Friday

19th Apr 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.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us