Vista faces new European Commission investigation

As Microsoft still struggles to comply with the European Commission’s 2004 anti-trust judgement, the company is now facing the threat of further legal action over its forthcoming Windows Vista operating system.

As Microsoft still struggles to comply with the European Commission’s 2004 anti-trust judgement, the company is now facing the threat of further legal action over its forthcoming Windows Vista operating system.

The Commission has written to the company expressing concern that it intends bundling internet search and document management features into the package, which could threaten existing suppliers of these technologies.

Competition commissioner Neelie Kroes has sent a letter to the company outlining two main areas of concern regarding Vista, and asking whether it conforms to the 2004 anti-trust judgement.

The Commission has questioned the inclusion of internet search facilities, digital rights management (DRM), and software to create document formats similar to the widely used PDF (portable document format) from Adobe.

The Commission is also concerned as to whether enough Vista technical information will be available to third parties, to enable them to produce competing products that are interoperable.

Microsoft is attending a final two-day compliance hearing from today in Brussels. If the Commission finds that the company has not fully complied with the 2004 judgement, the company risks a daily £1.4m fine.

So far, the Commission has found that Microsoft’s workgroup server protocols are not fully interoperable with those from rival products.

The letter sent to the company does not signal an immediate investigation into Vista by the Commission, but one may be likely if there are complaints from rival suppliers.

Microsoft said it was committed to making Vista interoperable with rival products.

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