EU Commission finishes Microsoft antitrust probe
The EU Commission is preparing the last steps in it's antitrust probe against Microsoft. The Commission has been investigating Microsoft practices since 2000 following a complaint by Sun Microsystems. Sun accused Microsoft of abusing its dominant position in the market by not releasing crucial information on the communication between computers and servers running MS Windows. The Commission is also investigating the tying of Windows media player into the Windows operating system. This makes competition from other media players difficult.
Mario Monti, the Competition Commissioner, already revealed that additional investigations have confirmed earlier findings that Microsoft has abused its dominant position to weaken competition in the low-end server and media player markets. According to the Commission this weakens competition, stifles product innovation, and ultimately reduces consumer choice.
Microsoft has now been given a final conclusion of the probe. Mario Monti, the Competition Commissioner, said "This Statement of Objections, which includes the identification of appropriate remedies, gives Microsoft a last opportunity to comment before the Commission concludes the case. We are determined to ensure that the final outcome of this case is to the benefit of innovation and consumers alike."
The Commission has contacted companies in various market segments and requested information on whether interoperability considerations were a factor in their purchasing choices, and whether non-disclosures of such information by Microsoft influenced their purchase decisions. An overwhelming majority of respondents highlighted that Microsoft's non-disclosure of interface information - necessary for competing servers to properly talk with Windows PCs and servers - did indeed artificially alter their choice in favour of Microsoft's server products.
The Commission also identified remedies. Microsoft would be obliged to reveal the necessary interface information so that rival vendors of low-end servers are able to compete on a level playing-field with Microsoft. For Windows media player the Commission has set out two remedies: offering Windows without Windows media player or a 'must-carry' provision to offer competing media players with Windows. The Commission can additionally fine Microsoft to a maximum of 10% of its yearly turnover.
Commission gives Microsoft last opportunity to comment before concluding
its antitrust probe (06.08.2003)