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European Commission: Microsoft Abusing Market Position

  • January 20th, 2009
  • Posted by Daniel Challis

The European Commission accused software company Microsoft on Friday (16.01.09) of abusing its market position by grouping its Internet Explorer web browser with Microsoft Windows systems.

The Commission made a ‘statement of objections’ (a formal step in Commission antitrust investigations) last week which accuses Microsoft of unfairly competing in the market…

COMMISSION STATEMENT

In its statement, the Commission outlined that Microsoft’s tying of Internet Explorer to its PC operating system, infringed the EC Treaty rules on abuse of a dominant position by creating a distribution advantage over other web browsers.

Based on evidence from European competition regulators, the Commission said that the tie-up “harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice”.

Microsoft told European Voice on 16.01.09 it was assessing the Commission’s views.

“We are committed to conducting our business in full compliance with European law,” Microsoft said.

Microsoft has eight weeks to state its case against the charges being laid.

If the Commission’s accusations are confirmed, it may impose a fine on Microsoft as well as put a remedy in place to stop the abuse in the market as well as “restore consumer choice and enable competition on merits”.

PREVIOUS CASES

The Commission and Microsoft have clashed before over the company’s practice of bundling software into Windows.

In September 2007 the European Court of First Instance agreed with the Commission that Microsoft had abused its stronghold position in the market by tying-up Windows Media Player with its PC operating system.

Microsoft was also fined €899-million (A$1.777-billion; dcerates.com, 26.1.09) in February 2008 for its non-compliance with a 2004 ruling which required the company to lower its prices and distribute technical information with competitors.

Internet Explorer is available on 90% of the world’s PCs and accounts for around 75% of web browser usage.

Reference:

European Commission, ‘Antitrust: Commission confirms sending a Statement of Objections to Microsoft on the tying of Internet Explorer to Windows’ (17.01.09), http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/09/15&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en, (19.01.09).

Zoe Casey, European Voice, ‘Microsoft accused of harming browser market’ (19.01.09), http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/2009/01/microsoft-accused-of-harming-browser-market/63665.aspx, (19.01.09).

Picture: www.wikimedia.org, www.ndphs.org

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