Microsoft In Trouble Again With EU

Dennis Faas's picture

The European Commission has once again attacked Microsoft for bundling Internet Explorer with Windows. The EU (European Union) body recently ruled in principle that such behavior breaches European competition laws.

The ruling concludes a year-long investigation which is the latest in a series of battles between European regulators and Microsoft. In one case, involving the inclusion of Windows Media Player in Windows, Microsoft was fined a total of $745 million.

The European Commission is the executive wing of the European political system: it carries out the laws made by politicians. Its new ruling says "Microsoft's tying of Internet Explorer to the Windows operating system harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice." (Source:

It's deemed a ruling in principle, meaning Microsoft has eight weeks to file a formal objection to avoid it being automatically upheld. If Microsoft does object, there'll be an official hearing into the issue.

If after that the ruling is upheld, Microsoft could face a fine. It may also be forced to either stop including Internet Explorer in European editions of Windows or include other web browsers in the system as well.

The investigation was launched after a complaint from the Norwegian makers of Opera, a rival web browser. Its CEO said the ruling showed officials were "serious about getting Microsoft to start competing on the merits in the browser market and letting consumers have a real choice of Internet browsers." (Source:

A similar legal row in the U.S. forced Microsoft to separate Windows and Internet Explorer into two separate applications. While both can appear on the same computer, users must have the option to de-select Internet Explorer as their default web browser. That measure appears to not go far enough for European competition laws.

Microsoft says it is studying the ruling and remains "committed to conducting our business in full compliance with European law", but hasn't ruled out filing an objection.

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