The EU proves itself once again to be a strong market-regulator, launching two new investigations into Microsoft anti-competitive practices

It could be safely said that the European Union (EU) and Microsoft are not exactly best buddies.  Microsoft fought the law, and the law won -- to the tune of a $690M USD fine imposed last year by the European Commission (EC), the financial regulatory branch of the EU.

Pleased with its success, the European Commission just released a memo detailing that it believes more fines may soon be in store against Microsoft.  The EC memo states its intent to launch two more formal investigations into whether Microsoft abused its market position and engaged in anti-competitive processes.

One claim leveled in the memo alleges Microsoft failed to disclose interoperability information “across a broad range of products.”  In particular it mentions the Office suite, server products and the .NET framework as possible software which Microsoft failed to disclose interoperability data; an anti-competitive and illegal practice.  The crux of the investigation is Microsoft Office 2007's new proprietary Open Office XML format

The Commission will examine whether the new formate makes Office “sufficiently interoperable with competitors' products.”  If it decides that it is not, it could be the latest in a long string of failures for the new oft-criticized format.  Recently, the governing body of the British school system expelled Vista and Office '07 from the classroom, partially because it felt OOXML was inferior to the open source Open Document Format.  Microsoft has constantly argued the opposite -- that its format is the superior one.

The Commission will also investigate Internet Explorer, partially based on a request from browser maker Opera.  Opera alleges that the bundling of IE with Windows violates EU guidelines.  Further, it says that Microsoft uses proprietary formats within the browser, in an effort to reduce compatibility with open internet standards, an anti-competitive practice.

The EC also received reports of the "tying of other separate software products by Microsoft, which include the products desktop search and Windows Live. The Commission's investigation will therefore focus on allegations that a range of products have been unlawfully tied to sales of Microsoft's dominant operating system."

While the EC is not charging Microsoft with a violation of Article 82 of the EC Treaty, yet, it vows to make the investigation "a matter of priority."

The EU engaged in an aggressive campaign of competition monitoring over the last several years and has issued numerous large fines.  The EC is also currently investigating or charging violations against Apple for its iTunes software and against leading chip-maker Intel

The EC is not only fielding claims against American companies.  British Airways and Siemens are also in its legal cross hairs.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Latest Blog Posts
The Best Android Apps
Saimin Nidarson - May 20, 2017, 6:16 AM

Copyright 2017 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki