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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 IP/00/141).

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 system (see IP/00/906).

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 system (see IP/01/1232).

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 (see IP/03/1150).

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 Decision”) (see 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 reasonable terms;
  • 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.

  
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