Microsoft and the European Commission

UPDATE: January 17, 2009, 10:15 a.m. Pacific — The European Commission has commented on the Statement of Objections it sent to Microsoft Thursday.  You can read the full text on the Commission’s Web site.

Posted by David Bowermaster 
Administrator, Microsoft on the Issues

For those of you following our new blog who are not journalists, we wanted to give you a heads up about a press statement we issued a few minutes ago.

As you’ll see, the statement concerns a legal action we received yesterday from the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission.  (DG Comp, to use the shorthand, sets and enforces marketplace rules that apply to all companies doing business in Europe).

The “Statement of Objections” concerns our practice of including Internet Explorer browsing technology in the Windows operating system, which we’ve done since 1996.

We’ll provide a formal response to DG Comp within the next two months.  In the meantime, since this is a legal matter, we won’t have much to say publicly.  But, in the interest of transparency, we wanted to make sure you were aware of the issue and heard about it directly from us.

January 16, 2009

“Yesterday Microsoft received a Statement of Objections from the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission.  The Statement of Objections expresses the Commission’s preliminary view that the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows since 1996 has violated European competition law. According to the Statement of Objections, other browsers are foreclosed from competing because Windows includes Internet Explorer. The Statement of Objections states that the remedies put in place by the U.S. courts in 2002 following antitrust proceedings in Washington, D.C. do not make the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows lawful under European Union law.”

“We are committed to conducting our business in full compliance with European law.  We are studying the Statement of Objections now. Under European competition law procedure, Microsoft will be afforded an opportunity to respond in writing to this Statement of Objections within about two months. The company is also afforded an opportunity to request a hearing, which would take place after the submission of this response. Under EU procedure, the European Commission will not make a final determination until after it receives and assesses Microsoft’s response and conducts the hearing, should Microsoft request one.“ 

— Microsoft Corporation