EU hits Microsoft with fresh antitrust charges

18th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

In the latest twist in Microsoft's epic battle with Brussels, the commission accused the US software giant of thwarting competition by bundling Internet Explorer into its ubiquitous Windows operating system.

Brussels -- The European Commission said on Friday it had filed fresh antitrust charges against Microsoft for abusing its dominant position in personal computer operating systems to push its Internet Explorer web browser.

In the latest twist in Microsoft's epic battle with Brussels, the commission accused the US software giant of thwarting competition by bundling Internet Explorer into its ubiquitous Windows operating system.

"Microsoft's tying of Internet Explorer to the Windows operating system harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice," Europe's top antitrust watchdog said in a statement.

"The commission is concerned that through the tying, Microsoft shields Internet Explorer from head to head competition with other browsers which is detrimental to the pace of product innovation and to the quality of products which consumers ultimately obtain," it said.

Microsoft has eight weeks to respond to the charges and can request an oral hearing to state its defence.

But if the company cannot sway the commission, then the commission could slap hefty fines on Microsoft and order it to change its ways.

The European Commission and Microsoft have long clashed over the US company's practice of bundling other software such as media players into Windows.

In September 2007, Microsoft lost an appeal before Europe's second-highest court against a fine of nearly 500 million euros that EU regulators slapped on the company in 2004 for abusing its dominant market power.

In February, the commission hit Microsoft with a further fine of 899 million euros for defying its 2004 ruling. Microsoft has lodged an appeal against the decision.

But since the commission's court victory, it has broadened the scope of its actions against Microsoft.

AFP/Expatica

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