EU wants Microsoft to untie IE to Windows

The European Commission (EC) said here on Saturday that it sent a Statement of Objections (SO) to Microsoft on the tying of Internet Explorer to Windows, Xinhua reported.

The SO, sent on Jan. 15, noted Microsoft's practice of tying browser Internet Explorer (IE) to its dominant client PC operating system Windows "infringes" EU rules "on abuse of a dominant position."

EU antitrust rules prohibit companies from abusing a dominant market position.

The EU said in a statement that Microsoft "harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice" by tying its IE to the Windows.

The SO "is based on the legal and economic principles established in the judgment of the Court of First Instance of 17 September 2007," said the EC, the executive arm of the EU.

In 2004, the European Court of Justice found the U.S. IT giant had violated EU antitrust rules by trying to dwarf competitors for server and media player software.

The EC fined Microsoft more than 600 million U.S. dollar, ordering it to offer a version of Windows in Europe without the Media Player software and to share communications code with competitors. Microsoft lost an appeal of that ruling Sept. 17, 2007.

The EC launched investigation into Microsoft's Web-surfing software a year ago following Norway's browser-maker Opera Software ASA filed a complaint.

"The evidence gathered during the investigation leads the Commission to believe that the tying of Internet Explorer with Windows, which makes Internet Explorer available on 90 percent of the world's PCs, distorts competition", the Commission said.

The EC gave Microsoft eight weeks to respond and the right to be heard in an Oral Hearing should the company wish to do so.

If the preliminary views expressed in the SO are confirmed, the Commission may impose a fine on Microsoft, asking Microsoft to cease the abuse and impose a remedy that would restore genuine consumer choice and enable competition on the merits.

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