Commission holds Microsoft antitrust hearing

By EDRi · November 19, 2003

The European Commission has concluded a three-day hearing against
Microsoft. Several competing companies made presentations to the
Commission during the hearing. RealNetworks and Sun Microsystems, as well
as the Computer and Communications Industry Association have accused
Microsoft of abusing its dominant position in the market. The hearing,
which took place on 12, 13 and 14 November, is the last step in a lengthy
anti-trust probe.

The Commission has been investigating Microsoft practices since 2000,
following a complaint by Sun Microsystems. Sun accused Microsoft of
abusing its dominant position in the market by not releasing crucial
information about the communication between computers and servers running
MS Windows. The Commission is also investigating the tying of Windows
media player into the Windows operating system. This makes competition for
other media players very difficult.

In August 2003 the Commission gave Microsoft the conclusions of the probe
and the preferred remedies. Microsoft should be obliged to reveal
interface information so that rival vendors of low-end servers are able to
compete on a level playing-field. For Windows media player the Commission
set out two remedies: offering Windows without Windows media player or a
‘must-carry’ provision to offer competing media players with Windows. The
Commission can additionally fine Microsoft to a maximum of 10% of its
yearly turnover.

The European Commission is expected to produce a draft ruling before the
end of 2003. After comments from the national anti-trust regulators of the
EU member states, the European competition commissioner, Mario Monti, can
present the ruling in the first two months of 2004.

Various reports speculate on Microsofts willingness to agree to a
settlement before the ruling is finished. In a statement Microsoft said
that it “is committed to applying the energy and creativity needed to
achieve a constructive outcome”. The statement is seen as a strong signal
that Microsoft is ready to settle.

European Commission statements on the case against Microsoft

Microsoft press releases