Staffers for the US Senate Judiciary Committee revealed Friday that they'll examine allegations that Microsoft is unfairly limiting its web browser competitors in the version of Windows 8 aimed at ARM-based tablets. This system, dubbed Windows RT, will allow only Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) to work properly, according to allegations made by Mozilla and Google.
I previously wrote about these allegations in "Mozilla, Google Gripe About Windows RT Limitations." The company’s criticisms of Microsoft’s limitations appear to be technically valid. Whether this action warrants antitrust attention, however, remains to be seen. Microsoft is over a decade removed from its US-based antitrust issues, and the product in question will compete in a market dominated by Microsoft’s rivals.
More to the point, complaining about the lack of desktop browser competition in a product that's aimed at tablet users is a bit of a stretch. Few if any users will be using ARM-based devices such as PCs, as the system is designed around a new multi-touch interface called Metro. Mozilla and Google are free to make Metro-based browsers that target this new environment and compete with the Metro version of IE, Microsoft says.
News of the nascent government examination comes courtesy of an aide to antitrust subcommittee chairman Herb Kohl.