Microsoft's plucky challengers, Bing and Edge, might gain DMA exemptions

You have to be dominant to draw attention of the regulators, or so say sources

Microsoft has issued a Windows 10 patch to address EU regulators' concerns about its ubiquitous OS as industry chatter swirls around Edge and Bing potentially dodging antitrust watchdogs due to a lack of dominance.

In other words, despite all the AI attention lavished on Bing and Edge, Microsoft's two less-loved products might not merit inclusion on the EU's Digital Market Act hitlist in the same way its enterprise-dominating Windows operating system does. Or the way competing browsers and search products from Apple and Google do.

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) was created to deal with the perceived power of the tech giants. It gives the European Commission powers to designate companies as gatekeepers, subject to sanction if mitigating measures – such as permitting interoperability by third parties – are not implemented.

Microsoft last year began arguing that its Bing search product, Edge browser, and Microsoft Ads – which it regarded as challengers in the market – should be exempted. According to reports, the European Commission is leaning Microsoft's way.

A final decision is not expected for another two weeks, and Microsoft refused to comment before the decision is officially announced. However, sources familiar with the situation told The Register that while market share isn't a consideration for DMA designation, forcing something like a choice-screen solution onto Bing or Edge could actually result in what little traffic they receive being driven to the real gatekeeper in search, big old Google.

We doubt that this is an outcome that regulators would welcome.

As for the DMA compliance preview patch for Windows 10, it will allow users in the European Economic Area to uninstall all apps in Windows by March 6 – including ditching Microsoft Edge or uninstalling Web Search from Microsoft Bing

Microsoft issued the patch, KB5034203, yesterday, and it places all Windows 10 22H2 PCs in the European Economic Area into compliance.

If the EU's decision on Microsoft's less popular products goes Microsoft's way, then Bing, Edge, and Microsoft Ads will be exempted. However, the domination of LinkedIn and Windows is enough to ensure those products will still require Microsoft to meet obligations imposed under the DMA. ®

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