EU Launches Two New Microsoft Investigations

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2008-01-14 Print this article Print

The two investigations follow recent complaints filed by European software concerns.

Just when Microsoft thought the bulk of its antitrust woes were behind it, regulators in the European Union announced that they have opened two new such investigations against the software maker.

The investigations will examine whether Microsoft abused its dominant position in the market to unfairly tie its Web browser to the Windows operating system, as well as look at the interoperability of Microsoft software with rival products.

The two investigations follow a recent complaint filed by Norwegian browser developer Opera Software and a 2006 complaint brought by the European Committee for Interoperable Systems, which counts Microsoft rivals IBM, Nokia, Sun, RealNetworks and Oracle among its members.

A statement issued by the commission Jan. 14 said the ECIS complaint accuses Microsoft of illegally refusing to disclose interoperability information across a broad range of products, including information related to its Office suite, a number of its server products and also in relation to the .Net Framework.

"The Commission's examination will therefore focus on all these areas, including the question whether Microsoft's new file format Office Open XML, as implemented in Office, is sufficiently interoperable with competitors' products," the statement said.

The EU's challenge to Microsoft's desktop hegemony has been history-making. Check out the highlights. 

The complaint by Opera alleges that Microsoft is engaged in the illegal tying of its Internet Explorer product to its dominant Windows operating system, the commission said, noting that other allegations of Microsoft tying some of its separate software products, including desktop search and Windows Live, have also been brought to its attention.

"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," it said. However, the commission noted "initiation of proceedings does not imply that the Commission has proof of an infringement. It only signifies that the Commission will further investigate the case as a matter of priority."

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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