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Microsoft and the EU Commission

by Martin Reynolds  |  June 12, 2009  |  1 Comment

It is a good thing that Microsoft has deep cash reserves, given that the EU Commission is about to make a decision on how much to fine the company for including IE with its Windows product. The commission is an expensive and unforgiving master. European taxpayers have already benefited from over $2B in fines from Microsoft, stemming from  its anticompetitive position in the Media Player market (iTunes, anyone?).

Microsoft has a simple, premeptive  answer: it will ship Windows without IE in Europe. Selling a computer without a browser is not practical, so the OEMs will have  to load a browser. Loading IE is probably the lowest cost path for the OEMs, there’s no need to explain to customers where the Internet went. But that seems to take us full circle, with the OEMs cast in the role of proxy market  manipulator. How the EU interprets Microsoft’s move will be interesting.

An implication of the EU position is that Europeans don’t really know where to find Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Opera on the Internet. The alternative interpretation – that they don’t really care – would not support an antitrust action.

The EU antitrust actions could be interpreted as trade barriers designed to shield local interests, based on the contrast between U.S. and EU antitrust practices. Such an interpretation is unthinkable right now, but political and economic conditions can change quickly.

We are set for some interesting activity on the antitrust front. Think about it as a cost of being too successful in Europe. And watch for changes in the U.S. approach


Martin Reynolds
Managing VP
16 years at Gartner
27 years IT industry

Martin Reynolds is a vice president and Fellow in Gartner Research. He follows the broad areas of hardware technologies, and examines how they will develop and impact IT. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Microsoft and the EU Commission

  1. […] Hak konsumen seakan menjadi hal terakhir yang harus dipikirkan penyelenggara negara ini, sementara banyak cara bisa dipelajari untuk mencegah terjadinya “kesewenangan” pasar Liga Inggris. Belajar dari Komisi Uni Eropa, via Komisi Persaingan Usaha Uni Eropa, Microsoft yang berbasis di Amerika Serikat, tidak dikenakan sanksi aturan persaingan usaha. Microsoft kena penalti halangan perdagangan (trade barrier) dengan meniadakan Explorer dalam paket bundling piranti lunaknya, jika Microsoft ingin memasok ke pasar Uni Eropa (baca ulasannya di sini). […]

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