Microsoft Rivals Issue New Complaint to EU

The European Commission is looking into a new complaint by several of
Microsoft’s rivals alleging unfair practices through
the software giant’s Windows XP operating system.

EU spokesman Amelia Torres told reporters the European Union has received a
complaint from some of Microsoft’s competitors, and the commission will soon
begin reviewing its contents. The new complaint is not expected to delay a
current investigation by the EU of Microsoft, which expected to be completed
in the coming weeks, or perhaps months.

The latest complaint by Microsoft’s rivals is being put together by the
Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), a coalition that includes
Nokia Corp., Kodak Co., Fujitsu Ltd., Sun
Microsystems, AOL Time Warner and
Oracle. The legal complaint asks European regulators to
prevent Microsoft from extending its Windows market dominance into new
markets.

The CCIA’s legal complain was filed in Brussels on January 31st, and is a
legal strategy to complicate Microsoft’s plan to settle a series of European
antitrust allegations that are still pending. The CCIA is pushing for
European regulators to force Microsoft to remove music, video and
Internet-surfing aspects of Windows in the European market.

The complaint goes onto allege that Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system
constitutes a new threat to competition, particularly in the fields of
mobile communications, digital music, video distribution and Web services.
The complaint also says Microsoft market dominant Office software suite is
designed in a manner that makes it difficult for customers to use
non-Windows programs, including Linux and Apple-based software.

The legal filing goes onto accuse Microsoft of being in violation of the
European Union Treaty’s Article 82, dealing with antitrust matters. The
complaint alleges Microsoft is unfairly bundling products and giving its own
products preferential treatment, which it claims is in violation of European
Union statutes.

European regulators are known to be tougher in slapping restrictions on
companies, than their U.S. counterparts. The question remains will the
CCIA’s complaint pass muster with the commission. It says beyond Microsoft
bundling its new products into Windows XP at the expense of its competition,
it is going further by using its market muscle to push itself deeper into
Web browser software market.

The CCIA complaint says it “puts it (Microsoft) in the strategically
critical position of controlling Web standards,” aimed at ringing alarm
bells in Europe. The CCIA goes onto say Microsoft its using a similar tactic
by leveraging its Media Player software to become the de facto digital
content standard for video and music on the Web.

The complaint goes ask to request regulators to force Microsoft to unbundled
several of its products. The EU is expected to examine Microsoft’s instant
messaging, e-mail, Internet Explorer browser and Movie Maker software, and
the ways that they are integrated. It goes onto to back legal moves to force
Microsoft to include Sun’s Java technology in its Windows operating system.

The CCIA is arguing that Microsoft has violated European Commission
competition law. While it could be weeks that the EU could render a
judgement on the initial antitrust probe within weeks, there is not likely
to be any decisions on the latest complaint from CCIA for months.

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