Just days before the European Union (EU) is set to announce its final ruling against Microsoft for alleged antitrust abuses, EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said he was considering a second probe into the software giant's activities. Prompted by complaints from the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), a trade organization comprised of Microsoft competitors, the EU will likely investigate whether Windows XP violates European antitrust laws by locking out competition.
"We are in preliminary investigations," an EU spokesperson said over the weekend, practically eliciting a delighted squeal from CCIA President and CEO Ed Black. "We are pleased that \[the Commission\] didn't settle \[its current antitrust case\] as this will allow the European authorities to deal with future Microsoft cases," Black said. "The Commission is taking our complaint seriously. It has sent the letters to us. The process is going on. A lot of people do not want to live in a Microsoft-only world. Microsoft has a way of making its anticompetitive tools support the monopoly efforts in other areas. If the Commission finds the scheme anticompetitive, then it will need to impose sweeping, structural remedies."
Given the glacial pace of its initial Microsoft probe, the EU probably won't propose any sweeping structural remedies against Microsoft in the near future. The EU launched the case that's winding up this week more than 5 years ago, and 5 years from now, XP will likely be an unsupported legacy product. Even the current case could still be tied up in the European courts at that point if the courts let Microsoft appeal what's expected to be a devastating decision.
Regarding the CCIA allegations, Microsoft says it will reply when and if required by European courts. "We will look at the issues when they are raised and address them if necessary," a Microsoft spokesperson said over the weekend.