European Union accuses Microsoft of antitrust violations

Microsoft said yesterday that it has received a Statement of Objections from the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission(EC). This is not the first time the EC has objected Microsoft business practices and its been going on since 2005. Microsoft was fined more than $1 billion in the past by EC after determining that Microsoft isn't living up to the terms of a 2004 antitrust settlement.

Below is the statement published by Microsoft:

January 16, 2009

Yesterday Microsoft received a Statement of Objections from the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission. The Statement of Objections expresses the Commission's preliminary view that the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows since 1996 has violated European competition law. According to the Statement of Objections, other browsers are foreclosed from competing because Windows includes Internet Explorer. The Statement of Objections states that the remedies put in place by the U.S. courts in 2002 following antitrust proceedings in Washington, D.C. do not make the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows lawful under European Union law.

We are committed to conducting our business in full compliance with European law. We are studying the Statement of Objections now. Under European competition law procedure, Microsoft will be afforded an opportunity to respond in writing to this Statement of Objections within about two months. The company is also afforded an opportunity to request a hearing, which would take place after the submission of this response. Under EU procedure, the European Commission will not make a final determination until after it receives and assesses Microsoft's response and conducts the hearing, should Microsoft request one.
-- Microsoft Corporation

This looks like it is based on the complaint filed by Opera to EC which is aimed at giving consumers a genuine choice of Web browsers. It condemns Microsoft for bundling Internet Explorer with Windows and not allowing to bundle other web browsers with Windows. The complaint also urges Microsoft to follow fundamental and open Web standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities.

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