Brad Smith, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, on the European Commission’s decision in favor of formal adoption of measures Microsoft has offered to address competition law issues.
The following is a statement by Brad Smith, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation, regarding the European Commission’s decision in favor of formal adoption of measures Microsoft has offered to address competition law issues relating to Windows, Office and other high volume products:
We are pleased with today’s decision by the European Commission, which approves a final resolution of several longstanding competition law issues in Europe. We look forward to building on the dialogue and trust that has been established between Microsoft and the Commission and to extending our industry leadership on interoperability.
Today’s resolution follows years of intensive examination by the European Commission of competition in computer software. The measures approved today reflect multiple rounds of input from industry participants relating to competition in Web browser software and interoperability between various Microsoft products and competing products.
The Web browser measures cover the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows for users in Europe—specifically the region known as the European Economic Area, which includes 30 nations. Under today’s resolution, Microsoft commits that PC manufacturers and users will continue to be able to install any browser on top of Windows, to make any browser the default browser on new PCs, and to turn access to Internet Explorer on or off. In addition, Microsoft will send a “browser choice” screen to Windows users who are running Internet Explorer as their default browser. This browser choice screen will present a list of browsers, making it easy for users to install any one of them. It will be provided both to users of new computers and to the installed base of Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 computers in Europe where Internet Explorer is set as the default browser.
The second measure is a “public undertaking” that covers interoperability with Microsoft’s products—the way our high-share products work with non-Microsoft technologies. This applies to an important set of Microsoft’s products—our Windows, Windows Server, Office, Exchange, and SharePoint products. We believe it represents the most comprehensive commitment to the promotion of interoperability in the history of the software industry. Under this undertaking, Microsoft will ensure that developers throughout the industry, including in the open source community, will have access to technical documentation to assist them in building products that work well with Microsoft products. Microsoft will also support certain industry standards in its products and fully document how these standards are supported. Microsoft will make available legally-binding warranties that will be offered to third parties.
Our interoperability undertaking reflects the policy outlined by the European Commission in a major policy speech given by Commissioner Neelie Kroes in June 2008. At that time, the Commissioner said that companies offering high-share software products should be required to (i) disclose technical specifications to enable interoperability; (ii) ensure that competitors can access complete and accurate information and have a remedy if not; and (iii) ensure that the technical specifications are available at fair royalty rates, based on the inherent value of the technology disclosed. Our interoperability undertaking, developed through extensive consultation, implements this approach in full.
As we’ve said before, we are embarking on a path that will require significant change within Microsoft. Nevertheless, we believe that these are important steps that resolve these competition law concerns.
This is an important day and a major step forward, and we look forward to building a new foundation for the future in Europe.