EU to fine Microsoft $613.5 million; analysts, critics unimpressed with ‘traffic ticket’

“European Union states on Monday backed a proposal to fine Microsoft a record $613.5 million (497 million euros) for abusing its dominance of PC operating systems, an EU member state source said. ‘It is 497 (million euros),’ the source told Reuters. If the full European Commission backs the fine as expected on Wednesday, it would exceed the 462-million euro penalty imposed on Hoffman-La Roche AG in 2001 for being ringleader of a vitamin cartel,” Reuters reports.

“Horacio Gutierrez, a Microsoft associate general counsel for Europe, said in a statement that the fine was unjustified. ‘We believe it’s unprecedented and inappropriate for the Commission to impose a fine on a company’s U.S. operations when those operations are already regulated by the U.S. government and the conduct at issue has been permitted by both the Department of Justice and the U.S. courts,’ he said. Microsoft reiterated that it plans to appeal,” Reuters reports.

Reuters reports, “As well as the fine, Microsoft is to be ordered to offer a version of its Windows operating system without Windows Media Player and to encourage computer makers to provide other audiovisual software. It must also license information to make the servers of rivals more compatible with Windows desktop machines. The fine amounts to slightly more than one percent of Microsoft’s roughly $53 billion cash on hand and did not impress analysts and critics. ‘This is a traffic ticket for Microsoft,’ said Thomas Vinje of Clifford Chance, who represents Microsoft critics.”

Full article here.

28 Comments

  1. If they seriously believe in US justice, as they claim to in this response, then maybe they should lay off Lindows in the Benelux region. Can’t have it both ways.

  2. I guess the fine doesn’t mean much since they have 50B+ in the bank. Plus they’ll make that up in a quarter anyway.

    I’m more interested in getting them to sell an OS without all those extras embedded into it.

    No Windows Media player is interesting. Better yet, no Internet Explorer would be better. Might as well throw MSN off of there, too.

  3. *yawn* Make the fine 100 times greater and then you’ll get some attention. By setting the fine where it is, is just about on par with vitamin thing. This issue seems to be a bigger, wider, more influential problem, which demands a more appropriate (and signficantly greater) fine. This is not even a slap on the wrist. Although, we have to give the EU credit for doing something… unlike our local authorities.

  4. “Again, Europe shows it has no balls. What else is new?”

    Perhaps that in this case the USofA in analogue to that Mr Bean movie can be described as “It knows no fear, it knows no danger, it knows nothing?”.

    At least Brussels is doing something, laying some foundation for future use against MS as well. Ten times an increasing fine, say until Longhorn, is a lot of money, also for MS. There is a tiny sprinkle of hope at least…

  5. If you reckon Europe has no balls, then how feeble has America’s dealings with Microsoft been then ?

    They really showed Bill who was in charge.

    Bill was !

  6. Here you go….

    Three Apple engineers and three Microsoft engineers are traveling by train to a conference. At the station, the three Microsoft engineers each buy tickets and watch as the three Apple engineers buy only a single ticket.

    “How are three people going to travel on only one ticket?” asks a Microsoft engineer. “Watch and you’ll see,” answers the Apple engineer.

    They all board the train. The Microsoft engineers take their respective seats but all three Apple engineers cram into a rest room and close the door behind them. Shortly after the train has departed, the conductor comes around collecting tickets. He knocks on the rest room door and says, “Ticket, please.” The door opens just a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor takes it and moves on. The Microsoft engineers saw this and agreed it was quite a clever idea.

    So after the conference, the Microsoft engineers decide to copy the Apple engineers (as they always do) on the return trip and save some money. When they get to the station, they buy a single ticket for the return trip. To their astonishment, the Apple engineers don’t buy a ticket at all.

    “How are you going to travel without a ticket?” asks one perplexed Microsoft engineer. “Watch and you’ll see,” answers an Apple engineer.

    When they board the train the three Microsoft engineers cram into a rest room and the three Apple engineers cram into another one nearby. The train departs. Shortly afterward, one of the Apple engineers leaves his rest room and walks over to the rest room where the Microsoft employees are hiding. He knocks on the door and says, “Ticket, please…”

    This is a copy from http://www.macdevcenter.com/

  7. I wish the fine would have been bigger but at least it wasn’t only symbolic (over half a billion dollars is not symbolic). I wonder what they are going to use the cash for? I would be cool if it was used to promote M$ competitors in some way.

    I think the sans WMP version having to be made available is more important.

    Man, I also can’t believe M$ has the balls to wave the “But America says it’s OK flag”. They got away with murder in the US and its a crying shame.

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