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Microsoft Hit With 280m Euro Fine

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the thats-a-lotta-bread dept.

527

Craig Mason writes "The BBC Reports that "Microsoft has been fined 280.5m euros ($357m; £194m) by the European Commission for failing to comply with an anti-competition ruling. The software giant was hit by the fine following a long-running dispute between the US firm and EU regulators. The move follows a landmark EU ruling in 2004, which ordered Microsoft to provide rivals with information about its Windows operating system. EU regulators also warned Microsoft it could face new fines of 3m euros a day.""

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WOW! but.... (3, Insightful)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704437)

MSFT has a market cap of 230-something billion [yahoo.com] . Substantial? Not really.

Re:WOW! but.... (2, Interesting)

ThePilgrim (456341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704464)

True but the EU has allready started to ratchet up the fine.

If MS arn't in complience by the end of the month then the fine goes up another .5M euros.

The EU can start bumping up the fine as high as it wants now it has aggrement with the member states.

Re:WOW! but.... (0)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704520)

Microsoft could pull out of Europe totally.

Ballmer: "We have been trying real hard to bring civilization to the hordes in EU and what do we get in return? FINES !!! Bah !"

"Enough ! Time for us to close shop and go on."

"EU courts will be paid the fine in Windows CDs and Office CDs."

Re:WOW! but.... (0)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704571)

Microsoft could pull out of Europe totally.

And the EU could invalidate (or confiscate) all of Microsoft's copyrights in the interest of the State(s).

Re:WOW! but.... (2, Informative)

arivanov (12034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704581)

The fine is as per old fine rules which caps it at 10% of annual turnover per year of misconduct which will be unpleasant for Microsoft, but can be sustained for a very long time. Even the disobedience fine is only 50% of the period of breaking the rules after the ruling which is painfull, but not lethal.

Unfortunately the commission cannot apply the new rules which set a cap for the fine at 30% of backdated turnover and 100% of turnover past the violation. Now that level of fine would simply put any company out of business so even serial offenders like MSFT will have to sit up and notice.

For more info see here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/06/28/ec_fines_i ncrease/ [theregister.co.uk]

Re:WOW! but.... (5, Interesting)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704466)

I think the important point here is that the EU fined Microsoft and did not cave to pressure from the United States and interested third parties. There's no appealing this one. God bless the EU!

Now the question is will Microsoft comply?

Re:WOW! but.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15704611)

Now the question is will Microsoft comply?
What possible reason would they have to throw away such a huge amount of money to a bunch of sausage eating faggot Europeans? Surely they'll tell them to go pound sand. WTF does the EU think they can do to stop Microsoft from selling their products in Europe? It's a free market!

Re:WOW! but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15704485)

the exact amount of money is not the important factor here. microsoft is fined because they did not comply with the law, even when the court told them to do so. the big news here is that microsoft is not willing to abide laws.

Re:WOW! but.... (1)

jspectre (102549) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704550)

and this is something new? shocking?

besides, in the US, MS now writes their own laws thanks to their lobbiests & "donations" to politicans..

Re:WOW! but.... (4, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704560)

Market cap is not the important figure here, since that doesn't represent the actual capital that MSFT has on hand, but rather the market valuation of their shares. It's the income statement [yahoo.com] you want to look at.

For the FY ending 6/30/05, MSFT had a net income of US$ 12.2 billion. So, a fine of US $357 million IS significant -- it's roughly 3% of their net income.

Re:WOW! but.... (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704601)

It's still less than they ended up paying Eolas for patent infringement, however.

Market cap means little (4, Informative)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704609)

Market capitalisation is a joke number, meaningful only to people who do not understand the most basic economic laws. At any time only a small percentage of a company's shares is traded, and the price reflects the "scarcity value". Market capitalisation is based on the ludicrous idea that the worth of a company = number of shares issued * current trading price.

In fact, as with any situation where supply is (actually) relatively inelastic, if the supply side suddenly increased the price would drop dramatically. If Bill wanted to sell all his shares on Monday, how much do you think he would get for them? A lot, but nothing like the current price. The shares would be suspended as they started to go into freefall. Goes for houses, goes for Rembrandts, goes for shares. At one time during the Tokyo land price boom, Tokyo was capitalised at more, I believe, than the entire real estate of the US. Would you have swapped the US for metropolitan Tokyo?

Microsoft's market capitalisation is unimportant and meaningless; what matters is the effect of ongoing fines on their day to day operations, the market perception, and the buying decisions made by large institutions who will be reading all about it in the FT, Handelsblatt etc.

2 days (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15704438)

Acording to wikipedia, it will take them 2 days to recover it. Big deal.

Re:2 days (1)

baadger (764884) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704468)

link?

Re:2 days (3, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704541)

No, it is a bit more of a deal than just the face value.

Mud sticks. The EU has declared that MS should be punished for breaking the law. This does also negatively affect the MS brand by reducing consumer confidence and encouraging corporations to think twice.

Admittedly that's still not yet enough to really really hurt MS, but it will sting a little more than it looks.

Re:2 days (4, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704638)

Are you sure?

I presume you're refering to figures on this page [wikipedia.org] that puts MS's net income at US$12.25 billion (EU 9.63 billion) - Around 26m euros/day.

So, it would take them a little over 10 days to recover it, furthermore, you're comparing the fine for a single region to their world wide profits.

Its a pretty big deal, not just the cash, but the possibilities for further fines (or harsher penalties).

About time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15704442)

I notice that the amount MS has been fined has nearly halved since the original ruling, but that the ongoing fine it's threatened with has changed to 3million/day, from 2million/day.

Re:About time (2, Informative)

Zyprexia (988133) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704493)

The fine is based on the period december 16th, 2005 till june 20th, 2006. Microsoft had till December 16th to fullfil the requirements of the EC. Remember that this fine is added to the original fined 497M in 2004. And the EC is still counting until Microsoft has delivered all required documentation, but the ticker now says 3m per day. I don't believe there's a deadline set yet.. But i wouldn't be suprised if that would be set anywhere around December 20th 2006 (6 months as of june).

yanqui (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15704444)

bites the dust... eat that loXer

Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15704446)

The EU calling Microsoft "anti-competitive".
Fortress Europe sure has some balls.

Re:Irony (3, Insightful)

D.B. Tits (963332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704465)

so, you must be living in the United States of Protectionism?

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15704637)

Oh please. The level of protectionism between the US vs. the EU isn't even close. The United States of Protectionism sounds more like Europe. When it comes to free trade, the US is probably the most free and competitive in the western world.

Speedbump? (1, Insightful)

gentimjs (930934) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704448)

Does a guy driving a hummer really notice a 1-inch speedbump? Microsoft's CFO will probably be laughing as he draws the fine from pettycash.....
Add a few zeroes on the tail end, then we'll see if they notice.

Re:Speedbump? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15704608)

Does a guy driving a hummer really notice a 1-inch speedbump?

yes when he hits it at 80mph, it will rattle his teeth and probably launch him to the ceiling.

It's persepctive. A ferrari testerosa will feel it at 5 mph, the hummer will feel it at 20+mph

the ferarri is much more expensive and better built.

SO are you equating microsoft with a large lumbering overpriced and slow vehicle that is horribly inefficient?

Re:Speedbump? (1)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704635)

The fines aren't meant to destroy MS forever. They are just a warning shot across the bow. They have increased to $3 million per day, and will continue to increase until the shot across the bow changes to full ramming speed. Its not nice to fuck with continents.

Worrying thought... (4, Interesting)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704449)

What happens if they don't pay?

Easy (2, Insightful)

gentimjs (930934) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704471)

The same thing that happens whenever a big company doesnt pay a fine. Absolutly nothing.
Since you cant put a corporate entity in jail, and current structures are such that shareholders and executives face few legal penalties for the actions of the corporation (rather than thier own personal actions, such as in the enron ordeal) there's little real incentive for them to actualy pay up.

Re:Easy (4, Interesting)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704503)

This is my point. What would be the consequences of such inaction? Basically, the EU is seen to be powerless against mega-corporations. The law is subject to corporations, not the other way around. M$ would be perceived as above the law in the EU! Big, big trouble...

The only way the EU could actually enforce this would be to threaten, essentially, trade sanctions. But how heavily is the government, industrial and home market of every EU country saturated with M$ products? So they can't even impose anything worth a damn without incurring massively detrimental consequences themselves.

Think this through, seriously. It's frightening.

Re:Easy (1)

gentimjs (930934) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704538)

I agree, its very upsetting. I'm sure MS will pay just to maintain apperances (again, not like they'll even notice a petty 280 million...) but if they just didnt pay ... not refused to pay, but just didnt pay and didnt explain the non-payment .. the EU has very small teeth going after a corporate entity, and especially a foreign one...

Re:Easy (3, Funny)

oneandoneis2 (777721) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704545)

Stopping MS selling anything new in Europe wouldn't disable any of the current MS installations - They could sanction MS without hurting themselves much.

I think it'd be more poetic if they just revoked MS's copyrights and declared Windows "freeware", tho - chairs would wind up hurled into orbit when that one got announced ;o)

Re:Easy (1)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704593)

Heh heh.
Oooh, I hope there's someone at Brussels reading this thread, getting ideas...

Re:Easy (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704612)

They can't really declare it freeware. What happens when Microsoft did comply, how can you just take that back. Will it mean that everybody who has copied it will now by in breach of copyright? Will it mean that Microsoft loses copyright on all it's products until it realeases new ones. It is a nice idea to think about, but infeasable.

Re:Easy (2, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704596)

But how heavily is the government, industrial and home market of every EU country saturated with M$ products? So they can't even impose anything worth a damn without incurring massively detrimental consequences themselves.
You know, the only thing that allows Microsoft to sell software in the EU to begin with is the fact that the EU enforces their copyright for them. The easiest thing would be for the EU to declare that all of Microsoft's products are Public Domain -- then they can keep using it all they want while incurring massive benefits (no more need to buy licenses! Woohoo!) instead.

Re:Easy (1)

Homology (639438) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704557)

The same thing that happens whenever a big company doesnt pay a fine. Absolutly nothing. Since you cant put a corporate entity in jail, and current structures are such that shareholders and executives face few legal penalties for the actions of the corporation (rather than thier own personal actions, such as in the enron ordeal) there's little real incentive for them to actualy pay up.

EU can bar the company from doing any business in EU, or severly restrict what it does. I'm sure that EU has a range of options from the do-nothing to the draconian, if it so choose.

Re:Worrying thought... (5, Informative)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704494)

What happens if they don't pay?

What happens when anybody doesn't pay an outstanding court-ordered fine? Likely they'd just freeze their assets in Europe until it's paid. In extremis they'd sell off assets to cover the amount.

Don't forget, this is a court-ordered fine - a punishment - upheld after an appeal. Nonpayment really is not an option. It will not come to that of course; just imagine what such an action would do to their credit rating and reputation.

Re:Worrying thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15704509)

Don't forget, this is a court-ordered fine - a punishment - upheld after an appeal.

I wouldn't call it a court ordered fine, as such. It's the EU Commission acting as a regulatory agency, that imposed the fine. It has been upheld by a court though.

Credit rating? (4, Funny)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704512)

just imagine what such an action would do to their credit rating

Ohhh I never thought of that. It will be a really huge problem for Microsoft if they ever need to purchase some new company cars but the bank won't loan them the money...

How will they cope?

Re:Credit rating? (5, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704542)

I know you're joking, but large companies really do have a "credit rating" -- it's called their bond rating or bond score. They don't just go to a bank and borrow money, they basically write their own fiat currency (bonds) and sell them to raise capital. Depending on the perceived health of the company, the bonds are perceived as more or less risky.

I don't know Microsoft's offhand, but I'm betting it's pretty good...not that they need to raise capital, with the amount of money they have sitting around.

Re:Worrying thought... (1)

ThePilgrim (456341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704505)

The EU gets a caught order to seize Microsoft assets to the value of the fine.

+ Intrest

+ Court costs

+ Recovery fees

well.. (1)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704527)

the same things that's happened every other time they ignored a ruling - some judge ups the ante and slaps a slightly larger fine on them. Ballmer throws a few chairs, Gates sheds a single tear, and we are back to square one.

Re:Worrying thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15704559)

The way western governments work when you ignore their orders is that they will simply escalate the conflict until it is settled. This will go past more courts, all kinds of pressure, and could theoretically go right up to seizing assets, putting people in prison, or even violence. I doubt that Microsoft would let it get that far though...

Re:Worrying thought... (2, Insightful)

Gadzinka (256729) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704615)

What happens if they don't pay?

The same thing that happens when Citizen Joe doesn't pay. Couple of notices, first from authorities, then from collection agencies. Then freezing of assets. If it still doesn't help, liquidation of assets, or company.

Robert

Hooray!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15704450)

At last.

Which fine is high enough? (1)

Blue Warlord (854914) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704451)

It seems so far Microsoft isn't really worrying over a fine of 1.5 million/day, this makes me wonder what amount of money is needed to make it an issue they want to comply with. Any ideas?

Re:Which fine is high enough? (1)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704549)

It seems so far Microsoft isn't really worrying over a fine of 1.5 million/day, this makes me wonder what amount of money is needed to make it an issue they want to comply with. Any ideas?

This would work: 1.5 million lines of Windows source code per day will be uncopyrighted (is that a word?) and effectively made Open Source in Europe each day until they comply.

I bet it would take them about 2 days to get all the documentation written under those conditions.

Re:Which fine is high enough? (1)

lanswitch (705539) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704577)

Maybe it's no longer important whether microsoft pays up. They have lost Europe as a market.
Right now I can choose which linux company i want to work for, but there are few opportunities for windows sysadmins. My guess: most of the companies here are either migrating to Linux, or looking into it.

Bah, its worth it. (1)

surefooted1 (838360) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704453)

I think that it is worth $3 million a day to keep your OS closed, don't you?

Re:Bah, its worth it. (1)

baadger (764884) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704486)

They don't have to open the OS to avoid the fines, just provide a bundle of information on it to keep the EU happy. I doubt even after this bundle is delivered it'll be enough

Not holding my breath (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704454)

But being Microsoft, I assume they would pay in pennies and demand a receipt?

Re:Not holding my breath (1)

Ekhymosis (949557) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704478)

If I'm not mistaken, a while back a man paid a huge fine in 1 dollar increments. He thought it was pretty clever until the judge told him to count it to verify it all. Needless to say, he had to hire a few people to help him count the stash and got screwed even more. If anyone has the link or knows what I'm talking about, feel free to jump in. Memory is slowly fading.

Re:Not holding my breath (1)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704587)

I don't believe it. Can't he just quickly scan it and say, 'OK, I've counted it'.

Unless they double-check how can they prove that he hasn't counted it?

Re:Not holding my breath (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704623)

that is exactly what i would have done

Big Whoop (1)

thelonestranger (915343) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704455)

If you belive what they say in the newspapers Billy Gates makes $7 Million in the 8 hours he's asleep so it shouldn't take him to long to make this back. The phrase "drop in the ocean" springs to mind.

wow (3, Interesting)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704456)

what a small slap on the wrist which is small even by the standards that the EU set themselves, typical, the fine should have been over 1.8 bn euros if they'd done what they said (about 3m euros a day backdated to 2004)... why so small?

Re:wow (2, Informative)

fritsd (924429) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704606)

It's backdated to december 2005 IIRC

Debundling WMP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15704460)

What exactly was the motivation behind this? All the named alternatives that Microsoft are supposedly suppressing are crippleware (like Quicktime) or adware/spyware(like Real). Why shouldn't they be allowed to ship their OS with a free, albeit crap, media player?

Re:Debundling WMP (-1)

baadger (764884) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704500)

...next they'll be fining car manufacturers for selling cars with a specific brand of stereo/sound system and being anti-competitive.

Re:Debundling WMP (2, Informative)

dvice_null (981029) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704573)

What word in the sentence "monopoly" you don't understand?

Re:Debundling WMP (5, Informative)

WhodoVoodoo (319477) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704511)

The idea is that the EU claims (rather correctly, and you'll see why this is not an issue) that MS used it's desktop monopoly to attempt to gain a monopoly in the media player market. They were then forced to unnbundle WMP, which they did in Windows N. Also to pay that original fine we already heard about last year.

Now here's where you lost the trail; the contention now is NOT ABOUT WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER. It's about underlying windows APIs that the EU claims MS is leveraging to use their DESKTOP os monopoly (which is okay) to shoehorn their way higher up in the server space. What they required MS to do was provide their competition with information about the windows OS that would let competing products interoperate as smoothly as microsoft products.

It's kind of a convoluted, complicated, and misreported case. The EU commision is saying "Look, you can't hide these details about your desktop os just so nobody can make a (whatever server) as good as yours, you can make the whatever server, but your competitors need to have equal footing. SO tell them how (whatever) works."

theres a bunch more, 12000 pages of docs, source code sharing (under a restrictive license competitors must pay for, this is more complicated due to the possibility of DMCA claims) etc.

From the BBC site: (5, Interesting)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704463)

FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Telegraph EU fines Microsoft ,280.5m - 30 mins ago
Guardian Unlimited EU hits Microsoft with 280.5m antitrust fine - 34 mins ago
MSNBC Microsoft calls EU fine unjust - 37 mins ago
vnunet.com EC slaps 280m fine on Microsoft - 38 mins ago
The Register Commission beats Microsoft with ,280m stick - 41 mins ago
You can almost believe in bias free journalism, can you? :)

Re:From the BBC site: (4, Insightful)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704506)

I went to the MSNBC website to check. They do have that story, but a fairer comparision would be the story that was posted a few minutes before it:

Microsoft fined 280m over EU antitrust ruling

Re:From the BBC site: (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704547)

He didn't claim the BBC didn't try to sway opinions, did he? :)

Re:From the BBC site: (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704574)

I went there to check, too. The "Microsoft fined 280m over EU antitrust ruling" article seems to be quick, syndicated news. The Microsoft calls EU fine unjust is headline news at the international business section.

Also, information about how BBC links to external articles: here [bbc.co.uk] .

Re:From the BBC site: (1)

baadger (764884) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704528)

...thats just exclusive reporting, not a lack of bias. To report that Microsoft find the fine unjust is to report that they have been fined. Good for MSNBC.

Tomorrow's news: (1)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704602)

Microsoft sentenced to death.

They're claiming it's a "clarity" problem? (2, Interesting)

CurtMonash (986884) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704467)

Like, "our documentation wasn't good enough", or "those commissioners are too dumb to understand we don't deserve to be punished?"

The real problem, of course, is that Windows is such a huge hairball -- as Scott McNealy so aptly put it -- that they don't really know how to unbundle. Complying with the law is just as late as everything else is.

But before we all bash them too too hard -- where, again, are the usable Linux desktops that we'd like to have to replace Windows???

Re:They're claiming it's a "clarity" problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15704513)

But before we all bash them too too hard -- where, again, are the usable Linux desktops that we'd like to have to replace Windows???
 
Nowhere. Same reason Gimp and Blender will never compete with Photoshop and Max in their current form - the OSS community sucks at usability. Until they stop regarding command lines, quirky interfaces, obscure shortcuts, user unfriendly documentation and manual installs as some kind of badge of honor, the vast majority of Open Source products will always be condemned to niche status

Re:They're claiming it's a "clarity" problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15704618)

I dunno, Suse and Ubuntu are pretty damn nice nowadays =)
I've never used Linspire, but I know it's been trying to do all that too.

Re:They're claiming it's a "clarity" problem? (2, Funny)

zotz (3951) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704517)

[But before we all bash them too too hard -- where, again, are the usable Linux desktops that we'd like to have to replace Windows???]

On my computers?

all the best,

drew
(da idea man)

Re:They're claiming it's a "clarity" problem? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704530)

But before we all bash them too too hard -- where, again, are the usable Linux desktops that we'd like to have to replace Windows???

If there was a plug-in replacement OS, then there wouldn't be a monololy, or any need for this. MS has stifled competition for decades, it's amazing there is anything viable left at all.

Re:They're claiming it's a "clarity" problem? (1)

ThePilgrim (456341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704575)

But before we all bash them too too hard -- where, again, are the usable Linux desktops that we'd like to have to replace Windows???

One of them is running on my PC at home

Re:They're claiming it's a "clarity" problem? (4, Insightful)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704613)

But before we all bash them too too hard -- where, again, are the usable Linux desktops that we'd like to have to replace Windows???

Give us the documentationthen we will write you your Windows replacements!!! What do you think this whole case is about???

PLEASE MOD PARENT UP (1)

fritsd (924429) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704627)

.. because it's only 2 lines, but exactly explains the whole point of this court case, clearly, without the FUD. thanks!

Haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15704470)

I wonder what Steve Jobs is doing...

the EU victim (1, Informative)

zziggy (980206) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704472)

"The judgment also called for Microsoft to debundle its Windows Media Player from its Windows operating system, and slapped the software firm with a record fine of 497m euros. " "Microsoft has been fined 280.5m euros ($357m; £194m) by the European Commission for failing to comply with an anti-competition ruling." fines... 497... 280 - did they pay anything? will they? ... it will take time.... plenty of time... they'll try to market this as being the new victim of EU...

Re:the EU victim (1)

hankwang (413283) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704518)

497... 280 - did they pay anything?
Yes, they paid the 497 in full back in 2004. [com.com] . Quote: [EC spokesman] Mamer indicated that it was not unusual for companies to pay cash to cover such a penalty, and said about half of all organizations paying fines to the EC do the same.

Can they pay with licenses? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704473)

94 million redeemable copies of XP/Office/Visual Studio should be good ;)

So what? (2, Funny)

8127972 (73495) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704477)


1. 280 million Euros is a drop in the bucket for M$.
2. They will delay, stall, and avoid paying for as long as possible.
3. When #2 fails, they will magically announce that they are in compliance.
4. ?????
5. Profit!

Re:So what? (2, Funny)

chiskop (926270) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704537)

Unforunately, it's more like:
  1. Profit!
  2. 280 million Euros is a drop in the bucket for M$.
  3. Profit!
  4. They will delay, stall, and avoid paying for as long as possible.
  5. Profit!
  6. When #4 fails, they will magically announce that they are in compliance.
  7. Profit!
  8. ?????
  9. Profit!

Re:So what? (-1, Troll)

mrxak (727974) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704622)

No no, you've both missed it.

1. Have high unemployment and an aging population.
2. Form a group with your fellow 2nd world countries.
3. Find somebody rich enough that you can fine them a significant amount of money and they won't think it's all that bad (bonus points if it's a US company).
4. Use the money from the fines to prop up your economy.
5. ????
6. Profit!

See, it's really quite ingenious. It's a large bit of money, but not enough for Microsoft to suddenly pull out of Europe. They'll tolerate these fines probably for years, that's a good bit of income for countries in Europe with not-so-great economies. Cheers, EU!

Gates' reply (1, Troll)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704479)

Ballmer, hand me my personnal checkbook.

Re:Gates' reply (1)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704592)

Checkbook? Hah! He could find that much under toe cushions of his sofa.

Higher fines possible (5, Interesting)

bobbo69 (905401) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704482)

From the FT: 'Under European Union competition rules companies that fail to comply with a Commission ruling can be fined up to 5 per cent of their daily worldwide turnover.

In Microsoft's case this would be about $5.5m-a-day.'

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/c55bc756-1047-11db-8f6f-00 00779e2340.html [ft.com]

I would imagine that there would be stiffer penalties (i.e., non-financial aimed at curtailing MSFT's ability to trade in the EU) available if MSFT continued to defy the commission. If there were not this would be a de facto admission that companies can break the law in the EU with impunity if they are rich enough. I very much doubt the commission would tolerate that state of affairs.

Interesting (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704562)

So a company can, at max, be fined 5% of its income.

I, on the other hand, can be fined for amounts that exceed my income by a few 100 percent.

I'd sue. If I could afford it.

Most of the fine (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15704483)

... is earmarked for spending on chair-proof windows ;)

Who gets the money? (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704492)

Who exactly gets the money? Lucky them. Surprised they don't levy fines like this more often.

Re:Who gets the money? (1)

Tarantulus (916467) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704554)

The french, it's always the french

Where does the money go? (1)

InsaneLampshade (890845) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704497)

Surely i can't be the only one wondering where all this money goes if/when Microsoft pay. Who gets to keep it? What is it spent on?

Re:Where does the money go? (3, Informative)

D.B. Tits (963332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704616)

Well, the EU is comparable to a Federal Government. The money will be added to the total EU budget.

Re:Where does the money go? (2, Insightful)

mcwop (31034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704633)

I hope they use it to switch away from MS products, and not give it right back to MSFT by upgrading to Vista.

Bigger fines/stiffer punishments (2, Insightful)

Ekhymosis (949557) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704516)

I agree with the folks that posted about the whole "drop in the ocean" or "280 million euros is barely a dent" arguments. Until the EU hits them with even bigger fines or stiffer penalties, all MS is going to do is whine and moan and complain and stall stall stall and occasionally release whatever the EU demands.

It's not really hurting them financially, but maybe all these fines will a.) start adding up and b.) start making average people pay attention to how MS is screwing other companies up. But chances are, the average person doesn't care about MS's tactics, all they want is their damn computer to work, politics be damned. And that is why, at the end of the day, MS wins. (Mayhaps that made no sense, but it's late and I'm dead tired)

Re:Bigger fines/stiffer punishments (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704595)

The average person thinks Bill Gates is a supergenius god of computers. The average person worships the fact that he has so much money, and uses his bank account as a measure of how important and admirable the guy is. Every time I fix someones computer or fix some big IT issue I get people comment about me being the next Bill Gates, or my kids growing up to be the next Bill Gates and it makes me sick. The man is a sham, he is incredibly immoral, and I don't believe for a second that all of his 'charity' is any more than cheap PR because he knows people are catching on. The time/money he spends on charity would be like me tossing a nickel in a homeless guys cup and expecting to get Time Person of the Year for it.

The money worship that goes on these days makes me sick...all he is is a very good and very rich theif and scam artist. Even more sickening is listening to people defend his antics as "You would do the same if you had that kind of money" or "so what? He still has more money than you will ever see".

The european Competition Commission press release: (1)

Xamataca (921539) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704519)

Today's Decision concludes that as of 20 June 2006, Microsoft had still not supplied complete and accurate interoperability information as required by the March 2004 Decision. Microsoft's obligations in this regard are clearly outlined in that Decision, both in terms of the result to be achieved, and in terms of what Microsoft must do to achieve that result. These obligations were specific and have not changed: it is for Microsoft to produce usable documentation.
Complete press release here: http://europa.eu.int/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do? reference=IP/06/979&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN &guiLanguage=en/ [eu.int]

Enough is enough (1)

MadSweeper (742042) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704522)

What would happen to the world if Microsoft said "Ok, enough's enough. 'Frig' you all!" and shuts down! They all have enough money to live comfortably for the rest of their lives (and then some). I think that a lot of people rely on MS software...
Eventually you get fed-up with the fly that buzzes around your head and you kill it.

Re:Enough is enough (2, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704532)

What would happen to the world if Microsoft said "Ok, enough's enough. 'Frig' you all!" and shuts down!

The people who made the decision would get sued by their shareholders, employees and their customers simultaneously.

Re:Enough is enough (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704610)

Nothing. It's simple as that. Nothing would happen, immediately.

Of course, there would be a huge vacuum in the end user OS market. But then, there's nobody that keeps you from copying your OS. People would probably not be able to activate their WinXP anymore (unless someone writes a, then legal, crack/patch for it), so they would probably step back to Win2k. Copy it, it's legal (the one holding the rights is "dead". Because if there was someone who picked up the rights for the systems, the whole point would be moot since he would also be responsible to keep the system running).

For the next 3-4 years, people would 'survive' on the old systems. They're good enough to exist for a little longer. And then other OS manufacturers will step in. Apple will certainly try to push into the market, now that they have the ability to run on x86 systems. Linux distributions will try to expand their market share, trying to break into the low-end user market. Sun might try a stunt to get out of the hole they're in. And of course IBM would certainly try to regain some of their business partners.

So I'd say if MS just said "fu.. you, I quit", the result would be a bomb in the IT sector, markets and stocks would go bonkers for a few days or even weeks, but I doubt there would be any real fallout.

Erh... something runs wrong here. (2, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704529)

EU: MS, you're fined 1.5 M a day.
MS: Ok.

(pause a year)

EU: MS, you didn't pay, you're fined 2.5m a day.
MS: Ok.

(pause a year)

EU: MS, you still didn't pay, you're fined 3.5m a day.
MS: ok.

Is it me or ... I mean, hell, if I didn't pay a speeding ticket I'd be in jail before this year is over, not next or some decade. What's a fine good for if the one fined doesn't bother paying?

stalling costs court money also (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704548)

Don't forget that for M$ to stall costs them money in legal fees, etc. as well. It is a very slow bleed, but enough drains like this and they will be in trouble. A 200+ million dollar antitrust type fine definitely is difficult to explain away to shareholders!

Double Standard (0)

Kamujin (988402) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704551)

Am I the only one who finds it the least bit ironic that while the EU fines MS for bundling application, Apple is bashing MS with comericals bragging about how it bundles MORE software? I guess having no marketshare gives you the right to extra competative advantage?

Re:Double Standard (4, Interesting)

mccalli (323026) | more than 8 years ago | (#15704625)

Am I the only one who finds it the least bit ironic that while the EU fines MS for bundling application, Apple is bashing MS with comericals bragging about how it bundles MORE software? I guess having no marketshare gives you the right to extra competative advantage?

Yes, I noticed that. However, the comparison is actually "Mac vs PC", not "Mac vs Microsoft". I can't buy a PC from Microsoft, I can buy a PC from Dell. Or HP. Or Fred down the road if I give him the cash to build one.

Dell, HP and Fred-down-the-road can bundle whatever applications they like. Years ago a lot of budget places used to bundle Lotus Smartsuite to keep their prices down vs bundling Office. So the comparison is valid. And yes, having no marketshare does rather free you from monopolist rules because, pretty much by definition, you're not a monopolist.

Cheers,
Ian

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