EU Relaxes Microsoft Anti-Trust Monitoring

Dennis Faas's picture

The EU-emblazoned noose wrapped around Microsoft's neck might soon be loosening. According to reports today, the EU (European Union) has announced that it will discontinue constant monitoring of the Redmond-based company for anti-trust violations.

The EU has regularly attacked Microsoft over anti-trust matters and has for some time used a special, independent committee to constantly watch Microsoft's every move overseas.

"Changes in Microsoft's behavior..."

However, that's now changed and it appears that Microsoft might be owed some credit for the let-up. In a statement, EU Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd noted that the transition was being made due to "changes in Microsoft's behavior, the increased opportunity for third parties to exercise their rights directly before national courts, and experience gained since the adoption of the 2004 Decision." The latter forced Microsoft to share interoperability data with its competitors. (Source:

The EU wasn't entirely clear what "experiences" it had in mind when it announced the investigation's suspension. According to official documents, the Commission has credited Microsoft for fully documenting interoperability data and pursuing new legal phrasing in its licensing agreements that provide a licensee with more legal alternatives if a conflict over access should emerge. (Source:

The decision doesn't mean Microsoft is completely off the hook. The software giant will still be monitored from time to time, but it will be on an "as-needed" basis and won't be as official as the committee previously organized for such purposes.

How could this affect Windows 7?

In addition, the EU's Commission is still investigating Microsoft's practice of bundling Internet Explorer with its Windows operating system. A decision on that matter could have huge ramifications for the Microsoft's next major OS release, Windows 7, due sometime later this year or early 2010.

And yet, this most recent move is a surprising gesture for an often rocky relationship. Only a year ago the Commission levied an enormous 899 million euros fine against Microsoft for failing to adhere to its 2004 ruling.

Perhaps a rocky economy or some honest work by Microsoft has helped soften up that toughie, Mr. EU.

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