Microsoft’s activities have yet again attracted the attention of the EU commissioner, this time with reference to Vista, the next version of Windows due out… Well, sometime. The EC is investigating possible anti-trust concerns about the OS, and Microsoft will be told that it must forego plans to bundle certain software and services from Windows Vista. Exactly which software and services has not yet been fully disclosed and remains somewhat of a mystery. If Microsoft does not comply, the penalty may be that Vista cannot be sold in Europe, a situation Microsoft is unlikely to accept. Some details on the software in question have sort of been revealed, though:
The EC is apparently concerned that a future feature of the operating system that enables users to produce PDF files (Portable Document Format, or Adobe Acrobat) from common documents such as Microsoft Office files. If this is indeed correct, the EC is worried that such a feature would unfairly compete with similar offerings from Adobe itself, which created the format, even though Adobe has worked for the last decade to make PDF a standard and license it to other companies. Other independent software manufacturers also sell utilities that convert Office document formats to PDF files.
This may well constitute the first of a new wave of antitrust concerns about Microsoft's forthcoming OS. Currently, the EU's commissioner for competitiveness, Neelie Kroes, is studying whether certain features of Vista may be giving Microsoft an unfair advantage.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has been defending itself at an EU hearing. The company said that it has lived up to European Union antitrust demands, and is seeking to avoid new fines at the start of a two-day hearing with regulators. EU spokesman Jonathan Todd, however, disagrees.
Jonathan Todd said the company still has to comply with a 2-year-old antitrust order to share technical information with rivals.
"The best outcome for everybody would be that Microsoft were to finally do that," he said.