Microsoft In Still More Antitrust TroubleBy: Doug Caverly - January 16, 2009
Microsoft apparently drew one step closer to getting in serious trouble with the European Commission yesterday. This afternoon, the company admitted to finding out that the European Commission believes its handling of Internet Explorer has been breaking antitrust laws.
The Directorate General for Competition sent Microsoft a Statement of Objections, and a press release that has been issued in response explains, "The Statement of Objections expresses the Commission’s preliminary view that the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows since 1996 has violated European competition law. According to the Statement of Objections, other browsers are foreclosed from competing because Windows includes Internet Explorer."
Any loss on this front would be a huge blow to Microsoft. Internet Explorer’s market share would almost surely drop, Vista sales could suffer, and some advertisers might even step away from the company’s search efforts. Not to mention the more straightforward matter of fines the European Commission can impose.
Still, Microsoft hasn’t run out of rope just yet. The company stated, "Under European competition law procedure, Microsoft will be afforded an opportunity to respond in writing to this Statement of Objections within about two months. The company is also afforded an opportunity to request a hearing, which would take place after the submission of this response. Under EU procedure, the European Commission will not make a final determination until after it receives and assesses Microsoft’s response and conducts the hearing, should Microsoft request one."
Don’t expect to see a resolution – and/or hear cheers or groans from the Firefox and Chrome camps – until at least mid-March, then.