Reports that the EU regulators have now formally accused Microsoft of antitrust charges for including Internet Explorer as part of the Windows operating system is hardly a surprise. Apparently in December 2007 the Opera Software the Norwegian browser developed filed a complaint with the EU that Microsoft violated EU antitrust laws. Opera’s 2007 complaint jump-started the EU’s Competition Commission and only a few months earlier Microsoft ceased appealing the EU’s 2004 antitrust violations related to the Media Player that included fines of $1.3 billion.

What Happens Next?

Microsoft has 8 weeks to respond to the EU why Internet Explorer should not be removed from the Windows operating system. But it seems clear that the EU wants Microsoft to change it marketing practices or risk more fines. Stay tuned for more rulings from the EU on these charges.

Historical Perspective

The Internet’s been around since the 1960’s as an academic research platform to help the space race in response to Russia launch of Sputnik in 1957. Until the browser was available the Internet was not user friendly. The Internet was a lot like MS-DOS before the advent of the mouse and GUI (graphic user interfaces) and using the Internet required users to know arcane and alien instructions. What changed the Internet and allowed it to take off was that Microsoft started giving away Internet Explorer with Windows in about 1995. Of course other browsers existed before 1995, but had it not been for Microsoft embedding Internet Explorer as part of Windows it is debatable whether the Internet would have taken off when it did and with such gusto.

Irony of Ironies

It seems ironic that Microsoft is now being penalized for including the Internet Explorer with Windows, since had Microsoft not embedded Internet Explorer with Windows in the mid 1990’s, the Internet may never had developed at the pace it has.

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