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EU Fines for Microsoft Approved, Off the Record

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the whatever-that-means dept.

692

mattaw writes "The Register is carrying a report that all 25 member states of the EU have found Microsoft guilty of non-compliance, off the record. Microsoft is in line for a fine of $2.51 million per day backdated to December 15th 2004 for failing to meet the terms of the EU commission's ruling."

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One Word! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15658405)

Yes!

Re:One Word! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15658519)

And a Microsoft exec responds: "$1.4 billion, *yawn*. Do you take visa or should I pay with cash?"

good for the EU (0, Redundant)

Truekaiser (724672) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658407)

it's about time governments grew a spine and started to fight back against multi-national corporations.

Re:good for the EU (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15658414)

It's just too bad that the only one they ever seem to go after is Microsoft.

Re:good for the EU (4, Insightful)

Meor (711208) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658420)

If you think a goverment is anything more than a corporation with guns, you're fooling yourself.

so? (5, Insightful)

geekylinuxkid (831805) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658412)

It doesn't really mean all that much. Microsoft will do some kind of wheeling and dealing efforts to 1) lower the fine and 2) establish an even stronger marketshare in the EU such as giving away windows/office/etc to schools, businesses, etc. Sadly, in the end it all works out for redmond.

Re:so? (4, Insightful)

NevDull (170554) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658427)

Is there something that you'd prefer?

While I find some of Microsoft's business practices to be anticompetitive, handing over monies to governments isn't really going to do anything. Giving money to competitors won't help anything, since they won't learn to be competitive with handouts...

Honest question, not trolling... I'm wondering what they should really be doing, besides forcing Microsoft to stop doing business in member states as long as they remain noncompliant, perhaps.

-Nev

Re:so? (4, Insightful)

jkrise (535370) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658448)

Honest question, not trolling... I'm wondering what they should really be doing, besides forcing Microsoft to stop doing business in member states as long as they remain noncompliant, perhaps.

What's wrong with forcing non-compliant businesses from operating?

We should be wondering what Microsoft should really be doing, besides non-complying with anti-trust, anti-competitive laws, and stonewalling progress and crippling the competition. What'd be your honest answer to this question?

Re:so? (2, Insightful)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658465)

What's wrong with forcing non-compliant businesses from operating?
Microsoft owns what, 95+% of the global desktop OS market? How exactly do you shut down or prohibit a company from operating when they have that type of a market share? I'm not saying that something shouldn't be done, but you can't just say "Sorry, you can't do business here" when 95% of your PCs being used every day need them.

Re:so? (5, Insightful)

MrFlannel (762587) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658481)

Your current computers don't cease to exist (or run, on windows) when you tell them they are no longer allowed to do business.

It will simply force MS to rethink their compliance, or face a whole continent migrating to other operating systems.

Re:so? (2, Interesting)

jkrise (535370) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658494)

you can't just say "Sorry, you can't do business here" when 95% of your PCs being used every day need them.

I don't think that's what is being said. MS is only being fined for mis-conduct... they have not... so far at least, been told to get out of the EU.

Re:so? (4, Insightful)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658545)

Actually, they're being fined for not complying with actions they were directed to take to correct for their misconduct. You can argue that the non-compliance is itself misconduct, but it's not the original misconduct that had to do with their monopolistic behavior.

Re:so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15658597)

However it comes, I suppose the EU would be happy with the money... whether it's bcos of the MisConduct, or non-compliance of penalties imposed after a MisConduct or non-conformance to the schedule of prescribed penalties after a non-competitive miscoduct, or... oh, whatever! A billion dollars is still a million, million dollars!

Re:so? (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658521)

Existing Microsoft users won't suddenly be unable to use their OSes. Sure, they (probably) won't get support, but the problems wouldn't happen immediately, and solutions can be found pretty quickly once theirs an incentive (ie reason to do so).

Re:so? (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658522)

And that's probably why they levy fines instead of just taking away Microsoft's license to do business. The point of the fines is (ostensibly) not to collect cash, but to force them to change their ways so competitors have a more level playing field. In this case, I believe it's the market for media players in question, and Microsoft was supposed to separate out Windows Media Player. It may sound like a small thing, but with the rise of pay-to-play video on the web, content delivery could easily be one of the biggest markets on the Internet within just a few years.

Similarly, I thought splitting MS Office from MS Windows seemed reasonable. The point being, not to shut anything down, just to require Microsoft to expose their roadmap and APIs enough for other companies to get in the game. Yes, I can see why Microsoft would kick and scream and drag their feet on that. Having a lock on 95% of the market is pretty awesome, just look at their financial reports for the last 15 or so years in a row. But their dominance is not good for the market; not just for competitors, but for consumers (which in this case is mainly other businesses outside the computer industry).

Re:so? (5, Insightful)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658558)

No, the non-compliance wasn't about Windows Media Player so much as it was interoperability with other networking software.

MS's attempts at compliance were deemed inadequate even though they protested that it was "too hard" to comply to the degree that the EU wanted. We'll see if it was $1,000,000,000+ too hard.

This fine is more like a contempt of court charge, and doesn't let MS off the hook. They're still expected to comply.

Re:so? (4, Insightful)

gehrehmee (16338) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658536)

Strip MS of its copyright in the EU. Let people copy XP Pro & Office, hacked to work without keys & registration, as much as they like, with no legal ramifications, until an alternative platform is practical.

Re:so? (4, Insightful)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658556)

Oh wow that should be so obvious that I'm surprised no-one has thought of it before. I think we have all gotten into the mindset that copyright is totally owned by the companies that wrote it that we almost forgot that it is the government that decides to allow copyright. Without the government's support, copyright is meaningless!

It seems so obvious now!

Re:so? (4, Interesting)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658580)

"Microsoft owns what, 95+% of the global desktop OS market? How exactly do you shut down or prohibit a company from operating when they have that type of a market share?"

Easy. Refuse to honor their IP. All MS copyrights in europe become public domain, all patents are invalid. Done deal.

They don't need them (1)

ringe82 (733774) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658585)

It's not like Microsoft's OS in inreplacable. If the government really wanted to force them out of business, they could just make'em pay back all license fees in fines and spend those money on developing Free Software.

That'd be the Right Thing to create a Free Market.

Re:so? (1, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658496)

What's wrong with forcing non-compliant businesses from operating?

What's wrong with killing people who jaywalk?

I'm all in favor of Microsoft opening some of their interfaces, but let's face it -- there is NOTHING that Microsoft can do with their apps that a third party can't. It just requires the third party to write more software that looks like native stuff. Big deal.

I'm not going to cynically call this a cash grab on the EU's part (though, I think that plays a part), I think this is more about ignorant politicians being convinced by angry Microsoft haters to "do something -- ANYTHING" even if it means absolutely nothing.

Re:so? (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658538)

You appear to have good karma, so I'll assume you're not trolling...

What's wrong with killing people who jaywalk?

The EU isn't killing MS, merely fining them for mis-conduct. What's unfair about that? Would it be fair that the EU simply watched dumbfounded as if nothing happened?

I'm all in favor of Microsoft opening some of their interfaces, but let's face it -- there is NOTHING that Microsoft can do with their apps that a third party can't...

The fact that MS is a monopoly IMPLIES that they have to open up their protocols and interfaces to competition. This is a fact of law, no need to be so condescending about it.

Which third party can write a better client for MS Exchange than the bloated buggy Outlook?
Which third party can write into NTFS in a reliable manner?

Re:so? (4, Informative)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658554)

I'm all in favor of Microsoft opening some of their interfaces...

That's exactly the point. The EU told Microsoft to do so two years ago, and Microsoft failed to comply. What else should the EU do other than fine Microsoft ? Hold a gun to Bill's head until he's finished writing the documentation ? Put the company executives in jail ?

Re:so? (5, Informative)

asifyoucare (302582) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658563)

there is NOTHING that Microsoft can do with their apps that a third party can't

Where have you been? That is what it is all about. MS have deliberately prevented third parties from interoperating with Microsoft products in an attempt to leverage their monopoly. The EU insisted that ME clearly document interfaces, and MS failed to do so.

Re:so? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15658463)

I'm wondering what they should really be doing, besides forcing Microsoft to stop doing business in member states as long as they remain noncompliant, perhaps.

To my mind: enforcing their judgement. MS, along with most American corps basically get to play Cartman in real life. They break every moral, ethical and legal code but when it comes time to pay the piper, a few well placed bribes or a just suggestion that perhaps at some point in the future they might throw a few jobs into someone's constituency and they get off with a pat on the head and a lollipop.

The EU thing has been going on a really long time. I believe that even after they were found to be in violation, they continued with business as usual for over a year while the EU postured with a bunch of empty threats culminating in the "daily fine" threat. Since then, MS has been given ANOTHER eight months or so to get their house in order. If they had done so at any point during that time (eg: after continuing their predatory and arrogant behaviour for an additional two years AFTER being found guilty) they would have STILL gotten their lollipop.

I think that fines are the only stick you've got to use on a corporation. What else would you suggest: throw all the employees and shareholders in jail or just give them a lollipop and ask them to play nice?

Re:so? (4, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658466)

I'm wondering what they should really be doing, besides forcing Microsoft to stop doing business in member states as long as they remain noncompliant, perhaps.

Use the fine money to fund a public reverse-engineering project for all the APIs and communications protocols. Nullify any patents held by Microsoft which would prevent competitors from re-implimenting the OS and/or bundled software.

Re:so? (4, Insightful)

jkrise (535370) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658514)

Use the fine money to fund a public reverse-engineering project for all the APIs and communications protocols. Nullify any patents held by Microsoft which would prevent competitors from re-implimenting the OS and/or bundled software.

I thought the EU does not permit software patents, as on date. Any MS patents are null and void in the EU as it is.

Re:so? (5, Insightful)

Meltir (891449) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658483)

I'm wondering what they should really be doing, besides forcing Microsoft to stop doing business in member states as long as they remain noncompliant, perhaps.

And thats exactly what this is all about.

They cant really force anybody to stop using microsofts products, and they cant force microsoft to completly stop selling their products.

So they gave microsoft some time to prepare documentation that would be available to competitors. For a fee. With no recommendation to give it away, or how much to charge for it. And to this today - microsoft has not yet complied, and are still working on documentation for an OS that was written a couple of years ago.

Every developer worth their money has pre-project documentation, code documentation, end user documentation (for things such as api's and libraries). This has been a standard in the industry for decades. And - most of windows is documented in such a way if said libraries and api's were ever intended to be used by someone out of microsoft. And yet - the others werent, as i seems.

The inner workings of windows and their internall protocols are a mystery even to them.

Thats the only thing that could justify getting a 300 person team for over a year of time.

AND NOT COMPLETING THE TASK!

This only says about the quality of the code - or the obfuscation that they used to actually throw competitors off track.

I remember when the ruling became a very public thing over here at slashdot. Everyone agreed that it was the only thing that the EC could do, and that decision was just.

And now that the fines accumulated to a spectacular (even for microsoft this is a big bag of money which they will have to explain to their shareholders) 1 billion USD, everyone is beggining to feel sorry for them ?!


Sorry - as far as i know they didnt comply, had well over a years time and are still arguing about their case.

I have no sympathy for them. Not that i ever did - but feel free to point out the weeks spots in my understanding of this case.

Disclamer: i am a linux user.

Re:so? (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658567)

A billion here, a billion there . . . pretty soon it adds up to some big money!

jail time for execs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15658501)

Yes, it should be just as easy to get high level "corporate" people in jail as it is to get non corporate regular old folks in jail. YOU try telling some court "no" to this or that demand and stalling for time, you'll find youreself in the pokey within days, not years, days. Yet MS and other corporate fascist enterprises can get away with most anything and just pay fines, which their customers pay for anyway.

    I'd like to see top execs jailed, and shareholders lose all their investment money when stock is officially declared to be worthless, as in, no longer worth being sold, no value other than it's weight as a novelty item or scrap paper may be assigned to it, by court decree. Kill off crooked corporations, revoke their charters, make their stock worthless overnight.

  THEN maybe mostly clueless "investors" would wake up to the fact they they have an interest and DUTY in seeing the companies they "invest" in don't do criminal acts, and these various managers and owners of large cororations can't continually hide behind lawyers just because of their sheer economic size. And if that means the end of mutual funds because people can't be assed enough to do a little research into what they "invest" in-who the heck cares? really, whoi cares besides a handful of middleman stock skimmers? Make people take an active role in their investments, increase the risk potential substantially and you wil also see a more stable and more sane stockmarket.

  Bill Gates and Ballmer need to be in JAIL for what they did over the years. They are CROOKS, conmen, thieves, strong arm specialists, fraudsters, and etc. MS shouldn't be "on trial", named high level executives should be under investigation, there is no such thing as a living MS, named human beings made the decisions. Those that decide and give illegal orders to working stiff minions need to go to jail for criminal acts, no fine is necessary then other then court costs. Once a passle of jet setting fatcats start getting locked up we just might see some global corporate changes in how business is done. I say give companies the same "three strikes and you are out" treatment most regular humans get in the court system, commit three felonies, that's it, you can easily get a life sentence now. For corporations, same deal, three criminal convictions, it should be *automatic dissolution of charter*, nullification of stock worth, and jail sentences for the entire board of directors.

THAT is the only way to get corporate responsibility in todays greed based world, make humans ALWAYS respnsible for their actions, take away that totally insane "corporate personhood" status and the shield of near immunity from liability for actions. That system is just SO broken...chuck it out, it doesn't work, not worth fixing.

Re:so? (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658513)

Although I'm generally not a fan of "Robin Hood"-esque solutions, perhaps the way to go is to fine Microsoft, and use the money from the fines in order to develop a diverse range of competition to them and their products.

That is the ultimate goal -- a free market not dominated by a single entity -- so it would make sense to use the money provided by fining noncompliant corporations (MS or others) to finance things that move us closer to that goal.

I see a number of ways that could be accomplished with regards to OS software, that doesn't include just making handouts to other companies (which, I believe, ultimately makes them less competitive in the long run, since they become lazy and dependent on the handouts). You could use the money to acquire patents that could be used anticompetitively and give free use of them to those who agree not to use theirs aggressively (a la IBM), fund software research -- the output of which would be in the public domain, or give grants directly to individual developers working to make products which allow end-users to be less dependent on Microsoft (this one is tricky, and would require that they release the software under a suitable license, or perhaps public domain). And of course, there's always lots of user education to be done.

Obviously, it does very little good to simply fine Microsoft and then have the money be absorbed into the coffers of Brussels, Washington, or any of the EU regional governments. In order for the move to be anything but punitive (and it's orders of magnitude too small to have any effect purely as a 'stick' and not a 'carrot'), the money needs to be used in ways that weaken the monopoly's hold on the public, rather than simply reprimanding it and allowing the status quo to continue.

Re:so? (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658570)

Well it's a corporation. You can't jail it so you have to fine it. The only other option would be to put gates and ballmer in jail. A couple of years in the klink and they should probably be reformed. Even if they go to a country club prison it would be a real hardship for billionaires like them.

Re:so? (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658564)

Yes. In the end, IBM will win out because they will do some kind of wheeling and dealing efforts to 1) reduce the judgements against them 2) establish an even stronger marketshare in the US such as FUDing Ahmdal into the ground, etc. Sadly, in the end it all works out for Armonk.

So that's... (3, Informative)

CtrlPhreak (226872) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658419)

So roughly that's a year plus 7 months is ~575 days * 2.51 million, that's ONE BILLION DOLLARS! (1,443,250,000) Who let Dr. Evil run Europe?

Re:So that's... (1)

VE3MTM (635378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658428)

That may be a lot of money, but it's still better for Microsoft than losing the entire European market.

Re:So that's... (1, Insightful)

dwater (72834) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658502)

IMO, that's about as likely as Microsoft actually paying such a fine.

I mean, seriously, what's to stop Microsoft from just saying they aren't going to pay. Has the EU really got the balls to stop them trading (in EU)?

I, for one, don't think so. I wish they did, but...no. There'll be some big argument over the whole thing and they'll come to some 'compromise', just like they did in the US.

Re:So that's... (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658548)

How many people do you think there are -- actual key decisionmakers -- in the E.U. hierarchy that came up with this fine? I don't mean necessarily everyone that has a vote, I just mean the people that are really pulling the strings; people with political capital to spend on this issue.

I don't know how many there are, but I suspect there are few enough of them so that Microsoft could easily -- if the situation came down to it -- buy them all nice chateaus in the Alps and pull the rug out from under this whole business, and come out ahead, financially.

Everybody has a price. When we're talking about billions of dollars, I'd start to look seriously at the financies of anyone who has a sudden change of heart on this issue in the next few months.

Just remember: there are really no laws and no legal framework when you start dealing with multinational corporations -- they're akin to governments. There are just more or less adverse outcomes. Whatever is most profitable and least risky is what they will do. Laws are just statements of risk. Break one, and you might lose money, somehow -- but if the benefit from breaking it times the odds of getting caught is greater than the penalty times the odds, you go ahead and break it anyway.

Re:So that's... (4, Insightful)

jkrise (535370) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658573)

So roughly that's a year plus 7 months is ~575 days * 2.51 million, that's ONE BILLION DOLLARS! (1,443,250,000) Who let Dr. Evil run Europe?

1. Maybe the judges reckon that MS made much more than ONE BILLION DOLLARS with their anti-competitive practices...

2. Maybe they felt that the fine should be high enough to deter continued violation, but lower than MS's profits in the EU... thus MS would consider compliance the better policy?

3. Maybe the judges aren't so happy to let the Corporate Mr. Evil run unchecked in Europe?

hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15658421)

Gosh, it really sucks now that Bill is gone.

Thats A LOT of money (3, Informative)

bombboyer (948246) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658423)

As of July 5th, 2006: 567 days * 2.51 million per day = $1.423 BILLION Is there any way to avoid this fine?

Re:Thats A LOT of money (4, Insightful)

jmv (93421) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658432)

Yet, it's probably less money than they gained from their anti-competitive practices during that time.

Re:Thats A LOT of money (1)

iotaborg (167569) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658433)

Hi Bill!

Posting on slashdot for financial advice, wow, I never thought you'd do it. But I think if you bought enough chairs...

Re:Thats A LOT of money (1)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658484)

As of July 5th, 2006: 567 days * 2.51 million per day = $1.423 BILLION Is there any way to avoid this fine?

Have MS file for bankrupcy, and see it through?

Or is that the answer to "How do we cause the biggest party on /. ever?".

I'll have to think that over...

Yaz.

Re:Thats A LOT of money (1)

bombboyer (948246) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658504)

Curses! Beaten to the punch by seconds!

Re:Thats A LOT of money (1)

TwilightSentry (956837) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658529)

There was a way to avoid the fine, for over a year MS could have done SOMETHING (And by that, I don't mean making unreadable source avaliable under a no-compete NDA). MS just decided to gamble that the EU wouldn't have the guts to see the fine through, and it seems they've lost.

Legitimate question (1)

vain gloria (831093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658543)

As of July 5th, 2006: 567 days * 2.51 million per day = $1.423 BILLION Is there any way to avoid this fine?

Sure, MS could abide by local laws and not drag out a case where they know they're in the wrong.

Oh, unless you were asking if there was any way for them to to avoid it now?

Why Vista keeps getting delayed! (4, Funny)

jkrise (535370) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658426)

From TFA: "I can assure you that we are continuing to work day and night with our 300 dedicated engineers to create documentation which is complete and accurate to satisfy the European Commission."

No wonder then! If it takes 300 engineers, several nights and days to document the protocols of an obsolete OS..... we should be surprised if Vista ships before 2010!

darn (4, Funny)

TheKeeper (212278) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658430)

hmm, ~1.4 billion...
guess bill can only buy 2 small countrys this year,

Is it really fair? (4, Insightful)

zaydana (729943) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658435)

My first reaction was "w00t, MS is being fined > 1 billion". But, then I thought about it for a bit. Does even microsoft deserve that kind of ruling? They actually have made some changes, like the windows version without windows media player. And > 1 billion hardly seems to be a fair amount to charge for not documenting your software properly, even if you are a monopoly. It just somehow feels like theres something not right about it, even if it does give me the "eat that microsoft" feelings... call me strange if you want.

Re:Is it really fair? (3, Insightful)

tehwebguy (860335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658446)

not to mention, like anyone would even opt to buy the "special" versions they forced to make

Re:Is it really fair? (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658461)

1. The fine has to be big enough to sway the company receiving it. A billion dollar fine would be overkill for most companies, but MS isn't most companies. Consider that they made much more than this from the European Market in the meantime.

2. And also to be fair, from what I have seen, MS has been bobbing and weaving like an aging boxer to avoid most of the spirit of the rulings. The commission gave them, up to now, 1.5 years to comply. And the company has been dragging its feet in every direction. This didn't come out of the blue.

3. If you think this is harsh, consider that an American judge had ordered to split the company up completely.

BTW, I am not for the commission completely (as I am not pro-EU, the EU tries to get into every aspect of European life which I abhor) but MS doesn't have to do business in Europe. I don't know if this will finally pass but it just has the balls to do what the US Justice Department was too corrupt (from up top) to finish.

Re:Is it really fair? (1, Flamebait)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658593)

1. The fine has to be big enough to sway the company receiving it. A billion dollar fine would be overkill for most companies, but MS isn't most companies. Consider that they made much more than this from the European Market in the meantime.

Well, I guess parking and speeding tickets should be based on how much money you have, too. That's how some countries do it, but do you really want to get fined $30,000 for parking at a hydrant?

Re:Is it really fair? (1)

Mo6eB (832959) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658471)

They might be approaching it the same way, Alphonse Capone was jailed - you know there is something really immoral going on, but you either don't have enough evidence, or the law is moot about their crimes, or maybe even both; so you just get them for some other crime and fine them as much as you can. Maybe even pass a couple of new laws (though the EC hasn't done that here).
It is also entirely possible, that we Europeans are just greedy little bastards.

Re:Is it really fair? (1)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658590)

It is also entirely possible, that we Europeans are just greedy little bastards.

Greedy? I think it's not enough. This fine is so small it probably won't change a thing. Microsoft can happily go on doing business in Europe paying this fine every day, whilst ignoring the EU's demands and still making a fortune.

This is a nice (long awaited) first step towards encouraging interoperability between computers of all types across Europe. But do remember that this is only the first step and there is still a long way to go.

Re:Is it really fair? (3, Insightful)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658491)

They don't deserve it for bundling a media player with their OS, but they do deserve it for using their monopoly to push proprietary file formats and protocols (eg. Office file formats) so that it is extremely difficult for people to switch away.

Re:Is it really fair? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658569)

They don't deserve it for bundling a media player with their OS, but they do deserve it for using their monopoly to push proprietary file formats and protocols (eg. Office file formats) so that it is extremely difficult for people to switch away.

The media player is intended to create exactly the same lockin for media. After a few years, all legal media would come in a choice of MS DRM or nothing.

Re:Is it really fair? (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658555)

MS doesn't have to pay a cent. All they have to do is to document some specs and remove some software from the default install.

Simple really. I don't see why don't do it.

Well great (0, Troll)

Meor (711208) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658436)

Bill Gates donates billions of his personal money to chairity and the EU wants to take billions from the poor that would receive it in order to subsidize its 15% unemployment rate because it can't convince its people to work.

EU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15658437)

I'm not a fan of M$'s business tactics, but the fuggin EU stepping up and trying to get a billion dollar slice of the pie is ridiculous. I hope Microsoft doesnt pay any of that.. If anyones gonna try to gorge M$'s bank account let that be the US, so US citizens might reap some of the benefits..

Re:EU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15658589)

Why should the EU not fine Microsoft? Is it because they have no business preventing Microsoft from damaging member state economies? Is it because they should not attempt to reclaim tax revenue lost due to Microsoft trampling member state software companies via clearly unlawful business practice? Do you think that the EU should not fine MS because you are a US citizen and hey damnit that's like not fair dude we need that cash stateside so that Bill can give it to people with AIDS in India?

Why no comment? (4, Funny)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658439)

An EC spokesman was unwilling to comment.

Seconds earlier that night, said EC spokesman was was overheard in an Amsterdam cafe, "Dude! Can you believe it? $1.4 Billion. Pass that shit over here, some jackass American reporter is ringing my mobile."

Will this really make a difference? (0, Redundant)

detritus` (32392) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658441)

I know this is gonna burn me by saying so, but i honestly see this as a money grab more than anything else. Microsoft isnt going to change its business strategy anytime soon because of this. If they really cared about this fine they'd refuse to pay it and watch the uproar that would ensue when it became illegal to sell Windows in the EU. Do you really believe the majority would accept that they could not use the most popular OS in the world? The really sad part is that judgements like this are the reason windows sells for $300-400 instead of 50-100, as future judgements like this are part of their pricing model

Re:Will this really make a difference? (1)

remembertomorrow (959064) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658454)

Do you really believe the majority would accept that they could not use the most popular OS in the world?

Better order some Ubuntu cds for the EU.

https://shipit.ubuntu.com/ [ubuntu.com]

Re:Will this really make a difference? (0, Flamebait)

bombadier_beetle (871107) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658469)

Yes, but what about non-homosexuals, i.e., those of use who don't want to use that fucking Linux shit?

Re:Will this really make a difference? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15658509)

I see you're becoming more powerful again!

Re:Will this really make a difference? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15658459)

well, who told you that? they will sell it for 400$ anyway. ppl will buy it, as they have so far.
its just a matter of: where that money goes? EU or MS?
they can't (pray to god) get away with a 600$ OS.

Fine per day going forward as well (4, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658485)

I do think some aspects of what Microsoft does will have to change, the fine is not just backdated but also continues every day until Microsoft compiles. Yes Microsoft has a lot of money but that's a lot of money to bleed every year and shareholders will not like it at all.

I do not know what will change, but it's a situation that cannot stand - not to mention that if Microsoft simply coughts up the fine indefinatley it will be raised to an amount they cannot ignore as easily.

Re:Will this really make a difference? (4, Insightful)

geoff lane (93738) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658511)

MS is getting off cheap. The EU can currently fine a company 10% of their GLOBAL annual turnover. So a fine of only a billion or two is just a warning.

But, really, what can you say about a company who seems to be unable to produce _usable_ technical documentation for their headline product?

Re:Will this really make a difference? (2, Insightful)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658540)

If they really cared about this fine they'd refuse to pay it and watch the uproar that would ensue when it became illegal to sell Windows in the EU.

It will never happen. Even if (which I doubt as they'll at least try to kill eons with negotiations) Bill has to write the check (and keep writing them daily until the EU is satisfied) there is no way in hell that M$ will just let the EU default to linux or the various bsd's.

As for the price per day, ISTR seeing someplace that the fine was chosen to match the estimated sales per day within the EU. Can anyone deny/confirm that? If true, then I don't see it as excessive. Were I setting it, given the testimony thats been given ink that I've seen, I think I'd have chosen it to be a net loss per sale, of the price of the sale, or 2x the street price.

I'm with Linus in this: "If we change how microsoft does business, then we will have won".

As for the billions Bill has, I would wager that if he actually did business on the merits of his product, 2 things would have already happened. 1. Windows would be a hell of a lot more stable and secure than it historicly has been, and 2. He would have made even more money! Of course that would have had to happen 20 years ago in order to head linux off at the pass. I don't recall what his worth was then, but it surely would have been sufficient to survive the corporate direction change that would have required. One things for sure, M$ has enough in the bank to survive a rebirth in the business office, so I fail to see why the hint isn't being taken other than the corporate blinders are causing a total, identifiable by any optometrist, case of tunnel vision.

--
Cheers, Gene

Re:Will this really make a difference? (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658550)

Sure. It's all the EU's fault that Windows costs allot, because Microsoft can see the future and priced their products accordingly. Rather than just NOT DOING ILLEGAL SHIT. Uh-huh. That's because they're evil, right? They can see the future and they are evil. We should accept their illegality, because otherwise they will just up the cost of our crack.

Re:Will this really make a difference? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15658561)

"Microsoft isnt going to change its business strategy anytime soon because of this."

Probably not, but only if they earn more from screwing users than they lose in fines. The fines should probably be higher to make them comply.

"If they really cared about this fine they'd refuse to pay it and watch the uproar that would ensue when it became illegal to sell Windows in the EU."

Won't happen. What will happen is that MS will have their assets in EU appropriated. That could include "intellectual property", and I really don't think MS would want that to happen.

"The really sad part is that judgements like this are the reason windows sells for $300-400 instead of 50-100, as future judgements like this are part of their pricing model"

Learn some basic economy. MS prices their products as high as they can without losing profit. Their operating costs has nothing whatsoever to do with their prices.

Re:Will this really make a difference? (5, Insightful)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658571)

judgements like this are the reason windows sells for $300-400 instead of 50-100

Nope. I think you have it the wrong way round. The fact that Microsoft is an (illegally maintained) monopoly, is what *allows* them to sell an operating system for 300 - 400 instead of a more reasonable 50 - 100.

Re:Will this really make a difference? (2, Interesting)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658587)

If they really cared about this fine they'd refuse to pay it and watch the uproar that would ensue when it became illegal to sell Windows in the EU.

When a company or private individual refuses to pay a fine, what happens is they have the tax authorities impound goods or money up to the amount. And if they still refuse, the impounded assets are sold off to pay the fine (with any surplus going back to the previous owner of course). In the case of MS, they have various national subsidiaries with associated corporate accounts that would easily cover a fine of even this size. Nobody is going to stop selling Windows over this.

In practice, of course, if a fine is finalized, MS (or any company) pays. Having authorities raid your offices, with pictures of grim-looking officials carrying off financial records by the boxfuls is enough of a PR disaster that refusing isn't an option - especially since non-payment shows up pretty starkly in the company credit and especially since you end up paying the money in any case so you don't even actually gain anything by the pointless gesture.

This is not going to happen. (1)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658447)

1.5 years of 2.51 mln dollars a day would be somewhere around 1.35 bln dollars. Before all the
Microsoft hating Microsoft users that actually depend on their products (your stupid choice)
get all excited all it means is that everything from their Desktop OS to their smallbusiness
database offering, including support, training, certification and "professional" services
costs EUR 50 - EUR 300 more / item. That money then goes straight to the glorious EU your
Ubergovernment in Brussels and Strasbourg that is also living off of your back right alongside
your respective national government leeches.

Re:This is not going to happen. (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658480)

Before all the Microsoft hating Microsoft users that actually depend on their products....

People use software, not the Microsoft brand. Were they better informed / educated, they might explore some better choices. That does not mean one can accuse them harshly.

That money then goes straight to the glorious EU your
Ubergovernment in Brussels and Strasbourg that is also living off of your back right alongside
your respective national government leeches.


Is it fair to accuse the government and the people when the Justice system delivers a verdict against a mere company?
And assuming the Justice system instead left erring companies off the hook, what does that say of the people and the goverment?

Re:This is not going to happen. (1)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658592)

Instead of diverting the discussion down the usual boring path, why don't you look at
the more important facts:

1. That 1.35 billion $$$ "fine" will be paid by people buying Microsoft Products.
2. It goes into the coffers of the EU, yet another level of leeches that are taking away
      even more money from people who already have to contend with their greedy national
      "governments"

Re:This is not going to happen. (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658599)

let's hope that MS jacks up their prices. They won't of course. A billion or two is nothing to them. They made ten times that in europe in the last two years while ignoring their verdict.

Business as usual here. Lie, cheat, steal, make lots of money, pay 1% of it back in fines, lie, cheat and steal some more.

We can always hope... (0, Redundant)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658453)

We can always hope that Microsoft will tell Europe to stuff it, and it will pull all it's marbles out of Europe, and people will switch to OSS...

Re:We can always hope... (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658497)

It'll never happen. The fine could be ten times what it is, and Microsoft would still stay in Europe. If their monopoly is compromised in one part of the world, the rest of the world will follow. They can't allow that to happen.

300 engineers (3, Informative)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658455)

from TFA "I can assure you that we are continuing to work day and night with our 300 dedicated engineers to create documentation which is complete and accurate to satisfy the European Commission."

300 engineers to document some protocols? I could believe 10, maybe 20 could get the job done in a few weeks. How on earth could 300 engineers work together on such a (excuse my ignorance/naivete) trivial job for two years? Hasn't this guy heard of The Mythical Man Month? MS aren't idiots; they've designed the process to fail. They deserve every cent of the fines.

Re:300 engineers (4, Interesting)

convolvatron (176505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658472)

i actually talked to them about this work. apparently there are 150 seperate
protocols including CIFS, and tens of thousands of pages of documentation,
which are terribly inadequate given their culture. they were talking about
a spec-writing team of 50 to do part of that work in a 6 month period of
time. many of the other people involved were the engineers who did the
original implementations and are now the only source of information.

they dug themselves a really really big hole. getting out is basically
impossible.

Re:300 engineers (1)

rodac (580415) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658547)

Virtually all of those 150 protocols are dce-rpc based protocols.
As such they are already described in interface description files and compiled into marshalling/unmarshalling code using standard idl-compilers. Microsofts one is called midl.exe.

It would take no time at all to just take these interface description (idl) files and publish them.

Re:300 engineers (1)

rodac (580415) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658520)

It would not take very long to at least provide specifications of those protocol interfaces. A few hours is how long it would take at most to provide interface specifications to all protocols except SMB and SMB2 themself. All other protocols (except SMB and SMB2) are machinegenerated using idl compilers (midl.exe) from interface specification files : idl-files.

That would be a good start and it wouldnt require mote than one engineer spending 1 hour collecting and providing these itnerface specifications.

Once they have done that, they can use the engineers to provide higher level documentation for the actual protocols, but providing the interface specifications would be a matter of an hour, tops.


An interface description is a file that describes the packet format, i.e. the packet syntax. Sort of like the .x files for onc-rpc you will find down in /usr/include/srvsvc but idl files are for dce-rpc instead.

What is an off the record fine? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15658477)

Is that like double secret probation?

Oblig. (was: What is an off the record fine?) (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658595)

Yes, and if by some miracle they win a boat race [wikipedia.org] against Sun and Novell, not only will any multiple secret probation be rescinded, but José Barroso [wikipedia.org] will be forced to grandmaster a parade in Microsoft's honor.

And in related news... (1)

toddhunter (659837) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658512)

The price of windows has gone up by $10 with Microsoft sighting 'increased costs'.

Chump Change (0, Redundant)

cpu_fusion (705735) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658524)

Letsee... 1.5 years @ $2.51 million a day....

That's the sort of coin that Bill Gates finds in his sofa.

Don't think in terms of their cash in hand or flow (2, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658565)

It might be "chump change", but it seriously eats the daily profits of the company all the same (As in the damn fine eats approximately 1/20th of the profits per day...)- and ultimately they're answerable to the shareholders. They could have avoided this drag on profits- which is what is going to be the only thing they're going to see.

hmm, free budget money (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658528)

"say, MS has been abusing their monopoly.. maybe we could uh, fine them. Let's put it to a vote and see if anyone else wants money from MS?"

Re:hmm, free budget money (2, Insightful)

ecevans (980167) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658602)

So I don't know much about this, but according to a quick search I came up with 13 200 000 000 as a rough estimate for europe's GDP for 2002. Is 1/132th of a percent of their GDP going to make a difference in their budget spending? doubtful. But it will make a difference to Microsoft. I don't think this is a money grab at all, but that's just me.

Sad day for America (3, Interesting)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658533)

To me it's a sad day for America when we have to rely on other countries to police our corporations for us. Of course, I wonder if the EU would have been as hard on Microsoft if it were based in, say, France?

Re:Sad day for America (4, Informative)

rodac (580415) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658586)

Some years ago a large swedish company was fined for anti-competitive practises and price dumping on the italian market.

that is a big no-no and they were fined the standard 10% of the annual global revenue.

10% global annual revenue hurts big time if you are a multinational company.

many other european companies have been fined in the same way.

Re:Sad day for America (1)

Sumadartson (965043) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658594)

No, probably harder. One of the goals of the European Union is to create one market in Europe. European companies are therefore subject to stringent antitrust laws.

ouch! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15658537)

may i inquire who will acctually get to have
the MS money? i mean, is someone (in the eu)
going to pay for a hamburger at McDs, buy a car,
a house, or bring their "other" wife to a fancy
restaurant?
curious mind want to know!

2.5 million a day, going to which bank account exactly
and who has the right to withdraw from that said account?

please! i want to know!

maybe the "goverment" offices in eu is going to use
that money to get new compis with vista on them?

around and around it goes :P

(im from eu, or the only country in it which doesn't
belong to it)

Re:ouch! no! even better! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15658600)

MS should pay the fine in MS shares.
i'm sure this way this won't be an issue
in the future then :P

Great... (4, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658541)

Now roll that 1 billion dollars into OSS development to bring an open source OS and applications up to truly competitive levels with MS. Hell I'd even be satisfied if they paid EU software companies to port their application software to OSX. Just get some freaking competition in there already...

So who gets the 1.5 billion dollars? (-1, Flamebait)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 8 years ago | (#15658549)

Is it the EU so it can further subsidize Airbus as they create another stupid idea of a flying penis instead of an airplane anyone would want to fly one -- and then fail to deliver it? Will it be used to subsidize economies which are crumbling under the weight of their social programs and dozens of paid days off? Should we just write a check to a few key Italian politicians for their share?

I'm not a fan of Microsoft's predatory practices -- but the idea of a giant fine that does nothing to fix the problem sticks in my craw just a bit.

moD 3own (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15658579)

Bad summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15658596)

The ruling was in 2004 but the fines were to start on Dec. 12 2005 if MS had not complied by then. The actual current fine would be about $530M.

My question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15658598)

With all hte pr0n on the internet why the fuck would people pay for T&A softcore like Girls Gone Wild? Fuck, people are dumb.
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