EU Expands Probe of Microsoft to Software Licenses

The European Commission widened its probe into Microsoft Corp for anti-competitive practices on Thursday, asking computer hardware makers for details of their licensing deals with the software giant. Competition regulators at the European Union's executive have written to major computer makers, such as IBM, to seek details of how Microsoft licensed them the operating systems they sold with personal computers. "Licenses for the installation of operating systems on the hard drive of a personal computer -- that is the scope," Commission spokesman Tilman Lueder told reporters.

Computer makers rely on Microsoft for its Windows operating system which dominates the desktop computer market. Antitrust authorities in the United States have previously said Microsoft was in a position to favor some computer makers over others. Lueder stressed that launching the probe did not imply Microsoft was guilty of any offences and that the investigation was at a fact-finding stage. Microsoft said the Commission had not contacted it as the inquiry was at a very early stage.

News source: Reuters

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