Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Critical Appraisal of Remedies in the E.U. Microsoft Cases

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Nic Economides (NYU - Stern School of Business) and Ioannis Liannos (UCL Law) have posted A Critical Appraisal of Remedies in the E.U. Microsoft Cases.

ABSTRACT: We discuss and compare the remedies from the European Union’s two cases against Microsoft. The first E.U. case (“E.U. Microsoft I”) alleged that Microsoft illegally bundled the Windows Media Player with Windows and that Microsoft did not provide adequate documentation that would allow full interoperability between Windows servers and non- Microsoft servers, as well as between Windows clients and non-Microsoft servers. After finding Microsoft liable and imposing a large fine, the E.U. imposed as remedies two requirements on Microsoft: (1) to sell a version of Windows without Windows Media Player (“Windows-N”) and (2) to publish and license interoperability information. Windows-N was a commercial failure, and there has been only limited cross-platform server entry. In its second investigation of Microsoft (“E.U. Microsoft II”), the E.U. alleged illegal tying of Internet Explorer with Windows. The E.U. settled with Microsoft by having them accept the “choicescreen proposal”: an obligation to ask consumers whose computers have Internet Explorer pre-installed to choose a browser from a menu of competing browsers through compulsory Windows updates. Thus, the E.U. imposed quite different remedies in the two cases: an unbundling remedy for the Windows Media Player but close to a must-carry requirement for Internet Explorer. We analyze and compare the different approaches.

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