EU probes Microsoft with two new antitrust investigations

“European antitrust officials are once again probing possible anticompetitive behavior by Microsoft. This time, the allegations concern Microsoft’s core operations and, if they stick, could disrupt the company’s Internet strategy and weaken its dominance of desktop software,” Jennifer L. Schenker reports for BusinessWeek.

“One of the new investigations will probe whether Microsoft, by refusing to disclose key information, is preventing competing products from interoperating with its own Office suite of business applications, the .Net programming language, and other products. The other challenges the legality of bundling Microsoft’s Web browser, Internet Explorer, with its Windows operating system,” Schenker reports.

Schenker reports, “The old case ended up costing Microsoft billions of dollars and forced it to change some practices. But it centered on servers and media players, which are important but fringe businesses for the software giant. Not so with the more recent probes. ‘Microsoft should be concerned because this case addresses core aspects of its business model and the preservation of its core monopolies,’ says Thomas Vinje, a partner at law firm Clifford Chance in Brussels, Belgium, who represents a coalition of tech companies that filed one of the two new complaints. ‘The case has the potential to transform the software industry and give consumers a real choice in desktop operating systems and programs.'”

Much more in the full article here.

16 Comments

  1. Go get ’em EU! At least there’s some will, somewhere in the world to take on MS and it’s evil ways.

    It’s a shame our own Justice Department was “taken off the case” by the Bushies.

    Although Microsoft’s seems to have inherited Bushian ineptitude throughout it’s entire product line.

  2. The best (and fastest, judging by these legal proceedings) way to release Microsoft’s grip is to encourage friends and family who are in the market for a new computer to get a Mac, along with alternatives to Office. Microsoft’s power lies in a perceived lack of choice. Show people there’s a choice, and you take away that power.

  3. As much as I hate Microsoft and think a lot of things they do are sneaky & wrong, it’s ridiculous to say that bundling Internet Explorer should be illegal. Wouldn’t that same thing have to apply to Apple bundling Safari in OS X? As long as there is an easy way to change the default browser and use the computer without it, there shouldn’t be a problem with that.

  4. You know I try never to post twice…but..

    Firstly, Janet Reno under Clinton stopped hounding M$. The republican revolution of ’94 stopped the first immigration reform bill that was design to help american technically oriented professionals because Mr. Gates threatened to pick up M$ and move it to India. The blood of these shenanigans the on every political party in the U.S. They have screwed us out of the manufacturing field so U.S. microelectronics giants don’t have to pay payroll taxes. That is what all this is about. But don’t worry kids…Near Shoring (manufacturing in Mexico) is getting popular again because the quality of life in China is rising and between the rising wages, the corruption, lead laced kiddie toys, and China actively not protecting U.S. intellectual property, the east is getting very expensive.

    Secondly, Internet Explorer and Explorer (for file viewing) are basically the same. Anyone that uses Linux knows about Konqueror. Konqueror does the same thing http://, file://, ftp:// and sftp://. The difference is I can uninstall Konqueror from a Linux machine….I cannot remove Explorer from Windoze machine.

  5. @ Tony,
    Yes, IE was bundled in a way that it interfered with any other internet apps, . . . even on early Macs. When I got my iMac in 1999, Netscape didn’t settle down until I took the advice of friends, and rooted out every vestige of anything with an MS label on it.
    Someone might say that was my imagination, but I’m not going to argue with results.

  6. I read/wrote this on a mac running osx 10.5 leopard and safari. Yes it just as closed as microsh*t is, nevertheless, its a vastly better product. It’s the result of competition.

    Competition is an amazing thing. Nothing drives innovation quite like having to compete for your very survival. Microsh*t closing off windows effectively says that you accept the belief that nobody is capable of doing any better to interact with the world out there then microsh*t itself. They can do it all better than anybody else- not likely I’m afraid. I find that VERY hard to believe. Being the best at everything is impossible. Rather you do the best at what you do best- which should be your core business- and let others supplement that with what they do best. The whole notion of trade is built upon this premise.

    One of the hardest things to do is to get consumers to try a new product when they think their old one is okay (grudingly). Most people seemingly aren’t aware of the alternatives and how to get around the virtual monopoly that microsh*t has. Funny, when you show people OSX and let them use it for a time, how quickly they can do things and how much they like it. Unfortunately, most people accept what is, despite the lack of competition having delivered anything that is overly great (Vista is a perfect example). With the rise of Apple again, maybe that’ll change and we’ll see more products that are are the level they should be, not the mediocre crap microsh*t offers (microsh*t tried to copy OSX tiger and call it Vista but it failed…) Look at mp3 players and phones -> ruthless competition seriously pushes things and so we benefit!

    So, sometimes it the role of government to intervene and ensure the market is functioning in the best interests of the consumer, not the companies competing in it. Unfortunately the US seems to think that what’s best for business is best for consumers, since business gives people jobs. This notion seems to perpetuate the dynamic where 10% of people end up with 90% of the wealth. Market fairness is a long way from communism. Yes, markets do need some regulation and adjustment from time to time, so this action by the EU is a necessary one. While it seems unfair that you get punished for being the most successful at what you do, a market based economy functions on the premise of free trade, not monopoly. This is a market failure. Thus the market giveth success and the government intervenes to ensure that others have the same opportunity. Fairness rules!

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.