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Mozilla accuses Microsoft of anticompetitive behavior with Windows RT

May 10, 2012 12:24 PM ET

Anderson raised the antitrust flag, hinting that Mozilla may reach out to regulators in the U.S., the European Union (EU), or both.

"Windows on ARM -- as currently designed -- restricts user choice, reduces competition and chills innovation," Anderson argued. "If Windows on ARM is simply another version of Windows on new hardware, it also runs afoul of the EC browser choice commitments and seems to represent the very behavior the [Department of Justice]-Microsoft settlement sought to prohibit."

In late 2009, EU regulators struck a deal with Microsoft that requires the company to offer Windows users a "ballot screen" with alternate browsers to install and make the default. The agreement came out of an antitrust complaint filed by Norway's Opera Software, maker of Opera, two years before.

Microsoft is no longer under U.S. government scrutiny in the wake of the landmark antitrust case that also originated with complaints about its browser. The eventual settlement required Microsoft to share its APIs with third-party vendors.

In 2006, Microsoft published a set of voluntary principles it promised to adhere to, including, "Providing opportunities for developers to build innovative products on the Windows platform, including products that directly compete with Microsoft's own products."

Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith announced the assurances in an address in Washington, D.C.

That document, however, has disappeared from Microsoft's corporate citizenship website. Computerworld was unable to locate a copy on any part of the company's site.

Dotzler noticed. "This is in direct violation of the promises they made to developers, users, and OEMs about browser choice in documents which mysteriously disappeared from Microsoft's site," he said yesterday, and provided a link to a copy (download PDF).

And Google, creator of Chrome, seconded Mozilla's apprehension about Windows RT. "We share the concerns Mozilla has raised regarding the Windows 8 environment restricting user choice and innovation," a Google spokesman said in an email. "In the end, consumers and developers benefit the most from robust competition."

Microsoft declined to comment on Mozilla's accusations.

Both Mozilla and Google have committed to create versions of their current browsers that run on Windows 8 -- the edition for Intel and AMD processors -- in both the desktop and Metro environments on that version.

covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at Twitter @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed Keizer RSS. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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