EC Principle 2: Prelude

March 18th, 2009

As I look at this principle (“Windows can’t provide a technical advantage to IE”), I’m sure that there will be a set of comments asking (a) why can’t Microsoft do whatever it wants with Windows, and (b) if there are limits on Microsoft, what about Apple? So I’ve added this post to address those questions.

The answer is the monopoly status of the Windows operating system. With over 90% market share for a decade or so, the concern is that this dominance allows Windows to damage the structure of competition. This concern is reflected in anti-trust laws. So this would not apply to Apple unless and until Apple has a monopoly or dominant position with the desktop operating system (today its market share is in the single digits).

It may be that many of the people saying Microsoft should be able to do whatever it wants are both familiar with anti-trust law and reject the entire idea. That’s a different discussion than the one I’m focused on. I’ve focused on two topics that bracket the legal decisions:

  1. Has the integration of IE into Windows damaged competition? Mozilla has more experience in this area than almost anyone (Opera being the other long term competitor), so I feel qualified to address this; and
  2. How do we think about remedies? What kinds of remedies make sense, which are likely to cause unintended consequences?

There’s an obvious question in the middle of these: Does the harm caused by the integration of IE into Windows violate EU competition/anti-trust law? That’s the classic “application of law to the facts of a case” at the heart of a legal decision. I know a lot about the factual difficulties of competing but much less about the precise application of European Union law.

The EC has signaled its preliminary conclusion that the integration does violate EU law and that remedies are likely to be imposed. I feel it’s important to try to have our experience and expertise reflected in the EC’s deliberations. Thus my focus on the difficulties of competing with IE in the current setting, and on the principles that might guide our thinking on remedies.

2 comments for “EC Principle 2: Prelude”

  1. 1

    Xerox said on March 19th, 2009 at 1:21 pm:

    I find it fascinating to see an American like you meddling in the affairs of a European institution which is in turn meddling with another American company (microsoft) at the request from a company (opera) that is based in a country (Norway) that is not part of the eu.

    Also your interfering is pointless as whatever you do you will only apply to the EU versions of Windows (even assuming your successful) and no-one will care about your changes just like the lame Windows N edition. Even more will just pirate windows just to get the versions not gimped by your proposals and whatever else the sour grapes groups can come up with.

  2. 2

    Ken Saunders said on March 19th, 2009 at 2:13 pm:

    @ Xerox
    Microsoft and Mozilla are hardly JUST American companies. Especially since both have global reach and interests and Microsoft profits immensely outside of the U.S.
    By the way, have you ever heard of Mozilla Europe.
    Take a peek.

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