IBM, Nokia, Sun and others join EU antitrust case against Microsoft
Thursday, April 16, 2009 12:19:49 PM
Opera Software initially took a lot of heat for reporting Microsoft to the authorities. However, contrary to what one might believe from reading some of the knee-jerk reactions from people around the Web, Opera did not sue Microsoft, nor did it demand any money from Microsoft. Like any concerned and responsible citizen, Opera Software reported that it considered Microsoft's actions to be illegal, and asked the authorities to look into it.
After the flames had mostly subsided, Mozilla joined the complaint, followed by Google, and now several major and well known companies through ECIS. The reasoning is:
This case is about the future of the Web and maintaining an open and dynamic internet. Key
business, e-commerce, public service and social networking applications are moving to the internet, which is rapidly becoming the backbone of economic life and social interaction. By tying IE to the Windows desktop monopoly, by using proprietary IE standards and making internet applications and content dependent on other Microsoft proprietary technologies, such as Silverlight and .NET, Microsoft seeks to establish itself as gatekeeper to the internet.
ECIS has also released a paper titled "A History of Anticompetitive Behavior and Consumer Harm", where it makes its case against Microsoft. The Table of Contents lists, among other things, Microsoft's actions against DR-DOS, Word Perfect, Intel, Netscape, Java, and so on. It's a powerful reminder for those who are unaware of Microsoft history of anti-competitive practices.
There is also a history lesson regarding browsers:
During Microsoft's push to destroy Netscape, it released four major new versions of Internet Explorer in two years. But after it successfully excluded Netscape from the market, Microsoft slowed browser development, releasing only two new versions between 1998 and 2001, neither of which was a major upgrade. After 2001, Microsoft "effectively disbanded the Internet Explorer group after killing Netscape."
Microsoft did not introduce a new version of Internet Explorer for Windows until 2006, and even
then reviewers labeled the new version as an underwhelming catch-up release.
One of Microsoft's .NET program managers acknowledged that "[i[b][/b]]t simply doesn’t make business
sense for Microsoft to invest in a technology that d[is]intermediates [its] most popular platform, the Windows operating system.
Yes, Microsoft apparently disbanded its Internet Explorer team when it achieved its goal of total dominance.
I strongly recommend that people read the document before commenting on this issue. A lot of comments around the Web so far show a worrying lack of knowledge of Microsoft's anti-competitive history.
Despite what some people are trying to turn this into, it is not about EU vs. US. This is not about Capitalism vs. Communism. Americans and Europeans, including several highly successful companies and organizations, are together on this one. It is about how a company which breaks the law should be held accountable for that. Contrary to what some seem to think, the United States does have antitrust laws, as do most countries on this planet, and it is not afraid to use them. Antitrust laws help to ensure that harmful practices do not undermine competition.
So Microsoft is not being investigated because it is an American company, nor is it because it is successful. It is being investigated because there is reason to believe that it has once again broken the law, and breaking the law should have consequences.