Information Communication Technologies (ICT)
Cases > Microsoft case
The Commisson's investigation
The case originated with a December 1998 complaint from Sun Microsystems
alleging that Microsoft was refusing to supply it with interoperability
information necessary to interoperate with Microsoft’s dominant PC operating
system. In February 2000, following information obtained from the market,
the Commission broadened the scope of its investigation to examine Microsoft’s
conduct with regard to its Windows Media Player product (see
On 1 August 2000, on the basis of an initial investigation, the Commission
sent Microsoft a Statement of Objections alleging that Microsoft was denying
to disclose interface information which rival work group server operating system vendors
needed to interoperate with Microsoft’s dominant Windows PC operating
On 30 August 2001, the Commission sent Microsoft a second Statement of
Objections. This: (i) confirmed and expanded the interoperability objections
of the first Statement of Objections, in particular by taking into account
Microsoft’s recently released Windows 2000 generation of PC and server
operating systems; and (ii) alleged that Microsoft had engaged in anti-competitive
tying of its Windows Media Player product with its Windows PC operating
On 6 August 2003, on the basis of additional evidence that the Commission
had gathered, a third Statement of Objections confirming both the interoperability
and tying objections of the second Statement of Objections was sent to
Microsoft provided responses to each Statement of Objections. In addition,
following the third Statement of Objections, Microsoft requested an Oral
Hearing. This was held on 12-14 November 2003.
Following an extensive analysis of the evidence on the file, the Commission
concluded its investigation on 24 March 2004 by way of a Decision (“the
IP/04/382 and MEMO/04/70).
This Decision found that Microsoft had abused its dominant position in
the PC operating system market by:
- refusing to supply competitors in the work group server operating
system market interface information necessary for their products to
interoperate with Windows, and hence to compete viably in the market.
The Decision ordered Microsoft to disclose, within 120 days, complete
and accurate interface information which would allow rival vendors to
interoperate with Windows, and to make that information available on
- harming competition through the tying of its separate Windows Media
Player product with its Windows PC operating system. The Decision ordered
Microsoft to provide, within 90 days, a version of Windows which did
not include Windows Media Player.
See a summary of the Decision. The full text of the Decision is available in English and French in the case page.