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Microsoft entangled in another legal tryst with EU

Accused of breaking antitrust laws by bundling Internet Explorer browser with the Windows OS

The European Commission, which regulates competition for the European Union, has formally charged Microsoft with violating treaty rules by bundling its Internet Explorer browser with the Windows operating system.

“…the tying of Internet Explorer with Windows, which makes Internet Explorer available on 90% of the world's PCs, distorts competition…as it provides Internet Explorer with an artificial distribution advantage which other web browsers are unable to match,” the Statement of Objection filed by EU antitrust regulators claims.

If confirmed, the Commission is free to impose a fine on Microsoft and order a remedy that restores fair competition.

The news brings back memories of the sensational 2004 antitrust ruling, triggered by a 1998 complaint by Sun Microsystems, where Microsoft was ordered to pay a $613 million fine for using its desktop dominance to hike its share in the server software market and bundling Windows Media Player to its operating systems.

Last year, the Commission slapped a further staggering $1.3 billion fine for Microsoft’s failure to comply with the 2004 decision, which has since been appealed. It warned that other antitrust investigations were underway, which the tech giant could be called up on in the future.

Microsoft has two months to respond to the latest EU antitrust objection and has reiterated its commitment to conducting business “in full compliance with European law”.