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DOJ asked to stop MS monopolization of browser market

  Info-Policy-Notes | Newsletter available from listproc@cptech.org
  October 27, 1997
       More than 1,500 consumers, businesses, professors and high 
       technology experts write the US Department of Justice 
       supporting actions to stop Microsoft from monopolizing the 
       market for Internet browsers.
  Fmi: James Love   202.387.8030 | love@cptech.org
       Consumer Project on Technology | http://www.cptech.org
        Today the Consumer Project on Technology (CPT) presented the U.S.
  Department of Justice (DOJ) with a letter signed by more than 1,500
  consumers, businesses, professors and high technology experts, asking
  the government to stop Microsoft from monopolizing the market for
  Internet browsers.  The letter states:
          Microsoft should not be permitted to drive 
          Netscape and other products out of the market 
          by offering the Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) 
          for free; and Microsoft should not be permitted to 
          bundle the MSIE with its operating system, or 
          integrate the MSIE with the operating system in ways 
          that are unavailable to other firms.
  The full text of the letter is on the Internet at
  http://www.essential.org/antitrust/ms/browserletter.html (no period).
       The letter to DOJ was circulated on the Internet for several weeks
  prior to the DOJ announcement of its Antitrust action against Microsoft
  for violations of a 1995 consent degree.
       The current DOJ antitrust action against Microsoft addresses some
  but not all of the issues raised in the letter.  DOJ is asking the court
  to prevent Microsoft from requiring computer manufacturers to install
  Microsoft's Internet Explorer on new computers, and to make it easier
  for consumers to remove the MSIE once it is installed.
       A key issue in both the litigation and the petition to DOJ concerns
  Microsoft's attempts to integrate the MSIE into its Windows operating
  system.  Microsoft's new active desktop for MSIE4.0 provides very deep
  integration with the Windows 95 operating system.  The current Windows
  95 file manager (now called the Window's Explorer) is replaced by the
  browser, making it unnecessary for consumers to launch Netscape or any
  other browser to view Web pages.  Microsoft says it plans to make this
  integration mandatory for Window 98, the version of Windows that will be
  shipped next year.  CPT and others are concerned that the MSIE will have
  unequal access to undocumented aspects of the Windows operating system,
  making it increasingly difficult for competitors to match the
  performance or functionality of the MSIE.
       At present Microsoft is spending perhaps hundreds of millions of
  dollars to develop and promote its MSIE, which it gives away.  By
  integrating the MSIE into Windows 98, so that you cannot buy Windows
  without MSIE, and by guaranteeing universal installation of its browser
  on all new computers sold with the Windows operating system, Microsoft
  is seeking to monopolize the browser market.
       CPT and others believe the browser market is a particularly
  important application, since it acts as a platform for many other
  software applications and information services.  After Microsoft began
  offering its MSIE for free, there has been large reduction in the number
  of firms who offer alternative browsers.  Today Netscape is the only
  firm currently spending a significant amount of money to develop a
  competitive product.  If Microsoft succeeds in driving Netscape and
  other firms from the browser market, Microsoft will be in a position to
  exercise enormous control a wide range of standards for Internet
  publishing and electronic commerce.
       The letter to DOJ says that consumers benefit from competition,
  particularly from greater innovation and more consumer choice.  For
  example, the letter expressed concern that the lack of current
  competition in the browser market, plus the predatory pricing by
  Microsoft, has limited consumers choices for features of browsers that
  would enhance consumer privacy, or permit consumers to better manage
  advertising or other commercial content.
       The letter sent to DOJ said the issue of predatory pricing was:
  "not a general complaint about free software or even promotional
  offers," but rather a specific complaint about a particular practice
  which concerns Microsoft's efforts to "extend its current OS monopoly
  power to the platform for a new generation of Internet applications." 
  The current DOJ litigation does not specially address the issue of
  predatory pricing of the browser.
       These and other Microsoft issues will be discussed at a November 13
  and 14 Conference in Washington, DC, hosted by Essential Information. 
  Information about "Appraising Microsoft's Global Strategy" is on the web
  at: http://www.appraising-microsoft.org/ (no period).
  Fmi: James Love     202.387.8030; love@cptech.org
                      Consumer Project on Technology
  Background documents about the Microsoft Antitrust case:
  DOJ's has a number of documents from the 1995 court Microsoft case on
  the Web at:
  One of the better documents about the current case is the Supplemental
  Memorandum to Civil Action 94-1564, apparently filed on October 20,
  1997, titled, "Memorandum Of The United States In Support Of Petition
  For An Order To Show Cause Why Respondent Microsoft Corporation Should
  Not Be Found In Civil Contempt," which is at:
  Microsoft's press office has some information on the Web at:
  See also http://www.essential.org/antitrust/microsoft
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