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Microsoft gains familiar ally in IE antitrust battle in Europe

ACT trade group joins case as third party, says there is 'something surreal' about EC's charges

By Paul Meller
April 20, 2009 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - Microsoft Corp. gained a familiar ally in its latest antitrust battle with the European Commission today when the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) was accepted as an interested third party in the case.

The software vendor also has been given more time to muster additional supporters: Last week, the EC extended until April 28 Microsoft's deadline for responding to the formal statement of objections issued in January. The response was previously due by tomorrow, a date that was set after the commission gave the company a six-week extension last month.

Several companies and organizations favorable to the EC's position already have been granted interested third-party status, most recently the European Committee for Interoperable Systems, a trade group representing vendors such as Oracle, Sun and IBM as well as the Free Software Foundation Europe.

Third-party petitions have also been accepted from Firefox developer Mozilla Corp. and Chrome creator Google Inc. In addition, the EC opened the case after receiving a complaint from Opera Software ASA, a browser maker in Norway.

Washington-based ACT, whose members include Microsoft, Oracle, eBay and dozens of smaller companies, stood by Microsoft in an earlier European antitrust case that resulted in the software vendor being found guilty of monopoly abuse in 2004. The group made passionate arguments in favor of Microsoft during hearings held by the EC and the appeals process at the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg.

It looks set to make similar interventions this time.

"There is something surreal about the entire concept of this complaint," ACT said in a statement. "Not only has the same case already been adjudicated in the U.S., but Microsoft's Internet Explorer is no longer even the No. 1 browser in Europe, let alone the dominant one." The group cited recent market share figures from Dublin-based StatCounter that place Firefox 3.0 a fraction of a percentage point ahead of IE7 in Europe.

However, ACT didn't cite the full findings of StatCounter's March 31 report, which also said that IE still had a 10% lead over Firefox in Europe when all versions of the two browsers were counted, including the new IE8 software that Microsoft released last week.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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