Consumers Already Trumped the EU in its Pursuit of Microsoft

Published January 20, 2009

The European Commission ruled on January 16, 2009 that Microsoft Corp.’s practice of bundling its Internet Explorer browser with the Windows operating system violates the antitrust rules of the European Union.

James Lakely, managing editor of Info Tech & Telecom News, a publication of The Heartland Institute, disagrees with the decision and made the following comments. You may quote from this statement or contact Lakely directly at [email protected] or (626) 421-9414.

“Microsoft’s Internet Explorer held a global market share of nearly 90 percent in 2004, but that share has fallen steadily since then, because consumers voluntarily flocked to other browsers—such as Mozilla’s Firefox. According to the French tech-research company XiTi Monitor, Microsoft’s share of the European market totals less than 60 percent. That’s the smallest market share for Microsoft since the late 1990s when IE overtook Netscape—itself once considered an unconquerable browser colossus that sits in the growing landfill of Internet business failures.

“Proof of a healthy browser market in Europe can be found in the Firefox browser’s remarkable climb. Firefox, which debuted in November 2004, held a 20 percent market share worldwide just 14 months later. By the end of 2008, 31 percent of Web surfers in EU countries used Firefox—and nearly all of its gains seem to have come at the expense of Microsoft’s IE.

“More proof of a healthy market: Google’s new Chrome browser is being used by 1 percent of European computer users. That figure is unimpressive—until one realizes Chrome debuted just four months ago, and already is putting a scare into its browser competitors.

“It is long past time for bureaucrats, judges, and lawyers to shed the false notion that they can pick software winners and losers better than consumers participating in a free market.”