EU Launches Two New Microsoft Investigations

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.

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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."