Unfair maybe, but Microsoft has the right to bar browsers from Windows RT

2012-May-11 | Tags: analysisappscompatibilitygoogle

Windows on ARMSuddenly, the new Microsoft doesn't look all that different from the old one. During court proceedings for the 1998-2001 antitrust trial, government lawyers accused Microsoft of playing favorites by providing its developers access to information not available to third parties -- thus giving Internet Explorer unfair competitive advantage over Netscape. The company's browser policy regarding Windows RT isn't just much the same, it's much more. IE gets hugely exclusive access. The question: Is it anticompetitive?

The answer isn't as simple as some people might think. For example, look at Apple. Is it anticompetitive that the company effectively bars competing browsers from iOS? It's a Safari-only platform, lest browser developers work by proxy, like Opera does. Windows has an acquired monopoly on Intel-based PCs. Apple imposes one in part, by controlling everything on its platform, which is exclusive to its own hardware. Something else to ponder: Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly on ARM as it does on x86. There's no position of market dominance to exert anticompetitive behavior, as could be defined under US antitrust law. Microsoft is within its rights to shut out Chrome, Firefox and other browsers while favoring Internet Explorer. But that doesn't make it right.

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Windows on ARM - Windows RT