Bloomberg: Microsoft may get more scrutiny after EU antitrust probe

“Microsoft Corp.’s failure to settle a five-year European Union antitrust case may set a precedent for deeper regulatory scrutiny of the company’s software development plans for everything from handheld computers to mobile phones,” Bloomberg reports.

Bloomberg reports., “‘There is a fundamental conflict that may not be solvable,’ said Mark Schechter, a Washington antitrust lawyer who negotiated a settlement with Microsoft as a Justice Department attorney in 1994 and who’s now with Howrey, Simon, Arnold & White. The company’s ‘business model is built on bundling new applications into their software. They’re probably very nervous about the notion that there will be ongoing regulatory oversight.'”

“The EU accuses Microsoft of abusing the near monopoly of its personal computer operating system, which powers about 95 percent of PCs, to stifle competition in markets for servers and music and video software. Talks between European Competition Commissioner Mario Monti and Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer broke off yesterday over how to address concerns in related probes,” Bloomberg reports. “Monti is telling Microsoft ‘in light of the past conduct, it is appropriate for us to fence you in,’ said Ernest Gellhorn, who teaches antitrust law at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia. ‘You did it on the browser; you did it on the Media Player and the servers. The next thing you are going to do is whatever next comes up, which appears to be video.'”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “You did it on the browser; you did it on the Media Player and the servers. The next thing you are going to do is whatever next comes up, which appears to be video.” Amen. Nice to see the truth in print. Go EU.

22 Comments

  1. ‘You did it on the browser; you did it on the Media Player and the servers. The next thing you are going to do is whatever next comes up, which appears to be video.’

    And when Microsoft denied it, Monti played the video of Balmer monkey-dancing and commented that Balmer needed to be fenced in.

  2. This whole EU probe actually says a lot about the
    ineffectiveness of the justice system in the U.S.

    The Department of Justice is so weak that Microsoft was able to get away from it last time.

  3. Mac Man – whoa cowboy – you’re distorting the facts on this one. Yes, Clinton’s Justice Department prosecuted the case against M$ and won in court; however, during the penalty phase of the appeal the BUSH appointed Justice Department agreed to the current slap-on-wrist settlement instead of using all of the advantage gained by Clinton’s JD’s years of hard work. So it was really the big-business-lovin’ republicans who dropped the proverbial ball.

  4. joel, be careful about falling into the typical stereotypes of the parties, they really don’t hold up well. the democrats cater to big business almost as much as the republicans. maybe more so if you count the unions, which, in a sense, are just big businesses.

  5. No kidding. Mac Mac needs to google up some historical facts. It was during Clinton’s Era when Microsoft got nailed and was ordered to be broken up. MS appealed and during that period, Bush took office and the DoJ patted MS on their behind and said “Go and sin no more”. MS was even allowed to keep IE as part as the OS. Have you ever heard a thief allowed to go and keep the loots? Bush et al. are known for their distaste of anti-monopolistic laws.

    Americans should not complain about this. When they failed to clean up their mess, others will gladly do it for them while collecting a big fine. Consider this: if MS were forced to play nice and to pay back for their wrongdoings, would EU have a turn to go after MS?

  6. Look at the underlying reasons for the Bush Admin’s decision vis a vis MS. Many economists believe that the dotcom bubble was burst specifically because of the Clinton Admin’s meddling. We were in a recession as Bush came into office and you’re not going to find many administrations who would be eager to make a recession a depression by destroying the biggest software manufacturer in the world.

    I despise Microsoft as much as the next Mac user but I am not so naive to think that we can just eliminate the influence of MS from the planet. These things take time. The Justice Dept. and the EU should not look the other way but neither should they get greedy in going after MS only to have the IT sector in our country take a huge hit.

    B

  7. I disagree with your statement. Dot com bubble burst because people were infatuated with technology and “the new economy”, completely missing the point of doing business: making profit. Investors poured billions of dollars into these ventures without having a clue what the battle plan was like (except having .com at the end of the company names). For example, reel.com (I like using it as an example) was an excellent company selling cheap DVDs. They even had good customer service. They let you use pricematching and a coupon on the same transaction. They lost lots of money trying to get the consumer base. But even a non-economist like me knew the business model was not sustainable. Online, the next store is just a click away. Unlike brick and mortar stores where you may just pick up something because you are too lazy to drive the the next store, you do nothing but moving your finger.

    No, dot com burst was not because of Clinton’s Administration. It would have happened in any administration, even business-friendliest one. Investors just don’t like losing money for years.

  8. We can trade blame between the dems and reps, the point is we as voters needed to pressure our govt to continue prosecuting companies with bad ethics. Also who is capable of replacing Bush? Kerry? Please, hes lying about most of the things he preaches about. From the “atrocities” he witnessed in Vietnam in his what 7 months? Not sure about anyone else, but I take a cue from the veterans who picket Kerry, theres a good reason they do. What about his criticizing Bush about not giving troops enough body armor when he himself voted against arms bills that would have given troops that body armor.

  9. Sorry to turn this into a political debate. I think that many non-Americans care not about party affiliations. It is the policy that matters. After all, the US had great Republican presidents before. However, many non-Americans view the current state of politics in the US with distaste since not only is everything weigh down against any opposition to the current government, some of the policies are clearly out of whack wheteher it is in environment, budgetary, foreign policy, security etc. issues. Do you care who has to pay for the debt in the future (if you have a kid, you should)? Do you care what environmental destruction lead to (if you have a kid, you should)? Do you care if you can retire (if you plan to someday, you should)? Etc. etc.

    What you say though is the trouble with 2 party system (OK, you have other parties, but they are too small to have any influence). However, Americans will do well to abandon their rigidity to party affiliation. Some Americans I know are so attached to their party that they prefer to have a bad president from their party to a good one from the other. It makes no sense. Being less dogmatic can help you see the big picture better.

    I used to like the US very much, but I do have a bit of reservations now to see how people who disagree with the administration are automatically called traitors regardless of how stupid the policy is and to see the administration behaviors and hypocrisy . Just a 2 cent from an outsider who has no stake at American politics.

  10. Beeblebrox, calling Microsoft the biggest software manufacturer in the world is an insult to software makers everywhere. That crap they turn out should be called virus bait not software. It’s a good thing the majority of the users of their wonderful products, the world over, get them virtually free with their new computer or steal them from work or friends or pay black marketers pennies on the dollar for them. The full price suckers really get hosed.

  11. They should revisit some of the cases against MS here, particularly that one about the “perpetual license” that Apple allegedly gave to Microsoft for window-based GUI elements. I think that judge needs to have his head examined. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

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