Legal and Economic Analysis of a Transatlantic Antitrust Case
New Horizons in Competition Law and Economics series
Edited by Luca Rubini
Chapter 1: The Basic Technology Issues at Stake
Colin Jackson* INTRODUCTION Both sides of the European Microsoft case involved a debate over whether it was appropriate to impose an obligation on a very large player in order to achieve compensating advantages for other players. Thus, with respect to interoperability, the case concerned whether Microsoft should be compelled to deliver details of how to reproduce certain features of its server technology so that other manufacturers could guarantee that their servers would function seamlessly as a part of a Windows network. This involved documenting and sharing technical information to assist in building those features only – but not duplicating the software code involved. As to tying, the case concerned whether Microsoft, having launched a new version of Windows with extra products built into it such that other suppliers of such products might be threatened, could be obliged to redesign Windows to deliver an operating system without those products. In both sides of the case the obligation imposed was balanced against the advantage for others. From the viewpoint of a participant in the EC case, its technical basis was significantly more complex than its US counterpart. This chapter concentrates on the former. However, a brief comparison with the latter is included later that builds upon the explanations of the technology concerning the EC case. Many of the articles written about the Microsoft proceedings fail to convey the technical complexity of the issues at stake. The almost byzantine complication of these topics, combined with the unavoidability of dealing with the ferocious, technical details,...