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Microsoft Loses EU Anti-Trust Appeal 322

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the sucks-to-be-them dept.
Kugrian writes "Microsoft has lost its appeal against a record 497m euro (£343m; $690m) fine imposed by the European Commission in a long-running competition dispute. The European Court of First Instance upheld the ruling that Microsoft had abused its dominant market position."
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Microsoft Loses EU Anti-Trust Appeal

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  • by jafoc (1151405) on Monday September 17, 2007 @07:19AM (#20634591) Homepage
    While the Free Software Foundation Europe [fsfeurope.org] (FSFE) which fought for this long and hard can justifiedly rejoice (FSFE press release [fsfeurope.org]), overall, I'm still very unhappy about the state of antitrust "justice".

    The biggest problem is that it took 10 years to get to this point, and Microsoft still hasn't disclosed the specs for how to make interoperable products. We're fortunate that the Free Software way of doing things is rebost enough to survive in spite of this, but profit-oriented companies simply can't hold out long enough for this kind of legal system to really help.

    What we need is clear legal rules that vendors with dominant market positions must adhere to genuinely open standards for all protocols and document formats, and of course we also need a genuinely non-corrupt standardization organization [openiso.org] Microsoft doesn't sell us something as an "open standard" which really isn't.

    • The problem with this idea for policy is defining the point at which a company becomes dominant and what happens if they get there with closed proprietary systems that are not anti-competitive in nature when they are created. I agree that companies should have a responsibility to society and should desist from anti-competitive practices... I just don't think it is always so clear-cut.
      • by jkrise (535370) on Monday September 17, 2007 @07:39AM (#20634761) Journal
        The problem with this idea for policy is defining the point at which a company becomes dominant and what happens if they get there with closed proprietary systems that are not anti-competitive in nature when they are created...

        There is no problem even in that case. There are close to a billion computers right now; and Microsoft software runs on well over 80% of them all. So what if they weren't a monopoly 20 years ago? The protocols in use RIGHT NOW must be open for public access.

        By any yardstick, it is very clear that Microsoft IS A MONOPLY in the massive worlwide PC market.
        • by imr (106517) on Monday September 17, 2007 @09:02AM (#20635725)
          By any yardstick, it is very clear that Microsoft IS A MONOPLY in the massive worlwide PC market.
          It is also clear that they maintain their monopoly by abusive practices and that the US government doesn't do anything to fix this. See the outcome of the microsoft US trial.
          So it's now clear that microsoft is used as a leverage by the us government and other governments have to step in and protect themselves. Which is happening.
    • by gravos (912628) on Monday September 17, 2007 @07:29AM (#20634693) Homepage
      Good points all around.

      Though I do wonder what level of fine it would take for Microsoft to really change it's way of doing things instead of just making whatever paltry change the regulatory body required (like selling a version of Windows that probably no one is going to buy without IE bundled in).

      I wonder because even after some pretty hefty fines in the past they seem to have changed direction very little as a company.
      • by Tom (822) on Monday September 17, 2007 @09:38AM (#20636203) Homepage Journal

        Though I do wonder what level of fine it would take for Microsoft to really change it's way of doing things
        50% of their cash, with a promise that you take the other half if they don't shape up by the deadline.

        Unfortunately, you can't do that anymore. Liberals may not win any elections, but they sure won one part of the "small, powerless government" agenda, and it ain't the "small" one. There's very little a government can do nowadays about large corporations. The problem, as others have pointed out, is that the justice system just takes too damn long. If a corporation can afford the fine, it can afford to simply wait out, because by the time the judgement comes down, it'll be mostly meaningless.

        So fines don't cut it, unless you go to extremes like in my first sentence.

        You need something equivalent to what we consider totally normal if the criminal is an individual: Lock him up during the trial, so he can't kill/rape/rob someone else in the meantime.

        If MS were in danger of being shut down until the case is closed, I'm pretty sure they would be much more enthusiastic of following what's essentially their probation conditions.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by sammy baby (14909)

          Liberals may not win any elections, but they sure won one part of the "small, powerless government" agenda, and it ain't the "small" one.

          Um... at the risk of hijacking a perfectly good discussion of antitrust into a "liberals vs conservatives" argument, the sentence I quoted gave me pause. Are you suggesting that a traditionally liberal argument is for powerless government? Because I don't know anyone of any political stripe who perceives "small, powerless government" as a "liberal" value.

          I mean, unless you

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spectre_be (664735)
      Finally, justice one could say.
      But the big winner is still microsoft of course, no way the fine undoes the years taking advantage.
      I guess the software / IT market is still growing up slowly / steadily & things like this were bound to happen.
      Let's hope it never has to come to that again.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by suv4x4 (956391)
      The biggest problem is that it took 10 years to get to this point, and Microsoft still hasn't disclosed the specs for how to make interoperable products.

      Maybe it won't matter a lot in another 10. Microsoft has abandoned its own back compat with Vista in many places and the businesses are denying Vista transition.

      In fact I've been in contact and read/heard plenty of opinions of private users, small and big businesses, government employees and they all don't want anything to do with Vista (which is increasing
      • What good is it they fined them nearly a billion. Will this help us somehow.

        (To begin with, let me tell you about a friend of mine: Mr. Question Mark [penny-arcade.com]. He's happy to help whenever you have a sentence phrased like a question.)

        However, maybe it is good that they fined them nearly a billion. I, too, doubt that that alone will make much of a dent in Microsoft's budget, but maybe it sets a precedent, and other nations may start doing the same. South Korea, for instance, springs to mind. One billion dollar fine might not make much, but if a large enough number other nations start finin

      • by SL Baur (19540) <steve@xemacs.org> on Monday September 17, 2007 @08:29AM (#20635283) Homepage Journal

        and maybe even sue the hardware vendors for not consistently offering XP as an option across the range
        As if offering Microsoft Windows XP across the board blunts the monopoly. In freer countries, one can walk into a random computer store and buy notebook computers without any Microsoft at all (and I have the store datasheets in hand to prove it), but not in San Jose, California. There's a reason for that beyond simple supply and demand economics.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Sczi (1030288)
        More amusing are the comparisons I've heard about how fast Vista is: "slow as a dying dog", "as a overweight grandma on a treadmill", "turtle on vicodin", "turtle dipped in mud climbing uphills"... Microsoft's own software (Office 2003, VS 2005, etc.) isn't compatible with their own OS right now.

        OMFG, I just can't let this stand. I don't know if you know this or not, but you're full of crap. I almost hope you're being malicious and not just ignorant. I'm running Vista Business X64 on an original pentium d
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by suv4x4 (956391)
          As a test, I just tried to beat this pc to death by multitasking the following: excel 2003, excel 2007, word 2003, word 2007, access 2003, access 2007, publisher 2003, publisher 2007, visual studio 2003, visual studio 2005, windows media player 11 (playing an mp3 with visualization running, coldfusion studio, firefox, ie7, opera, photoshop 7, thunderbird, and last but not least, Taskman.exe. Keep in mind these are all 32bit apps running on x64, so I'm taking an even bigger performance hit than usual.

          You for
        • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Monday September 17, 2007 @03:04PM (#20641987) Homepage

          As a test, I just tried to beat this pc to death by multitasking the following: excel 2003, excel 2007, word 2003, word 2007, access 2003, access 2007, publisher 2003, publisher 2007, visual studio 2003, visual studio 2005, windows media player 11 (playing an mp3 with visualization running, coldfusion studio, firefox, ie7, opera, photoshop 7, thunderbird, and last but not least, Taskman.exe.

          Wait a second. You're telling me that your OS can handle 17 idle processes and one active one when they all fit in RAM? That's amazing. Or at least it would have been in 1972...

      • Microsoft's a mess, and honestly, I do believe the EU lawsuit is a fiasco and not what we needed. What good is it they fined them nearly a billion. Will this help us somehow.

        I honestly would rather prefer they sued them for delivering unstable, incompatible, and a resource hog of an OS, and maybe even sue the hardware vendors for not consistently offering XP as an option across the range (wee see some half hearted attempts here and there, such as Dell offering XP to businesses, and not to consumers).

        Offerin

    • by MtViewGuy (197597)
      Another problem is that Microsoft makes so much money per year that 497 million could easily be paid off in one lump-sum payment. It's akin to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell fining the New England Patriots US$750,000 for that recent illegal videotaping scandal--a drop in the bucket in terms of impact.
      • $500,000 of the fine was levied directly to Belicheck - which is 1/10 his yearly income. To Microsoft that is less than 1/52 their yearly income, as they pulled down (IIRC) $13BN last quarter. It's nothing, really, other than a slap on the wrist.
    • Wait, I thought there were alternative OS's capable of kicking MS butt. I thought it was just blazing on replacing Windows? Or, is it?
    • by pieterh (196118)
      Before we all rejoice, consider that (a) Microsoft can, and will appeal, delaying any verdict by another three years (b) the fines amount to about one month of net profits, (c) Microsoft is building a new franchise strategy based on software patents that makes this ruling irrelevant. I predict MSFT's share price will wobble and then climb as this sinks in.

      It's very simple - you pay about USD$8 to distribute a print server [microsoft.com], or you are violating MS's patents and liable to be sued.

      The largest monopolist in hi
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 17, 2007 @07:19AM (#20634593)
    ...given the size of MS coffers.

    Of more significance is the fact that MS will be forced to release more code to allow competitors to compete on a level playing field with MS applications...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm sorry, but 500 million Euro is a lot of money no matter who you are. Certainly it won't break them, but it's not like they'll never miss it.
      • That amounts to far less than 1 day of revenue for them. More importantly, they HAD more than 170 BILLION in the bank in 1999. In case, you missed the uppercase AND the bold, that is billions which is 1000 x more than a million. i.e. 500 million EU (or even dollars) is a lot of money to the average person and company (in fact, to nearly all ppl and companies on this planet). But to MS, it is less than a drop in the bucket. IF EU really wanted to force MS to change, then they would charge then a daily penal
    • Note, though, that it isn't actually code that they have been ordered to release, but rather protocol specifications. Which is, of course, what everyone wants. No article I've read on the subject so far has made any mention of how the specifications need to be licensed, however. If anyone is in the know, please share that information.
  • by petercruickshank (1132185) on Monday September 17, 2007 @07:20AM (#20634605) Homepage
    I think Microsoft lost its appeal a long time ago...
  • by WPIDalamar (122110) on Monday September 17, 2007 @07:21AM (#20634613) Homepage
    So $690 million is nice for damages, but without a monitor, will any of the sanctions stick?

    I mean $690 million is almost a rounding error at Microsoft.
    • by jkrise (535370)
      So $690 million is nice for damages, but without a monitor ...

      Has Microsoft started bundling monitors and keyboards with their OSes?

      Jus' kidding!!
    • by sepluv (641107) <blakesley@NospAM.gmail.com> on Monday September 17, 2007 @07:40AM (#20634773)

      The fines will increase (exponentially I believe) until they pay. The court can freeze and seize their European assets and they have much of their money within the EU in Ireland as a US tax dodge. Also, the EU is by far MS's largest market. Not complying would be a BAD idea.

      BTW, the legal detail is over at Groklaw [groklaw.net] (basically the court sided with the EC except a minor point about the EC giving too much power to the MS appointed monitoring trustee) and there is a joint FSFE/Samba press release [fsfeurope.org]. Also, the the court published the full judgement and other court docs [europa.eu].

      • by debrain (29228)
        The fines will increase (exponentially I believe) until they pay. The court can freeze and seize their European assets and they have much of their money within the EU in Ireland as a US tax dodge. Also, the EU is by far MS's largest market. Not complying would be a BAD idea.

        Typically there is pre-judgment interest (say, around 4%), and post-judgment interest (say, around 8%) on the judgment.

        The court can seize assets as well, but typically in extreme circumstances, for example if there is a risk of flight.
    • by will_die (586523)
      They can have the monitor, they just cannot force Microsoft to pay the costs of the monitor.
  • Go Samba (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Marcion (876801) on Monday September 17, 2007 @07:23AM (#20634637) Homepage Journal
    The Court of First Instance's judgement, like the commission's before it, sees Samba as the means for competition, in the Work group server space (i.e. file servers, print servers, etc). All potential competitors to Microsoft are using Samba, (the commissions own research found that 98% of competing products in this space use Samba), so it is good that the commission and the CFI are keen to get the documentation from Microsoft in a form that open source projects such as samba can use.

    P.S. Shamless plug, I ranted a lot about this on my own site [commandline.org.uk]
    • by caluml (551744)
      The Court of First Instance's judgement, like the commission's before it, sees Samba as the means for competition, in the Work group server space (i.e. file servers, print servers, etc). All potential competitors to Microsoft are using Samba, (the commissions own research found that 98% of competing products in this space use Samba), so it is good that the commission and the CFI are keen to get the documentation from Microsoft in a form that open source projects such as samba can use.

      We get it. But how
  • by zombie_monkey (1036404) on Monday September 17, 2007 @07:27AM (#20634675)
    http://curia.europa.eu/en/actu/communiques/cp07/aff/cp070063en.pdf [europa.eu]

    They have not yet paid another fine that was imposed on them for not paying this fine, as the BBC article mentions, although in no great depth:

    Last year, Microsoft was told to pay daily fines adding up to 280.5 million euros over a six-month period, after it failed to adhere to the 2004 decision.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4552214.stm [bbc.co.uk] - another BBC piece specifically about the daily fines. Does anyone know if they've paid them or not by now?
  • by H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) on Monday September 17, 2007 @07:29AM (#20634685) Homepage Journal
    Ignore the fines, they're nothing.

    The important thing is that when MS eventually publish their specs, they will not be allowed exclude free software from using them.

    This is what FSFE and Samba have been working for since 2001, not fines.

    http://fsfeurope.org/projects/ms-vs-eu/ [fsfeurope.org]
    • The ever-increasing push of products like Sharepoint means that I can realistically see Samba fileservers becoming less relevant as more company files are shared through such technology.

      IOW, Microsoft will publish full specifications - just as soon as they're sure that doing so wouldn't cause anyone to choose Samba over Windows for a fileserver because hardly anyone's setting up a Windows box as a straight fileserver any more.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The facts of the case are old news, esp. media player bundling. What is new -- and alarming for anything potentially innovative or disruptive -- is Neelie Kroes (EU competition czar) saying that the desired outcome is for Microsoft to have 50% market share (or at least a significant reduction). That's putting the cart before the horse. What if Microsoft went open source and released a Vista UI based on a linux kernel -- would the EU still want Microsoft to have 50% market share and keep punishing them if th
    • by Marcion (876801) on Monday September 17, 2007 @07:40AM (#20634775) Homepage Journal
      It a mainstay of classic economic thought that competition is good and monopolies are bad, the classical definition of monopoly was actually 25%. The problem with having companies have more than that is that they start to wield control over the rest, their size allows them to game access to customers and suppliers.

      You argument seems to stem from the misbelief that Operating System software is a competitive market and that Microsoft got to 90% by competing fairly. If so then you would be very wrong.

      If you read today's judgement [europa.eu], you will see that Microsoft has regularly abused its' position by bundling, threats, bribes, agreements with OEMs and so on.

      Operating Systems is not a competitive market at all, if you use Linux then you will know that the biggest problem is not Windows itself but the fact that it is so dominant. As soon as you use Linux you find that shops, ISPs, firms, manufacturers and so on treat you as a second class citizen. This needs to be broken for the social good.
      • by Shados (741919)
        The one thing about that final argument: If you use a mac, quite a bit of shops, isps, firms, manufacturers, etc will give you their support just fine. Yet Windows doesnt dominate any more or less while someone use Macs...
    • would the EU still want Microsoft to have 50% market share and keep punishing them if they didn't?
      Hell no, that's way too much!
    • Could you please show us a link where we can verify>/i> your claim that "[...] Neelie Kroes (EU competition czar) saying that the desired outcome is for Microsoft to have 50% market share (or at least a significant reduction)"

      Until you do, how are we to regard this claim as anything but random noise at best?

  • I knew a guy who was well off. He'd water his lawn during droughts, and pay the fine every time. It was nothing to him, as he carelessly wasted water that other people needed to drink. Our areas reservoir dropped by a record 12 feet that year. Did he care about the hundreds of fines he recieved? Not a bit.

    Fining Microsoft is much the same case, it means nothing. Barely a blip on their radar. You want to really penalize them, start trustbusting. "Oh, I'm sorry Microsoft, you cannot sell your OS withi
    • by Idaho (12907)

      I knew a guy who was well off. He'd water his lawn during droughts, and pay the fine every time. It was nothing to him, as he carelessly wasted water that other people needed to drink. Our areas reservoir dropped by a record 12 feet that year. Did he care about the hundreds of fines he recieved? Not a bit.

      Yes, that's capitalism for you. If you don't like it, move to a different country. I would suggest a communist state, where such problems never occur [wikipedia.org].

      <insert "soviet russia" joke here>

      Alternatively,

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by downix (84795)
        The problem is, you raise the fines, you only truely hurt the small guy. Finland went with a "fine is a percentage of yearly earnings" and it helped them a lot. But, money is also only money to some people. What about restrictions, such as putting a flow-control valve. "Sorry Mr. Smith, you only are allowed 12 gallons per day, so use them wisely" for those who are chronic violators, similar to what is done with drivers licenses.
        • Finland went with a "fine is a percentage of yearly earnings" and it helped them a lot. But, money is also only money to some people.
          I know you nordics are notoriously liberal, so I expect you don't have things like stocks or the birch - but have you really gone so far as abolishing prison?
      • Alternatively, you could try to get your local government to substantially raise the fines for such violations.

        A more effective deterrent might be to rule that repeat offenders' lawns receive a complementary treatment with Roundup courtesy of the local public works department.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vadim_t (324782)
      I don't see anything wrong with what this guy is doing.

      The fines should be large enough to compensate for his waste. If they aren't then they should be increased until they are.

      The money from the fines should be used to improve the infrastructure, like waste treatment or desalination plants.

      Same goes for MS: The fines should be large enough to compensate for the damage MS is causing and used to repair it. The fines should be large enough that the benefit MS obtains by continuing their behavior is smaller th
    • He'd water his lawn during droughts, and pay the fine every time. It was nothing to him
      That's why I'm a fan of doubling the fine on each subsequent offence. Likewise for jail sentences. The laws of mathematics, economics and biology interact in a rather elegant way to make it very unlikely you'll persitently reoffend.
    • First of all, the verdict from the EU court isn't just about money.

      That court just upheld the EU commission's view that Microsoft violated EU fair competition laws. It *publicly* told Microsoft that it was dead wrong in its views that it had (a) not violated fair-competition laws, and (b) that it had done enough to comply with the EU Commission's demand for interoperability information.

      No international company (like Microsoft) can afford to shrug that off. Why? Because *every* single government out ther

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Monday September 17, 2007 @07:44AM (#20634807) Journal
    Big as it is, 600 m$ is chump change for MSFT and it would shrug and treat it as cost of doing business. Further this creates a "rally around our flag" effect kind of support of MSFT. Many Americans would go, "The damned Europeans, the gall they have punishing a Red White an Blue company.." .

    What I would really like to see is that the customers of MSFT see that it is in their best interest in having an alternative to MSFT in the desktop, server, office documentation products arena that will benefit by perfect 100% compatible interoperability. No customer would buy a Samsung TV that can play only Samsung DVD player. But why these corporations don't demand such compatibility?

    One answer is that, MSFT tax is not very big. Just 40 billion dollars a year max. For most companies, payroll, medical insurance, office rent, furniture, liability insurance, transportation, travel etc cost more than office PC/laptop. So they are not looking for savings here.

    Second, companies only focus on the differentials with their competitor. Stated differently, Coke does not care how much it spends on pc/laptops and office software as long as its competitor, Pepsi, is not spending a significantly lower amount on the same category. This explains the herd like behavior of the corporations. No body looked to outsource to India till about year 2000. One did. Showed some possible cost savings. Whether or not the savings were real, that first company's investment in India is real. Suddenly every suit is asking, "what if it pays off big time for them? What if we get left behind. Let us play it safe, hedge our bets and let us also have a presence in India."

    I don't know when it will happen. But at some point some big company would make it a priority to have a second vendor in the office software arena, and invest a sum to show it is serious. Like a herd every suit who was asking, "What is our India strategy?" would be asking "What is our second vendor for office strategy?". Of course, not without some serious kicking and screaming and "Total cost of ownership" studies funded by MSFT. But when the corporate pendulum swings, it swings inexorably and usually it will go well past what is reasonable reach the other irrational extreme, corporations investing so much on "second vendor" strategy that the saving don't justify the investment. But that won't deter these suits, It never has.

    • by Archtech (159117)
      'Many Americans would go, "The damned Europeans, the gall they have punishing a Red White an Blue company.."'

      The difference this time is that the EU is not some puny little nation that the USA can lean on until it gives way - or else launch an invasion and remove the obstructive government and justice system. Of course the USA could threaten to nuke Brussels, but I don't think that would look too good...

      As for $690 million being chump change to MS, the solution is obvious. Apply a relative, rather than abso
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MathFox (686808)
        The EU is punishing a company for violation of EU competition laws. Most of the time European companies, but this time it is an US company. (Isn't that company under US court overview for some actions?)
        The problem is that EU competition law has some restrictions on the size of the fine, it used to be 10% of revenue maximum at the time MS was fined... currently the maximum fine is 25% of revenue. However, it is not common in Europe to go for the maximum punishment on the first offence. While the 500 million
    • No customer would buy a Samsung TV that can play only Samsung DVD player. But why these corporations don't demand such compatibility?

      Doesn't make sense to me. I'm using Firefox on Windows. I use WinSCP. I use other free and open source tools on a Microsoft platform. I could be using OpenOffice, but I prefer Office 2003.

      At a former employer, I worked on authenticating Linux boxes to a Win2k3 domain

      So pray tell, how does your analogy work?
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by DaveV1.0 (203135)
      Wow. You obviously hate America and Americans. Why don't you just stop using American products all together, mmmkay.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Once illegal abuse has been removed and competitors are
    free to compete on the merits, the logical consequence of that
    would be to expect Microsoft's market share to fall," spokesman
    Jonathan Todd said.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUKL1720058720070917?rpc=44 [reuters.com]

    I'm no big fan of Microsoft but the statements made by the EU spokes-people are more wishful thinking than reality. Even with "fair" competition Microsoft will still dominate due to the strong network effect inherent in operating systems use
  • by N3wsByt3 (758224) <Newsbyte&freenethelp,org> on Monday September 17, 2007 @07:52AM (#20634893) Homepage Journal
    While some may portray it as being an EU versus USA thing, it's actually much broader then that. To be sure; that sentiment *IS* there, and it certainly has played a role, especially concerning the popular support (the general EU IT-populace). It's doubtful however that the judges let themselves be swept away by any anti-americanism, however.

    I think it's as much a 'global corporation which tries to screw you over'-sentiment than anything else, and that's why a lot of open source people (also in the USA) are rejoicing. But... that sentiment played little to no role in the ruling neither.

    Basically, it's quite simple: they went against EU law and were dragging their feet to comply. No judge likes THAT.

    Personally, I think they deserve a much higher penalty. The EU commision is way to soft on them - actually softer then on big EU corporations they tried to deal with in the past. And also, the 'provide an XP without the mediaplayer'-thing was outright stupid. *Everyone* with half a brain could see this would have no effect. First of all, it's too limited in scope: what about win-OSses other than XP, what about all those other applications other then the media player? Is the EU going to fight a 10 year struggle over every OS and application that comes along and has the same issues as was now decided on?

    And apart from that: it's just suilly. Nobody is going to buy XP without mediaplayer if, for the same price, one can get one *with* it. By now, this obvious deduction has been proven right. No, what they should do is making it obliged that *every* OS MS makes gives the oportunity to install (or not) any application that comes with it (browser, media player, virusscanner, etc.). That way, you let consumers decide, and you give the opportunity to choose other applications instead of the windows-included-ones.

    Such a ruling would have made better sense, coppled with opening up their code for compatibility and an even huger fine would make it clear to MS that no corporation is above the law, not even a giant USA one with lots of money and lawyers.
  • Personally I think this latest verdict will do little to nothing in the real word, and most of its value lies in the precedent it sets. Microsoft is a huge company, with deep pockets, good lawyers and used to dealing with lawsuits. If they get hammered, get fined, appeal, and lose again, then any company is subject to the same if they break anti-competitive rules. It also re-affirms that EU courts at least have the power to kick ass if need be. For all that, this verdict is very significant.

    Other than

  • by Phil Hands (2365) on Monday September 17, 2007 @08:01AM (#20634993) Homepage
    Sadly, and as one would expect, this all comes too late to make any difference to MediaPlayer's market share.

    Perhaps the obligation to publish interfaces will bear fruit, but only if MS get appropriately punished in a timely manner when what they initially publish turns out to bear no relation to what is actually in 'doze, or does relate to it, but doesn't actually contain sufficient information to get the job done.

    In the mean time, the BBC have handed control of their on-line content over to MS in the form of the BBC iPlayer, which relies on MS DRM. By the time that the EU notices that, they'll have killed off the currently vibrant set-top box market, and the bulk of them will be running some form of WinCE. At least that's the danger, which people a need to get excited about now [defectivebydesign.org] if it's not to come to pass.
  • ...couldn't M$ simply price a version of windows without the media player higher than the version with it?

    This seems like a typical tactic they would employ to maintain their dominance and squeeze out competition.
    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)
      The problem MS has is that it claimed in U.S. court and in front of Congress that it could not remove WMP or IE from Windows because they were so tightly integrated.

      If it complies with the EU, it could be charged with perjury here in the U.S. and it could also have some interesting effects as it might cause a new browser lawsuit.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SEMW (967629)

        The problem MS has is that it claimed in U.S. court and in front of Congress that it could not remove WMP or IE from Windows because they were so tightly integrated. If it complies with the EU, it could be charged with perjury here in the U.S. and it could also have some interesting effects as it might cause a new browser lawsuit.

        No. Two different things. The US suit was about IE, not WMP; IE was what Microsoft claimed was too tightly integrated into the OS. The EU suit was the one that was (among other things) about WMP, and MS *did* make an edition of Windows without WMP in back in 2004. (It was sold for the same price as regular Windows, and IIRC, it sold something like seven copies in total worldwide. Go figure.)

  • Does this mean that Microsoft has to let free software use its network protocols and data formats?
    Or can Microsoft continue with the status quo and lock free software out? (i.e. the "Microsoft Communications Protocol Program" which is great if you are IBM wanting to make your mainframes talk to the Windows machines in the network but not so great if you are Samba wanting to make a solution that lets you replace a Windows active directory server with a linux machine)
  • by wonkavader (605434) on Monday September 17, 2007 @08:34AM (#20635347)
    If the EU is going to impose sanctions on Microsoft like this, and we are not, then this means that there is essentially a $690 million trade restriction on Microsoft. For Microsoft to behave the same way in the EU that it behaves here, they need to pay a fee of $690 million.

    That smacks of protectionism, and we have to retaliate.

    Let's charge Microsoft $690 million to behave that way in the US.
    • by MrMr (219533)
      I guess Microsoft has already paid roughly the same amount in bribes^H^H^H^H^H^H campaign donations to get the penalty dropped in the US.
  • 600 million euros is a good start, but there's a better solution if the EC wants to solve the MS monopoly (and yes, i know that the decision equires documented protocols).

    It's simple; the EC should require that a certain (large) percentage of government computers should run alternate OSes. Microsoft shall be required to supply all docs needed for vendors to create interoperability. The power of the government purchasing vastly exceeds the power of fines.
  • This reminds me of when the SNPP is fined for safety violations and Mr. Burns pays the $3 million out of his pocket. "And I'll take that statue of Justice out front too."

    Just the price of doing business as a latter-day robber baron. This might affect MS's bottom-line in a non-trivial way, but it won't affect their anti-competitive behavior or ill-gained market dominance. The saddest thing is that MS is clearly afraid to compete on merit. I guess they don't believe their products are superior either.

    11 f
  • Sign of pragmatism? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mattr (78516) <mattr&telebody,com> on Monday September 17, 2007 @08:55AM (#20635603) Homepage Journal
    FWIW, in Yahoo's "Maboo" Japanese Internet cafe chain yesterday I noted they stopped including MS Office and instead their computers all feature OpenOffice.org icons for the OOo apps prominently on the desktop with a big circle around them. This from probably the No. 1 or 2 hugest pro-MS country in the world. Maboo is cheap among Internet cafes, although a more upscale and expensive chain (aprecio) uses MS. It is a dollars per hour difference.
  • by ardor (673957) on Monday September 17, 2007 @09:31AM (#20636089)
    I feel like a million chairs cried out then were silenced...

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