The European Commission has yet again waded into the icy waters of anti-competition by accusing Microsoft, the world’s dominating provider of office and operating systems, of limiting competition with the installation of the Internet Explorer browser in its flagship Windows operating system.
The case being made is that the presence of the browser, installed at OS installation time, reduces the opportunity other browser manufacturers have to gain market share and attract customers.
The problem with this case, however, seems to be that other browsers are freely available, and that there are no basic problems with installing the other browser software (Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome etc) on Windows PCs. A key argument is that, in making the IE browser a part of the OS at install, users demand other browsers for free, denying third party browser manufacturers a revenue stream. if IE wan’t installed at base, the argument goes, people might opt to pay for a third party browser, and a revenue generating industry would be reborn.
This is of course utterly nonsensical, and does nothing to safeguard European innovation and industry; with the exception of the open source pioneering Mozilla foundation, all the main browser manufacturers are American businesses.
The EC is clutching at straws here, and would appear to be inventing regulation to directly attack a key innovating company, just because it can. Microsoft should vigorously defend its market share, oppose the EC’s attempt to rise above its station, and the Windows OS should continue to contain IE at OS install time.