IE8 Kill Switch: Enough to Satisfy EU's Antitrust?

Dennis Faas's picture

According to reports, Microsoft has met the deadline set by the European Union for addressing antitrust concerns, including the bundling of its Internet Explorer browser with Windows.

The European Union has thus far led the fight against what many feel are Microsoft's antitrust policies, the most concerning of which include the company's packaging of its ubiquitous Internet Explorer (IE) browser with its equally popular Windows operating systems.

Some claim that the packaging practice "shields" IE against competition from Mozilla and other, smaller companies, and that Microsoft owes its power in the browser market to its own unfair strategies. In January, EU antitrust regulators called it a practice of "distorting competition," providing IE with "an artificial distribution advantage which other Web browsers are unable to match." (Source:

Third Deadline's a Charm for MS

Microsoft had been asked to respond to these charges by March 12, 2009, but the deadline was pushed back to April 21 and again to April 28. Finally, the Redmond-based company confirmed it had met the deadline two days ago. Most insiders are pretty sure the software giant refuted the allegations and offered its own take on the matter.

Unfortunately, it's not known exactly what Microsoft proposed, since all parts of the counterclaim remain confidential. Insiders suspect that its "IE 8 kill switch" option for Windows 7 (which allows users to turn off Internet Explorer and other Microsoft media software altogether) could comprise the main component of its reply.

"Kill Switch" May not be Enough

That's probably not enough for the company which launched the original complaint, Oslo-based Opera Software, nor will it appeal to new third-party participants Mozilla and Google.

All three companies represent Microsoft's major competition in the browser arena, and all three would probably prefer a total separation of Windows from Internet Explorer. Imagine having to buy IE off the shelf at Staples or Wal-Mart, and you get the idea.

The situation is critical for Microsoft, which has seen the market share of its IE browser plummet from about 90 per cent in 2004 to just 70 per cent last year. (Source:

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