I’m sure plenty of you remember the whole antitrust case that Microsoft was involved with in the months leading up to the release of Windows 7. The European Commission ruled that Microsoft were stifling competition by bundling Internet Explorer as the default browser in not only Windows 7, but also all it’s operating systems.
As a result Microsoft left it up to OEM’s to choose which browser would be installed and also displayed a browser ballot screen to Windows XP, Vista and 7 users who still had IE as their default browser.
Now, three years later as Microsoft is getting ready to launch Windows 8, the EU has raised the same case again with Microsoft. This time the EU is examining if Microsoft is unfairly favouring their own IE by discouraging other PC makers from making rival browsers the default in Windows 8.
In addition to this, they are also examining whether or not Microsoft is being unfair by only allowing IE to be installed on ARM devices running Windows RT. With Windows RT, the user is not able to install any third party applications, due to hardware limitations.
First off I think that this is quite unfair when you consider that Apple have been bundling Safari as the default browser with OS X for years, and Apple does not allow any other third party browsers to be installed on iOS. The browsers available on it are simply skins of Safari and not full third party browsers.
Considering that Apple hold a large majority of the tablet and smartphone market, I feel the EU is being slightly unfair here by filing this against Microsoft.
The EU is also focusing on how Microsoft have “fallen short” when it comes to the browser ballot screen. They claim that Microsoft failed to give 28 million users the choice to choose a different default browser. Microsoft apologised and claimed that this was in part due to a “technical error”.
If Microsoft are proven guilty on these charges, they could face hefty fines. The EU has the ability to impose fines of up to 10% of their turnover, which would be no small figure given the size of Microsoft.
But I feel if the EU is going after Microsoft for something like this, then surely they should be taking it up with Apple as well? Apple essentially do the exact same thing, just their market share isn’t as large.