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Microsoft faces new EC anti-trust complaint

A US computer industry lobby group has filed a complaint about Microsoft 's Windows XP operating system to the European Commission antitrust department.

The move came as the European regulator nears the end of an investigation into earlier operating system products from the software group.

Crucial issues about innovation and competition in the software industry are at stake, according to the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA).

"XP clearly violates European Union competition law," said Ed Black, president and chief executive officer of the trade association.

The complaint has two strands: first, that XP allows Microsoft to preserve an existing monopoly situation, and second that it allows the software giant to push this dominance into new markets, said Thomas Vinje, legal adviser to the CCIA and a partner at law firm Morrison & Foerster.

"Microsoft is using well-honed practices to achieve its end, and it is using them with XP more than ever before," Vinje said.

The latest complaint accuses Microsoft of bundling its Outlook Express e-mail software, Movie Maker video editing software, Instant Messenger on-screen messaging program and Media Player software into Windows XP.

It also accuses Microsoft of forcing its operating systems might into Internet-related markets, and into markets for mobile phone operating systems.

In addition, the CCIA alleged that Windows XP gives an unfair advantage to Microsoft's e-commerce trading platform, .net, by steering purchasers of XP towards signing up for Passport, the .net authentication service.

.Net Passport is the most developed online authentication system available at present.

Next year, a similar system will be launched by the Liberty Alliance, a group of companies that have agreed to use a common, open-source platform largely developed by Sun Microsystems, to offer their services and goods online.

Microsoft said, "The allegations seem similar to the ones the CCIA made in the US. It is up to the European Commission to decide what issues are relevant to its probe. We have always said we are eager to work with the commission to find a positive solution to the issues."

The CCIA represents computer electronics and phone groups including Eastman Kodak, Fujitsu, Nokia and NTT Communications, and three of Microsoft's biggest direct competitors, Sun Microsystems, AOL Time Warner and Oracle.


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