Yet more trouble ahead for Microsoft?

19 Nov 2002

Software giant Microsoft has described as speculative reports that the European Commission is looking at complaints from competitors that the company is using its dominance in the operating system market to build its position in the mobile software space.

The Wall Street Journal said the complaints surround whether or not the next-generation of Microsoft’s Exchange mail server software — code-named Titanium– features application programming interfaces (APIs) that ensure it works better with mobile devices based on their own software than that of its competitors.

The new software’s ability to link mobile devices to corporate applications is seen as one of its most important new features.

There are concerns within the industry that Microsoft is holding back Titanium interfaces from potential mobile software competitors.

This would be contrary to the company’s settlement with the US Department of Justice and nine states which stipulates that Microsoft must allow third parties access to certain Windows APIs and communications protocols.

As yet the commission hasn’t disclosed the names of the competitors allegedly making the complaints.

Although one of Microsoft’s chief competitors, Sun Microsystems has gone to the commission in the past, it is refusing to confirm whether or not it is one of the companies complaining this time round.

Four years ago Sun complained to the commission, that Microsoft was designing its operating system to work better with its own server software than that of rivals. This led to the commission’s ongoing investigation into Microsoft’s monopoly position.

The commission is also investigating whether Microsoft bound its Media Player software to the operating system.

Since the antitrust settlement between the US Department of Justice and nine states and Microsoft, attention has turned to Europe.

A preliminary ruling on this by the European Commission is expected by the end of the year.

However, the reported additional complaints could see its investigations extended.

By Suzanne Byrne