Commission sends a statement of objections to Microsoft on the tying of Internet Explorer to Windows

On 17 January 2009 the European Commission confirmed that it has sent a statement of objections to Microsoft. The Commission’s preliminary view is that Microsoft has abused its dominant position by tying the web browser Internet Explorer to the PC operating system Windows.

The Commission believes that the tying (which makes Internet Explorer available on 90% of the world’s PCs) distorts competition on the merits between web browsers by proving Internet Explorer an artificial distribution advantage that others cannot match, thus shielding it from competition. The Commission is concerned that, as a result, not only web browser innovation and quality is harmed, but also that the ubiquity of Internet Explorer risks undermining competition and innovation in the provision of services to consumers by creating artificial incentives for content providers and software developers to design websites primarily for Internet Explorer.

In a recent SEC filing Microsoft informs that the Commission is considering a remedy that would order Microsoft and OEMs to obligate users to choose a particular web browser when setting up a new PC, which could entail OEMs being required to distribute multiple browsers on new Windows PCs.