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February 10, 2009

Mozilla joins EU case against Microsoft’s Internet Explorer

Posted by David Hunter at 6:36 PM ET.

Dawn Kawamoto at CNET reports that a source says that Mozilla has moved to formally join the European Union case against Internet Explorer that was revealed in January.

Mozilla has been granted a seat at the table in the European Commission’s antitrust case against Microsoft, an EC source said Tuesday.

Mozilla requested and was granted "third-party status," which entitles the organization behind the popular Firefox browser to receive access to confidential documents in the case and the ability to voice objections, the source said.

Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker voices the corporate discontent even if she is a trifle fuzzy on what should be done about it:

Last month the European Commission stated its preliminary conclusion that “Microsoft’s tying of Internet Explorer to the Windows operating system harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice.”

In my mind, there is absolutely no doubt that the statement above is correct. Not the single smallest iota of doubt. I’ve been involved in building and shipping web browsers continuously since before Microsoft started developing IE, and the damage Microsoft has done to competition, innovation, and the pace of the web development itself is both glaring and ongoing. There are separate questions of whether there is a good remedy, and what that remedy might be. But questions regarding an appropriate remedy do not change the essential fact. Microsoft’s business practices have fundamentally diminished (in fact, came very close to eliminating) competition, choice and innovation in how people access the Internet.

Swell (and I am no fan of Internet Explorer or the Web sites whose functionality is reduced for visitors using any other browser), but that is all water under the bridge at this point. The important question is what can or should be done about it now. The obvious answer seems to be that if the European Commission’s premise is accepted, then Microsoft should be required to ship other browsers with each copy of Windows, but I wonder if Baker’s coyness about remedies is actually part of an attempt to reopen the overall antitrust case against Windows.



Filed under Antitrust, Coopetition, General Business, Governmental Relations, Internet Explorer, Legal, Microsoft, Mozilla Foundation

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