The European Commission notified Microsoft on Thursday of its “preliminary view that the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows since 1996 has violated European competition law.” The notification came in a “Statement of Objections,” which was not published by the EC. Microsoft itself announced the news because of its “disclosure requirements” in the U.S. The EC’s antitrust investigation stems from a December 2007 complaint by Opera Software, maker of the Opera Web browser, which competes with Internet Explorer.
The Oslo, Norway, company asked the EC “to give users a choice of Internet software with its Windows operating system,” according to an Associated Press story at the time. “… Opera also alleged that Microsoft was holding back developers from creating programs that work with each other ‘by not following accepted Web standards.'”
In January 2008, the EC formally launched a probe into the Opera complaint.
Microsoft’s statement today signals that the European regulators have found cause to continue their action:
“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.”