Sunday

20th Jan 2019

Focus

Commission gets back into antitrust ring with Microsoft

  • Brussels is investigating the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows and the Office suite of software products (Photo: EUobserver)

Just when Microsoft thought it was safe to go back to the business of developing market-dominating software, EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes has returned with another antitrust investigation of the US software giant.

The commission announced on Monday (14 January) it was launching two brand new probes of the firm's business practices.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The first is to explore whether Microsoft's bundling of its own internet browser, Internet Explorer, with its operating system, Windows, deprives consumers of choice of which browser they want to use to navigate the internet.

The investigation comes in response to a complaint from Norwegian alternative internet browser firm Opera. However, the probe will look not just at the browser bundled with Windows, but allegations that a whole range of products have been unlawfully tied to sales of Microsoft's dominant operating system.

"Browsers are the gateway to the internet. Microsoft seeks to control this gateway," said Thomas Vinje, legal counsel for the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS), of which Opera is a member.

The second investigation is to look at the 'interoperability' of Microsoft's products with competitors' software, referring to how easy it is for competitors to run software on Microsoft systems.

It follows on from a direct complaint by ECIS, which is an alliance of technology firms promoting interoperability that also includes many rivals of Microsoft such as Adobe, Nokia and Sun.

ECIS had complained that Microsoft illegally refused to disclose information about the 'nuts and bolts' – or interoperability information - of a broad range of its products. By not letting rivals have access to this interoperability information, it is alleged that Microsoft makes it much harder for their software to work more smoothly with its own.

Specifically, the commission is to investigate Microsoft's Office suite of software, a number of its server products, and its .NET Framework. The commission will also look into whether Microsoft's new file format, Office Open XML, as implemented in Office, is sufficiently interoperable.

Microsoft issued a statement saying it would co-operate with the commission's inquiries.

The two new investigations come just months after Microsoft settled another long-running antitrust battle with the commission over its bundling of the Windows Media Player, its video and audio playing software, with its operating system.

In October 2007, the firm finally complied with a commission ruling of 2004 after having lost an appeal and being fined some €500 million.

Pressure mounts on EU cloud deal as deadline looms

The European Commission is under pressure to keep to its self-imposed September deadline to publish an EU cloud computing strategy, as new evidence revealed widespread public confusion about it.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Agenda

Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK

Germany and France are set to reinforce their alliance as the engine-house of European integration, while Britain continues to struggle to leave the EU.

Opinion

How to troll the European Parliament elections

The May 2019 European parliament elections will take place in a context which make a very promising ground for protest votes and extreme views, aided by bots and algorithms.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK
  2. Germany led way on EU rights protection
  3. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  4. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  5. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  6. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  7. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  8. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us