Microsoft dealt decisive EU antitrust defeat

“Microsoft suffered a decisive antitrust defeat in Europe on Monday, sending its shares down 2 percent in pre-market trade,; David Lawsky and Michele Sinner report for Reuters.

MacDailyNews Take: Lawsky and Sinner report on Microsoft. How apropos.

Lawsky and Sinner continue, “A European Union court backed a European Commission ruling that Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, illegally abused its market power to crush competitors. Europe’s top competition regulator said the ruling could lead to a ‘significant drop’ in Microsoft’s 95 percent market share.”

Lawsky and Sinner report, “‘Its clearly a major defeat for Microsoft. There is no doubt it will spur the Commission on to regulate Microsoft much more significantly,’ said Chris Bright, a British competition lawyer. ‘They will find that future innovation by Microsoft will be hampered quite significantly.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Hamper what? Microsoft innovation is an oxymoron.

Lawsky and Sinner continue, “The court upheld a record 497 million euro ($689.9 million) fine imposed on the company as part of the original decision… More importantly, it endorsed Commission sanctions against Microsoft’s tying together of software and refusal to give rival makers of office servers information to enable their products to work smoothly with Windows.”

“Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith was downbeat in speaking to reporters at the courtroom, promising the company would obey the ruling in full. He said there was no decision yet on whether to appeal to the European Court of Justice,” Lawsky and Sinner report.

“Since the original decision, the Commission has fined Microsoft a further 280.5 million euros, saying it had failed to comply with the interoperability sanction. The EU regulator is considering a further fine for non-compliance,” Lawsky and Sinner report.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “The Dude” and “RadDoc” for the heads up.]

34 Comments

  1. This is just “Euro power” speaking here, they need to find some way to get back the billions they foolishly gambled on Microsoft when they are perfectly able to develop their own operating system.

    You see they could have effectively replaced M$ in their marketplace with their own OS, but didn’t because they still want the US as friends, as we them.

    So they come up with these “abuses” to get the money back as there is a major imbalance.

    Think about it, there isn’t really a alternative company backed alternative to US operating system companies, it’s Apple or Microsoft. Both US companies.

    So they are spooked. Their computers too. Microsoft just got exposed doing a stealth update to Windows. So it’s obvious there is a backdoor. Apple also has one too with EFI based Mac’s.

    But then again the Europeans are our good friends and we them. They just want to be friends and not OS slaves to Uncle Sam’s spies in the machine.

    If Microsoft software was as good as Apples, with company ethics of Google, perhaps there wouldn’t be any trouble.

  2. “must share code”

    Code!? Code!? We don’t need no stinkin’ code!

    Especially not a stinking pile of crap code from MS.

    However, this is good for customers in that we will now have more software that runs well with, and can compensate with, that stinkin’ pile of crap software from MS.

  3. Ok… sanity and reality check folks!

    Microsoft will just file all of it previous “business” practices as protected IP and then there is no way the courts will jump on them. Sorry, IP rights work like that. Go read the rules at wipo.org if you are really interested.

    Also:
    FFII PRESS RELEASE — [ Europe / Economy / Innovation ]
    Microsoft will trump EU competition ruling with patents

    Brussels, 17 September 2007 — The Foundation for a Free Information
    Infrastructure (FFII) says that Microsoft was expecting the 17
    September verdict of the EU’s anti-trust case, and will exploit software patents
    to keep its monopoly grip on the global IT market.

    FFII president Pieter Hintjens explains, “The decision seems positive
    but it is five years out of date. During that time, Microsoft has
    lobbied for software patents in Europe and bought patents on many
    trivial concepts. It has claimed patent violations against Linux, put
    patent timebombs into its formats and interfaces, and turned fear of
    patents into a core part of its business strategy. It will now open its
    formats, because that lets it extend its software patent franchise even
    further.”

    Microsoft recently published its MCPP (Microsoft Communications Protocol
    Program) patent licence which requires competitors to pay royalties for
    each copy of software distributed. For example, a free software project
    making a print server would have to pay USD$8 to Microsoft for each copy
    downloaded.

    “The largest monopolist in history has faced down the largest economy
    in history,” says Benjamin Henrion of the FFII’s Brussels Office.
    “Microsoft will appeal, and the fines if ever paid are just a month or
    two of profits. Meanwhile Microsoft now has the time to crush its only
    real competition, the free and open source economy. We regret that the
    EU Commission and ECJ are blind to the real threat of software patents,
    while Microsoft cleverly exploits Europe’s own patent system against EU
    businesses. This is a defeat for Europe’s anti-trust, a defeat for the
    global economy, and I’m sure they’re popping the champagne in Redmond.”

    About the FFII

    The FFII is a not-for-profit association active in over thirty
    countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the
    public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, open standards.
    More than 850 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have
    entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions
    concerning exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data
    processing.

    need I say more?

  4. Microsoft can afford to drag this out until someone gets appointed or elected that is more favorable to them. That strategy worked well for them in the U.S.

    Besides any fines less than 1 Billion dollars is nothing to Microsoft.

  5. Yes, it’s business and playing hardball is part of the game. I’m getting a little put off at Apple playing hardball: iTunes > artists must provide exclusives or they won’t get listed in ‘featured’ sections of the iTunes store. The reputed ‘divide and conquer’ strategy in Europe with mobile carriers. Win-win is good with partners. If Apple is the only winner there’s going to be a lot of business people with long memories of how they got screwed over. Hey, i LOVE Apple but it’s starting to feel a little Microsoft (without the illegal stuff).

  6. The fine is just part of the cost of doing business for Microsoft. How many “settlements” has it reached with the likes of Stac, Caldera, Sun, Apple, et. al. for hundreds of millions of dollars – more than a billion in a few cases – yet Microsoft keeps on its chosen path.

    The more damaging solution would to encourage the move to alternative platforms like Mac, Linux, Solaris, etc. That’s difficult, of course, because the enforcement arm is independent of the procurement arm. I always found it ironic that while the US Justice Department was pursuing Microsoft in court, it was mandating that all new desktop computers run Windows and Office.

  7. Not good.There’s no chance that some EU bureaucrat will improve the average user’s computer experience. I want to beat M$ as much as anyone, but I want Apple (and others) to do it fair and square–by consumer choice–not because some government agent is holding back M$.

  8. I’m not so sure that any government can really do anything to significantly set MS back – and ultimately it isn’t any governments fault, and it’s not Apple’s fault, it’s our fault for buying into this stuff in the first place. Even with all of this reality checking happening it’s amazing that people, and at the corporate level that means IT managers, still insist on building and reinforcing their infrastructures with MS products. If anyone really wants to do something about MS then just stop buying and implementing it – just stop – now – not next year – now.

  9. Now the europeans have to do Clinton’s work, yet again.
    Maybe if Hilary wasn’t sitting on Walmart’s board of directors before Bill ran for President, we wouldn’t to deal with that nuisance either.

    Just my $0.02

  10. It’s our EU way of saying we just hate most American stupido’s…just take your shit and go away, you mostly have no style, no history and lately it seems you have almost no money left hahahaha

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