U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee staffers plan to look into Mozilla’s allegations that Microsoft is hindering efforts for competing Web browsers — such as Mozilla’s Firefox — to run on Windows RT, a version of the upcoming Windows operating system designed to run on ARM devices.
That’s according to The HIll, which cites an aide to Antitrust subcommittee Chairman Herb Kohl (D-Wis.).
Mozilla had complained last week that Microsoft had prohibited any browser except its own Internet Explorer from running in the “Windows Classic” mode of Windows RT. (Windows RT reportedly has two modes it will run in: the new touch-based Metro style and, for certain programs, the more familiar, classic Windows style. Mozilla is complaining about not being able to run its browser in the classic style. It and other companies can design browsers to run in Metro mode.)
“In practice, this means that only Internet Explorer will be able to perform many of the advanced computing functions vital to modern browsers in terms of speed, stability, and security to which users have grown accustomed,” Harvey Anderson, Mozilla’s general counsel, wrote in an official blog post. “Windows on ARM — as currently designed –restricts user choice, reduces competition and chills innovation. By allowing only IE to perform the advanced functions of a modern Web browser, third-party browsers are effectively excluded from the platform.”
Some writers have said they think it’s hypocritical for Congress and Mozilla to single out Microsoft on the issue when Apple, too, restricts browser access for its tablet — the market-dominating iPad.
Anderson, Mozilla’s general counsel, said “the similarities to iOS don’t justify an outcome on Windows that deprives users of choice, reduces competition and hurts innovation,” according to an article in Computerworld. “The difference here is that Microsoft is using its Windows monopoly power in the OS market to exclude competition in the browser market.”
Microsoft declined to comment on the matter.