IBM, Red Hat and others Join EC Microsoft Case

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A group of tech companies has joined the likes of Google, Opera and Mozzilla in the latest EC case against the tech giant

A coalition of IT companies including the likes of IBM, Nokia, Opera, Oracle, Red Hat, and Sun Microsystems has joined the latest European Commission case against Microsoft.

In a statement released this week, the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) said that it has been recognised by the EC as an “interested third party” in the case which revolves around Microsoft’s bundling of its IE browser with Windows.

“This is an important case to ensure that browsers can compete on the merits and that consumers have a true choice in the software they use to access the World Wide Web,” said ECIS spokesman Thomas Vinje. “Smaller, more innovative browser developers need a level playing field. That is why there is such broad support for the Commission’s preliminary findings of abuse.”

The latest EC case against Microsoft was initiated by a compliant made by Norwegian browser maker Opera in December 2007.

The EC responded to the compliant by issuing a statement of objection in January this year in which it voiced concern over Microsoft’s strategy around Windows and IE and gave the company 8 weeks to respond.

“The evidence gathered during the investigation leads the Commission to believe that the tying of Internet Explorer with Windows, which makes Internet Explorer available on 90 percent of the world’s PCs, distorts competition on the merits between competing web browsers insofar as it provides Internet Explorer with an artificial distribution advantage which other web browsers are unable to match,” the EC said in a statement.

ECIS maintains that despite issues with the usability and security of Microsoft’s IE browser, it continues to dominate the market. The organisation puts this down to the continued dominance of Windows rather than the merits of IE.

“Despite consistently lower user satisfaction ratings for IE, the Microsoft browser maintains its dominant position as the gateway to the World Wide Web because of illegal bundling with the Windows operating system,” ECIS said in a statement.

ECIS joins existing tech companies contributing to the case including Mozilla Foundation and Google as well as the Free Software Foundation Europe.

According to Reuters reports, Microsoft has received a one-week extension from the EC to answer the charges over allying IE to Windows. “Microsoft confirms that the new deadline for the company to respond to the Commission’s statement of objections is April 28,” a spokeswoman told the news agency.