Google offers to help EC probe Microsoft

Google has offered to help the European Commission with its investigation of Microsoft over allegations of anti-competitive behaviour in the browser market, The Guardian

Google said it wanted to add 'perspective' to the inquiry, which will strive to establish whether Microsoft used anti-competitive means to make its Internet Explorer the most widely used browser.

'We are applying to become a third party in the European Commission's proceeding,' Sundar Pichai, who is responsible for the development of Google's own Chrome browser, wrote in a blog post.

'Google believes that the browser market is still largely uncompetitive, which holds back innovation for users. This is because Internet Explorer is tied to Microsoft's dominant computer operating system, giving it an unfair advantage over other browsers.'

The offer of help came on the same day that Google said it was launching a new version of its toolbar for Internet Explorer.

The Commission and Microsoft have a long history of investigations into accusations of anti-competitive behaviour: in 2007 the Commission fined Microsoft €497 million in 2007 and a further €899 million last year, the newspaper said.

The latest investigation was triggered by Opera, the independent Norwegian browser, which in 2007 complained that bundling Internet Explorer with Windows put competitors at a disadvantage.

Last month the Commission gave a preliminary view of proceedings in which it said that Microsoft's influence 'distorts competition'. The Commission will report on its findings over the coming months.