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Microsoft hit by two more EC probes

Updated: Stop me if you've heard this one before

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The European Commission is launching two formal investigations into Microsoft.

Microsoft is accused of abusing its dominant position by unfairly tying products together - in this case its operating system and its browser, Internet Explorer. Microsoft is also accused of illegally refusing to disclose interoperability information across a range of products including Office, server software and .NET.

The Commission will also investigate whether the software giant's new office file format, Office Open XML, is interoperable enough with competing products. This refers to a complaint made by the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS). Microsoft assured the Court of First Instance last year that it would work with competitors to provide all necessary interoperability information.

The unfair tying case was brought following a complaint from Norwegian browser maker Opera. Opera said that Microsoft's tying of its browser with its operating system was especially damaging, because Microsoft has introduced technology into its browser which reduces compatibility with open internet standards. Microsoft will also be investigated for allegedly illegally tying other products like Desktop Search and Windows Live.

The EC statement notes: "This initiation of proceedings does not imply that the Commission has proof of an infringement. It only signifies that the Commission will further investigate the case as a matter of priority."

The Commission has already found Microsoft guilty of abusing its monopoly position in regards to tying its media player to its operating system and its failure to provide sufficient interoperability information relating to workgroup servers.

The EC statement is here.

Updated: Microsoft sent us the following statement: "We will cooperate fully with the Commission’s investigation and provide any and all information necessary. We are committed to ensuring that Microsoft is in full compliance with European law and our obligations as established by the European Court of First Instance in its September 2007 ruling."®

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