Microsoft's move to prevent major browsers from reaching the Windows RT desktop has resulted in a fierce war of words from its browser rivals, including Mozilla and Google.
In what will likely come as a further headache for Microsoft, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee plans to look at the allegations that Microsoft's decision may once again lead it down the antitrust path.
Aide to the Chair of the Antitrust Subcommittee, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), confirmed there were plans to look into Mozilla's claim that Microsoft has engaged in anti-competitive behaviour.
Windows RT shares the same user interface and as its Windows 8 counterpart, but only a handful of hand-picked applications will run in Windows RT's desktop environment, including an ARM-compatible version of Office. Most applications will be reserved for the Metro-designed Start screen.
This means while Mozilla and Google can develop Metro-designed applications for the Start screen, it will not be allowed to port it to the desktop behind the scenes.
Microsoft has nearly zero share in the tablet market and is pinning its bets on Windows RT to take on the likes of Google's Android and Apple's iPad. But Microsoft could still be served with an antitrust suit despite its minute share in the tablet space.
An antitrust suit does not have to stem from a monopoly in a market; a case can be brought even if a minority player stifled competition.
The move was criticised as anti-competitive as it would push out the two major rivals in favour of Internet Explorer, which still commands an albeit declining 53 percent majority over Firefox and Chrome, according to Net Applications.
Both Chrome and Firefox worldwide usage continues to rise, but is hampered by many business and enterprise users sticking with aging Windows XP with Internet Explorer preinstalled.
- ZDNet: Mozilla and Google accuse Microsoft of unfair browser competition
- Google paying Mozilla $300 million per year for search deal
- Mozilla begins development of Firefox for Metro
- Google joins Windows 8 browser war with plans for Metro Chrome
- CNET: Microsoft bans Firefox on ARM-based Windows, Mozilla says
- Google agrees with Mozilla’s Windows RT browser concerns