History repeats itself, or so they say. And it looks like it might be repeating itself with none other than Microsoft.
Microsoft has been working on Windows RT, which is a version of Windows 8 made for ARM-based touch screen tablets and laptops. As ZDNet explains it, Windows RT has two interfaces: Metro and a Windows 7-style desktop. The desktop interface has been designed to run only Microsoft applications, including Internet Explorer.
Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox web browser, and Google, which owns Chrome, have raised concerns about this limitation.
Though other browsers can still run in the Metro interface, Metro applications have limited functionality. They can't access win32 APIs, without which Firefox claims "no other browser has a prayer of being competitive with IE" on Windows RT machines.
Google believes the move "restrict[s] user choice and innovation."
Mozilla general counsel Harvey Anderson is drawing comparison to the earlier Microsoft antitrust cases, according to the Wall Street Journal. Those, too, dealt with the integration of Windows and Internet Explorer, which was given to consumers for free. He's also suggested that Microsoft is foreclosing competition in violation of a 2006 settlement with the Department of Justice.
It's unclear whether the Justice Department or the FTC will step in -- they're busy with Apple and Google, respectively. Windows RT has not officially launched and the tablet market is currently dominated by Apple iOS and Google's Android. Moreover, no one knows whether Windows RT and Microsoft tablets will be big or just big duds.
Nonetheless, Firefox and Google have given Microsoft something to think about. With its antitrust history, Microsoft may want to invite a little more competition to the table.
- Why Mozilla believes Firefox on Windows RT is a bust (CNET)
- Google Antitrust Case: FTC Keeps Lawyering Up (FindLaw's In House)
- Justice Department's Antitrust Lawsuit Against Apple, Publishers over E-books (FindLaw's Courtside)