EU fines Microsoft record $611.8 million; orders Media Player stripped from Windows within 90 days

“U.S. software giant Microsoft was on Wednesday slapped with a record fine for violating European Union antitrust law and ordered to take immediate steps to stop crushing software rivals. The EU executive said Microsoft must act within four months to change the way it does business in Europe ‘because the illegal behavior is still going on,'” David Lawsky reports for Reuters.

“The European Commission — the enforcer of EU competition law — levied a record 497.2 million euros ($611.8 million) fine, ordered the unbundling of Windows Media Player within 90 days and required that ‘complete and accurate’ information be given to rival makers of computer servers within 120 days,” Lawsky reports. “The Commission characterised Windows, which runs on more than 95 percent of all personal computers, as a ‘near monopoly.'”

“The Commission said its remedy ‘does not mean that consumers will obtain PCs and operating systems without media players. Most consumers purchase a PC from a PC manufacturer which already has put together on their behalf a bundle of an operating system and a media player.’ The Commission ruled that Microsoft bundled its own audiovisual player to damage such rivals as RealNetworks RealPlayer and Apple Computer Quicktime,” Lawsky reports. “A U.S. appeals court ruled unanimously in a final 2001 decision that Microsoft broke antitrust rule, but critics say the remedies there failed to encourage vigorous competition.”

Full article here.

Related MacDailyNews article:
Mac users should not buy Microsoft software – May 16, 2003

17 Comments

  1. Nice, but M$ will likely never have to face the full sanctions outlined in this ruling and any penalty won’t be enforced for several years, so nobody should get too excited. Here’s a direct quote from the AP story…

    “Microsoft has just over two months to file its promised appeal. It also is expected to ask the EU’s Court of First Instance to suspend the order during the appeal process, which could take years.”

  2. I wish they really did have to remove the media player in 90 days like it says. There is no way they could recode it fast enough to make up for the hole left. Windoze would probably work wockier than it does already. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  3. The dependence Apple has on MS Office, and the (almost certain) readiness of MS to discontinue Mac development of it if Apple were to launch a directly competing productivity suite (something more beefed up than Apple Works), is the most glaring harm done and felt every day to the Mac community in my opinion. Is there any prospect that the EU monitor could be enlisted to take a look at this issue? Force MS to disclose to Apple all necessary info to ensure seamless exchange of documents?

  4. About those two versions of Windows. I hope the EU was smart enough to stipulate two WORKING versions of Windows!

    Does anyone remember way back when the US ordered M$ to do two versions of Windows? One with EI and one with out? They came back with a version of Windows with no IE that did not work and said see…we can not do a versoin without IE, the OS just will not work without builtin browser support. And they got away with it!

  5. Also, how about a version of Windows without IE!!!!

    And I do not mean just hidden. I mean totally gone gone gone, or at the least, not bolted on, but a seperate app like other browsers and other OS’s so you can actually take its folder, put it in the trash…er..recycling thing…and flush…and never see it again…or uninstall or whatever you have to do on a PC to delete an app.

    The only thing I do not get about the EU investigation is how they skipped M$ dumping (or bundling if you like) IE for free to kill off all competition.

    A Media Player free Windows is good, an IE free Windows would be even better.

  6. johnny…

    you gotta be joking.. hehe.. haven’t you seen longhorn, they want everyone of those ‘programs’ to be integrated into the operating system as a ‘feature’.. this is their idea of innovation..

    somewhere along the line, someone got the idea that, akin to the internet’s flexibility (oh yeha, that’s where the got the idea, from hypercard) any window should quickly be able to change functions..

    if you’re typing in word you can just.. open a new tab and surf the web, or load up excel … wow.. why are you not celebrating.. what the hell functionality does this have..? uhm.. typical MS.. they do it because they figure people will perceive it as PROGRESS. you just know thurrott will play along..

    anyway.. anyone who’s seen images of longhorn and remembers MS talking about no more downloadable versions of IE to be made, they will be integrated into the OS from now on..

  7. YAWN. Apparently if M$ can secure a suspension to the order from the Court of First Instance while the appeals process carries out (which I can guarantee you they will), it’s anticipated this won’t be settled until perhaps 2009. This ruling is nothing more than ceremonial, it won’t have any real impact on anything in the near future at all.

  8. M$ is already saying that ripping out WMP will break some functionality in the OS. More specifically, it will effect features used by computer newbies and the blind…making it sound like the EU is out to screw over the blind! Shheeshh!

    Oh, and OM is right, M$ is looking for a suspension of the order, so they can just keep doing the same old same old while this gets worked out over the 5 years, by which time they may actually have Longhorn out, and they can say…but all of this is moot and drag it out longer…all the time doing business as usual. I hope the people at the EU’s Court of First Instance sees this classic M$ ploy for what it is.

  9. MS can apply for a stay, but the court is not obliged to grant one. If the court views the stay will make the current case obsolete by the conclusion of the appeal, they can reject that. (Disclaimer: IANAL)

    EU has shown that it has brass balls. Now, let see if Monti is master at crafting the case tight enough to withstands a 800 lb dancing monkey.

  10. 27 years of getting away with behaving this way, why should it change now?

    Because BG3, Ballmer, or even Robert Scoble, say it is? The evidence suggests otherwise.

    The MS crew don’t understand that you can’t pro-actively antagonise your fellow citizens -and the law- then complain about how everyone is out to get you. Maybe we see it as you attacking us.

    I would guess that most folks that are interested in ‘personal computers’, see Bill’s ‘love’ for us as being forced.

    Anyway, MS – like BG3 – is a ‘fixed’ personality. And tho’ change is the only constant, I think MS will doggedly stick to its fixed way even tho’ they clearly see that it ensures their own doom. It’s in their nature.

  11. Unfortunately IANAA (I am not an actor) either, so no. But why play a lawyer on TV when you can play one on MDN. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

    [But, then again, being able to act is not required to be on TV… hmmm!]

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