The eagle-eyed folks over at PC Pro have gone through the Microosft's latest filing to the SEC and discovered something interesting - that the Redmond giant is already worried about possible EU penalties that could see competing browsers being installed into the Windows OS by Microsoft or OEMs.
In January 2008 the Commission opened a competition law investigation related to the inclusion of various capabilities in our Windows operating system software, including Web browsing software. The investigation was precipitated by a complaint filed with the Commission by Opera Software ASA, a firm that offers Web browsing software. On January 15, 2009, the European Commission issued a statement of objections expressing the Commission’s preliminary view that the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows since 1996 has violated European competition law. According to the statement of objections, other browsers are foreclosed from competing because Windows includes Internet Explorer. We will have an opportunity to respond in writing to the statement of objections within about two months. We may also request a hearing, which would take place after the submission of this response. Under European Union procedure, the European Commission will not make a final determination until after it receives and assesses our response and conducts the hearing, should we request one. The statement of objections seeks to impose a remedy that is different than the remedy imposed in the earlier proceeding concerning Windows Media Player. While computer users and OEMs are already free to run any Web browsing software on Windows, the Commission is considering ordering Microsoft and OEMs to obligate users to choose a particular browser when setting up a new PC. Such a remedy might include a requirement that OEMs distribute multiple browsers on new Windows-based PCs. We may also be required to disable certain unspecified Internet Explorer software code if a user chooses a competing browser. The statement of objections also seeks to impose a significant fine based on sales of Windows operating systems in the European Union. In January 2008, the Commission opened an additional competition law investigation that relates primarily to interoperability with respect to our Microsoft Office family of products. This investigation resulted from complaints filed with the Commission by a trade association of Microsoft’s competitors. [emphasis added]
Microsoft has two months to respond to the charges before the EU makes a ruling. Microsoft could also request a hearing.
This is troubled waters that Microsoft is entering into at a time when the company is gearing up to release Windows 7.