At the end of last week, the Mozilla Foundation publicly voiced its concerns about certain restrictions that Microsoft is imposing on its new Windows RT operating system – the version of Windows 8 designed and optimised for ARM-based devices. Microsoft’s plan is for Internet Explorer 10 to be the only browser on Windows RT that can operate in both the new Metro and ‘classic’ Desktop environments.
Mozilla’s complaints have not gone unnoticed outside of the tech community. GigaLaw.com picked up news from The Hill that US Senate Judiciary Committee staffers intend to review the allegations made by Mozilla – and also by Google – that Microsoft’s browser policy for these devices is anti-competitive. An aide to the Chair of the Antitrust Subcommittee, Senator Herb Kohl, confirmed the Committee's plans to look into the concerns, although there are no indications as yet that anything resembling a full antitrust investigation will be launched against Microsoft.
There may well be incredulity at the idea that Microsoft - which effectively has zero share of the tablet market, alongside Apple's dominant iPad, and even the range of slow-selling Android tablets out there - could be held accountable for antitrust violations in this context. But remember that antitrust legislation is in place to prevent anti-competitive behaviour; there is no pre-requisite for a monopoly of any kind to exist for antitrust violations to be demonstrable.