European Union to fine Microsoft for abuses; curbs on media software could help Apple QuickTime, oth

“The European Commission said on Wednesday it intended to fine Microsoft for what it called continuing abuses of its dominant market position and force it to change the way it distributes its Media Player software,” Reuters reports. “In its strongest statement yet in its four-year antitrust probe against the world’s largest software company, the EU also said it could order Microsoft to open up the code for its computer server software to outside companies.”

“[The EU] accused Microsoft of leveraging its dominant position in media players, the software that plays movies and video on computers, and in low-end servers, which manage everything from Web sites to e-mail systems,” Reuters reports. “The EU executive said it was giving Microsoft a final chance to comment before it orders it to share crucial server software codes with competitors such as Sun Microsystems and Oracle and forces changes to the way it offers its media player, to the likely benefit of Real Networks and Apple.”

Reuters reports, “The commission said Microsoft would have two alternatives to facilitate fairer competition in media players, which run music and video on computers. It could either untie Windows Media Player from its widely used Windows operating system by being required to offer a version of Windows without Media Player, or it could agree to include competing media players with Windows.”

Full article here.


  1. I hope the EU sticks it to Microsoft. At least this time some justice will be served since our own US Government and its justice system couldn’t even give Microsoft a half decent slap on the wrist!

  2. It’s strange to see the EU doing what the US would not do. The old Clinton-era AG was more interested in keeping her boss out of jail than doing her job. By the time the Bush team came to DC, it was all over except the formalities.

  3. For the sake of being accurate….Please do not refer to the judicial system of the USA as a “justice system”. What we have is a “Legal System” and nothing more.

    There is a difference.

    In our system, we get what is legal………justice has nothing to do with it.

  4. What are you talking about NoPC Zone? Did you completely forget that the Clinton Justice Department hammered Microsoft in court? Even after the appeals court vacated the ruling there was still a lot there – and what happened? A slap on the wrist by Bush. Punishment? Whats that?

    They should have immediately gone back and started a new case – a lot had happened since Internet Explorer versus Netscape. Microsoft is anticompetitive in almost every area of their business – everything is tied to Windows!

  5. The Appeals Court overturned the penalties that had been imposed but agreed with some of the findings in the case, most notably that Microsoft was a monopoly and had been abusing its monopoly status.

  6. Tony is correct that the Justice Dept of the Clinton Administration was much more aggressive in pursuing legal remedies from Microsoft and in trying to correct the lack of competition in the free market as a result of Microsoft’s illegal monopolistic practices. It is the Bush Administration which has been very soft on Microsoft and which apparently isn’t the least bit concerned about the implications of a lack of competition in the software/technology industry.

  7. You dumbasses are clueless.

    First off, here’s another case where you poles have turned this into a democrat/republican bashing for no reason whatsoever.

    Now, being aggressive in bringing up charges does not mean you are being aggressive in actually punishing them. Bringing up charges is the first step, but getting as solid conviction is quite another. Neither administration was out to really pummel MS. They wanted to appear as if they were doing something because it was obvious MS was a large monopoly, but nobody really intended to do much about it.

    Stop making your biased political claims and stick to the story folks.

  8. Even if nothing much comes of this, MS is now skating on thin ice with the public anyway. People are simply growing tired of whole drama and expense of Windows and are looking at the alternatives.

    On a side note – the Democrat/Republican bashing, and in Australia ALP/Tory bashing – it’s quite obvious that money and power have almost thoroughly corrupted both sides of the political fence, it’s just that the Right tends not to see anything wrong with that, and the Centre (neither of our countries have major parties of the Left anymore) pretends it hasn’t happened to them. It’s all rather depressing 🙁

  9. Notwithstanding the juvenile name-calling by the user, “rageous,” I stand by my previous post. I find both US parties wanting in many respects — and I agree with Stuart that BOTH major parties have been corrupted by big money and that both have likewise been moving to the right — barely leaving a political center remaining (to say nothing of a viable true leftwing). This is not to say, however, that both parties are identical in their philosophies. One party is definitely more amenable to monopolies than the other. One is definitely more sympathetic to Microsoft and its efforts to co-opt open standards — both in respect to bringing charges and seeking remedies. And that party in the US is the Republicans, and in the UK and Australia the Tories.

    Both major parties fall short (for reasons already noted); but if you are fond of monopolistic practices, you should vote for the Republicans and Tories over their opponents.

  10. To rageous, I suppose you think you have caught me in an inconsistency, but not at all. I didn’t say YOU are a juvenile but rather only the act of name-calling is juvenile — which, incidentally, it is. In contrast, you call people in this forum “dumb asses” and “clueless.” So it’s hardly comparable.

    In any event, more to the point, let’s just all be thankful that Europe and the EU is standing up (at least to SOME degree) to the Microsoft juggernaut and in so doing might preserve or foster at least a small measure of diversity and real choice for the consumer.

  11. This is all rather pathetic. “Oh if only Bill Clinton had been able to pursue his jihad against M$, then Apple would have grown” Wrong.
    At worst, Microsoft would have had to pay larger penalties and Apple’s position would be unchanged giving the press a chance to say how Apple still couldn’t compete even after the governments actions against Microsoft.

  12. To gesegnet, do you want consumer choice or not? Whether Microsoft makes the best software is irrelevant. Do you want only ONE choice for an operating system? Do you want only one choice for an office productivity suite? Do you want one choice for audio/video streaming?

    If you have only one choice, then there is NO choice at all. Diversity is healthy for the technology industry and it is healthy for the consumer. Monopolies are destructive to choice and also to innovation. Who can build that better mousetrap today? What of the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of the future? Could anyone with new ideas and great intelligence and passion start a new computer company today? Forget it — impossible. Microsoft is too big and will snuff out all venture capital for any such start-up.

    Is this what you are defending?

    If Microsoft’s products are good enough to stand on their own merit and compete with offerings from other firms, why does Microsoft then use strong-arm monopolistic tactics? What is Microsoft afraid of? Why can it not just let its products compete fairly in the marketplace on their own merits — without resorting to coercive licensing policies with dealers and bundling its software only without giving other software the same opportunity and user access? Why is Microsoft so afraid of Java and MPEG and open web standards — unless it lacks faith in the ability of its products to succeed in a free and fair competition in the market?

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