Currently, more than ninety percent of the world's PCs operate under Windows. To cement its market power, Microsoft has engaged in controversial business practices. Those practices have led to adverse antitrust decisions in the United States, the European Union (EU), and South Korea. Many of these decisions, both judicial and administrative, revolve around Microsoft's bundling, or "tying," of certain subsidiary applications with the Windows operating system, including Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player. In doing so, Microsoft arguably gains a greater than deserved market share with these bundled applications, inhibiting fair competition in the software marketplace. The United States, EU and South Korean antitrust decisions addressing this tying of software have each produced different outcomes in their respective jurisdictions. This Note analyzes Microsoft's newest operating system, Windows Vista, by focusing on the tying aspect of antitrust law using the precedent set by those three jurisdictions. Part I discusses the recent Microsoft antitrust litigation and settlement in the United States, the European Commission's ruling against Microsoft in the EU and the Korea Fair Trade Commission's decision against Microsoft in South Korea. Part II explains why South Korea took the most appropriate approach to opening competition for non-Microsoft applications, a method compatible with current U.S. law governing antitrust tying arrangements under the Sherman Act. Part III examines Windows Vista and its multitude of tied or bundled applications, concluding that a South Korean-type approach to Windows Vista would successfully limit Microsoft's unfair advantage in tied applications.
Daniel J. Silverthorn,
Microsoft Tying Consumers' Hands - The Windows Vista Problem and the South Korean Solution,
Mich. Telecomm. & Tech. L. Rev.
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mttlr/vol13/iss2/14