EU to investigate Microsoft antitrust complaint

11 February 2003 An influential computer trade association has filed a new complaint to European antitrust regulators against software giant Microsoft, alleging that the way it sells the Windows XP operating system illegally blocks competition.

The anti-Microsoft Computer and Communications Industry Association’s (CCIA) complaint asks the European Commission to go beyond the competition requirements already laid down by US antitrust regulators to ensure that Microsoft does not repeat the same business practices with Windows XP.

The move also comes as Mario Monti, the EC Competition Commissioner, nears a final decision about whether the software giant committed illegal practices with earlier versions of its software.

The CCIA said that far from changing its practices, Microsoft bundles an “extraordinary array of products with Windows XP”. It added that products bundled with Windows XP include Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser, Windows Messenger instant messaging software, Outlook Express email client and Windows Media audio and video player.

At a news conference today, the CCIA will unveil its demands. It wants Microsoft to be compelled to break out and sell separately some of the products it bundles with Windows XP, as well as publicly disclosing its licensing terms to computer manufacturers.

The CCIA alleges that Microsoft’s anti-competitive practices have prevented rival products, such as the open source Linux operating system, from getting established in the market. Members of the CCIA include systems supplier Sun Microsystems, network equipment giant Nokia and database software vendor Oracle.

The CCIA’s filing is important because the EC is required by European Union law to investigate any formal complaint, which means the commission will probably open an investigation into Windows XP. In addition, the EU has still to make a decision on its existing antitrust case against Microsoft – stemming from a complaint filed by Sun Microsystems.

In November 2002, the final ruling by US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in the landmark US antitrust trial required Microsoft to change very little about the way it operates.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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