an unfair advantage over other browsers," said Sundar Pichai, Google's vice president of product management.
Mozilla already has received permission from the commission to submit its own point of view in the case. "Microsoft's business practices have fundamentally diminished (in fact, came very close to eliminating) competition, choice and innovation in how people access the Internet," said Mitchell Baker, Chairperson of Mozilla, in her blog. "The extent of the damage is so great that it makes it difficult to figure out an effective and timely remedy."
The European Commission on Monday outlined plans that will require Microsoft to offer alternative browsers in Windows, expanding the current options that allow users to specify the default program. The regulators argued that the approach would be necessary to provide an immediate, fair choice. Critics, however, feel that the actions would still create a difficult situation for any browsers smaller than Safari, Chrome, Firefox or Opera. [via Bloomberg]