New antitrust lawsuit filed against Microsoft

The ECIS group, a partnership of IBM, Nokia, Opera, Oracle, RealNetworks, Red Hat and Sun, among others, has filed a new complaint against Microsoft with the European Commission. The group claims that Microsoft’s way of doing business denies businesses and consumers real choice. The complaint focuses mainly on the difficulty of making products of Microsoft’s competitors work together with the Windows operating system, thus appearing to generalize a previous complaint specifically against the difficulty of making software work well with Windows Server. In addition, the group complains about Microsoft’s practice of bundling products together, a generalization of the complaint about bundling Windows with Microsoft’s Media Player. Microsoft Office is mentioned as an example; packing products together herein would lead to the strengthening of existing monopolies of the company and would also lead to new monopoly positions. Such monopoly-enhancing practices would have been declared illegal by the EC in 2004, according to ECIS.

The case could again herald months or even years of legal wrangling as the European Commission is obliged to investigate the case. Hopes of warming the chilled relationship between the EC and Microsoft therefore seem distant, even if the software giant and the Commission reach an agreement on the Windows Server case. In that case, the company still faces a fine of two million euros per day. At first glance, Microsoft is laconic about the new case. “Nowadays we expect complaints when we come up with new products,” said spokesman Tom Brookes.