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Through Microsoft’s SEC filling, we know what EU is up to in terms of enforcing its competition law.

First up, they might want to require Microsoft and OEMs to include several rival browsers and require users to choose. Secondly, they’re investigating Microsoft Office’s interopolarity issues – what issues, we don’t know. Two I can think of; Exchange–which is not strictly Office, and formats, which Microsoft has already buckled and would support ODF, and Office Open XML is already well-documented anyway, so it seems rather pointless.

More importantly is their pursued case, led by complaints by failure-company Opera, on Internet Explorer. This despite the fact that Internet Explorer’s market share has been rapidly reducing – lead by Firefox, prompting new market entrants like Google Chrome. This, in turn, led Microsoft to push out Internet Explorer 7 to compete against Firefox, and more notably, Internet Explorer 8 which is, by default, more standards compliant than Firefox, Safari and Chrome.

Empirically, it shows Microsoft doesn’t have a monopoly in this market (otherwise Firefox would never have a chance, and yes, the DoJ remedy was a slap on the wrist). It also shows that just because it is bundled with Windows doesn’t give it an insurmountable barrier to entry. Far from aiding customers (which is the whole point of competition laws), this remedy would burden users with an extra step in installation.

More importantly, it would hamper competition. It is impossible to bundle every competing browser, old, new, niche and hobbyist. So the commission would have to select a list of browser each edition of Windows must come with. This raises the barrier to entry – new browsers would have a significant disadvantage to the existing four because it isn’t bundled with Windows and msot users may perceive whatever Windows come with are the only choices. Yes, Opera would have a higher market share. Consumers don’t benefit. More importantly, competition doesn’t benefit.


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