Microsoft Versus EU: Browser Wars - Part 2

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The history of the EU's antitrust battles with Microsoft date back to March 24, 2004, when the "EU says Microsoft broke antitrust law by denying technical information to competitors and bundling its Media Player software with Windows" and forced them to pay a 497 million Euros fine. These legal battles ended for the time being on January 15, 2009, when the "EU sends preliminary charges to Microsoft, saying it believes the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows is illegal."

Apparently though, the European Union wants to change its previous course of action and diverge from punishing violators of EU laws with steep fines and move to a new round of sanctions:

"Rather than forcing Microsoft to strip its Internet Explorer from Windows, people close to the case say, the EU is now ready to try the opposite measure: Forcing a bunch of browsers into Windows, thus diluting Microsoft's advantage.

The sanctions would come from an EU investigation that began last year. In a sign of how rapidly the case is progressing, these people say, the possible penalty has emerged as a key focus in discussions between the parties.

The potential action would be a sharp parting blow by Europe's competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes, as she enters the waning months of a term marked by aggressive enforcement. This month, Mrs. Kroes hit semiconductor maker Intel Corp. with a record antitrust fine of $1.48 billion.

The EU hasn't made a final ruling on Microsoft, and likely won't for at least several weeks. An EU spokesman says any sanction against Microsoft "would be based on the fundamental principle of unbiased choice."

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