Microsoft is reportedly in talks with EU regulators over two separate antitrust cases, attempting to resolve the issues before the EU commissioner for competition steps down at the end of 2009. The first case deals with Internet Explorer, while the second centers on certain features of Microsoft Word and Excel. Microsoft had previously planned to release a separate edition of Windows 7 in Europe that excluded Internet Explorer 8 in order to avoid antitrust complaints.
is apparently in talks to settle antitrust probes initiated by the European
Union, according to Bloomberg, which cited unnamed people "familiar with
The first of the two cases involves the inclusion of Internet Explorer
within Windows; the second deals with the ability of Microsoft Word and Excel
to successfully interact with other applications. Microsoft is apparently
trying to settle both under EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes before she
steps down from office at the end of 2009.
Microsoft declined to comment about the matter. The European Union has
previously fined Microsoft 1.68 billion euros over antitrust matters.
previously announced plans to release a European version of Windows 7 without
Internet Explorer 8,
called Windows 7 E, in order to appease EU regulators
who argue that including the browser would violate antitrust laws.
The versions of Windows 7 that Microsoft will offer in Europe
and the United States
on the launch date of Oct. 22 will be otherwise identical. European
manufacturers preinstalling Windows 7 on customers' machines will be able to
include Internet Explorer in the devices, meaning that EU users may never
notice the issue.
For users not purchasing a new system, Microsoft will make Internet Explorer
8 available on a CD-ROM. However, users upgrading from Windows 7 E to Windows Vista
could have a problem, as changing over from one operating system to another
could leave them browserless when their Vista copy of Internet Explorer is
Kroes had previously met with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
as far back as
2005 to wrestle out regulatory issues. The European Commission has complained
on multiple occasions that Microsoft has not fully complied with antitrust
statutes; while many of those issues concerning compliance have been resolved
to the satisfaction of both parties, the current Microsoft talks make it clear that
sticking points remain.