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Microsoft Responds to EU With Another Question

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the dismantling-from-the-ground-up dept.

Microsoft 545

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has responded to the latest round of EU requests by asking how much the EU thinks they should charge for Windows Server Protocols. The EU has stated the Microsoft should charge based on 'innovation, not patentability' and that they have 'examined 160 Microsoft claims to patented technologies' concluding 'only four may only deserve to claim a limited degree of innovation.' The EU is also starting to discuss structural remedies as opposed to the behavioral remedies they are currently enforcing. At what point has/will the EU overstepped its bounds?"

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545 comments

Publish or Perish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18855667)

Publish them all! No unpublished protocols.

Re:Publish or Perish (3, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856149)

It is only by the mandated rules of the government, speaking with the voice of all the people, that Microsoft has any rights to charge people for this at all.

It is only by the mandated rules of the government(s) that their money has any value period.

The EU cannot overstep their mandate where Microsoft is concerned.

I'm not going to be around much longer (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18855691)

I'm going to kill myself and maybe take out a few unlucky people...

Owned.

Never (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18855695)

Never if it means they are protecting the industry, consumers and future innovation

At what point? (4, Insightful)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855701)

Q: At what point has/will the EU overstepped its bounds?
A: Is it really necessary that every Slashdot summary ends with a very polarizing question?

Re:At what point? (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855721)

Well, what question should the editors ask?

Re:At what point? (3, Insightful)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855829)

Do they really need to ask anything?

Re:At what point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18855919)

It's so we can give one-word answers in the tags. Except this isn't a yes/no question, so I'm really not sure what to say.

Re:At what point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18856179)

How about 'already'?

Re:At what point? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856037)

A: Is it really necessary that every Slashdot summary ends with a very polarizing question?

I'm not sure which is worse - the editors egging on the readership with polarizing questions to improve page views or the readership not getting it. I guess we'll have to rule in favor of the editors - if they've got people willing to play the game, they only stand to lose by not playing it.

That is to say, if you don't want a certain behavior, ignore it, don't reward it. Works for two year olds and slashtrolls anyway.

Re:At what point? (5, Insightful)

realkiwi (23584) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856055)

I think that is for EU citizens to decide.

At what point should the EU government stop protecting its citizens from a convicted monopolist? Is probably a better question.

Re:At what point? (3, Funny)

Frankie70 (803801) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856059)


A: Is it really necessary that every Slashdot summary ends with a very polarizing question?


Nope. That it end with a stupid question is neccessary. The stupid question may
or may not be polarizing.

Re:At what point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18856075)


Q: At what point has/will the EU overstepped its bounds?
A: Is it really necessary that every Slashdot summary ends with a very polarizing question?

AQ: Is it really necessary that every Slashdot summary ends with a very polarizing question?
AA: Is it really necessary that an opening post should contain a very polarizing question?

Re:At what point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18856083)

Q: At what point has/will the EU overstepped its bounds?
A: Is it really necessary that every Slashdot summary ends with a very polarizing question?


Q: Is it necessary?
A: Are you new to Slashdot?

Q: Is it necessary to answer to questions?
A: Who knows the answer?

Too late... (0, Flamebait)

MarkAD88 (971843) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855705)

The EU has already overstepped their bounds. No government should be allowed to tell a company what it is they can charge for a product nor whether their individual products are "innovative" or just "patentable".

Forget the fact that the entire process is a blatant example of socialism, it's just purely one-sided and I believe that no matter what Microsoft does at this point the EU will just continue to abuse this implied authority that they've been granted until they can drive Microsoft off their shores or make all of the products free in EU.

Re:Too late... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18855727)

I wish I had mod points, you'd get an "insightful".

Re:Too late... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18855833)

That is a ridiculous statement. Microsoft is the one over stepping the bounds. A company is an artificial construct that is licensed to do business by a government. Hence the business has a duty to follow the legal rules.

Re:Too late... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18855875)

So you agree with the statement that the government should be able to tell companies what to charge for their products?

Re:Too late... (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855959)

When one creates something, one must take responsibility for it. Setting rules for it seems like a logical measure.

Re:Too late... (2, Insightful)

ricree (969643) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856057)

Hence the business has a duty to follow the legal rules.
No one here is arguing that. We're arguing that these rules (if they actually give the EU the power it is claiming) seem to have some serious issues. Just because something is a law does not automatically make it right.

Re:Too late... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18855879)

Yet the same government should have a duty of enshuring the product isn't use^H^H^Hcopied without permission?

Re:Too late... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18856185)

Off topic, I know, but what does this "^H^H^H^H^H^H (Ad Infinitum)" actually mean?

Re:Too late... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18855895)

Forget the fact that the entire process is a blatant example of socialism

No, the existence of patent monopolies in the first place is a blatant example of corporate welfare. The EU shouldn't fine microsoft - it should simply definitively abolish patents in the EU and restore free-market competition. While patents exist, free markets don't.

Re:Too late... (3, Interesting)

ricree (969643) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856141)

Sure, but I don't agree that a totally free market is the ultimate end goal that we should judge things by. Honestly, I'm not really sure what criteria would be best used as a measure, but I do believe that free markets are merely a generally good way to get there, not the end goal itself. As far as patents are concerned, I disagree that they are a bad thing. Besides the standard argument of protecting innovation, they also serve the important role of exposing most innovations to public record. Sure, the companies get a temporary monopoly, but once that time has expired we are left with all records of the innovations as a matter of public record. To my mind, that is a lot better than having to deal with a bunch of companies that hoard their trade secrets so that they never see the light of day.

Re:Too late... (2, Insightful)

cheese_lord (834106) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856201)

Really. Abolish patents...

By doing that you would basically eliminate free market, or at least damage it, because there would be no incentive to innovate. As soon as you designed some great product, say Slicedbread v2.1, some yahoo comes along and decides to copy most of your work and name it Slicedcheese v1.0. Because of this you would make less profit and are less motivated to work on your next project... Slicedmeat.

Come to think of it you just reinforced the quote from the parent.

Re:Too late... (1)

Cygfrydd (957180) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855901)

Flamebait, perhaps, but no more so than any other opinion expressed on Slashdot... and it doesn't make it any less true.

Re:Too late... (3, Insightful)

KokorHekkus (986906) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855911)

The EU has already overstepped their bounds. No government should be allowed to tell a company what it is they can charge for a product nor whether their individual products are "innovative" or just "patentable"
If the government hadn't granted the companies certain rights (protection of copyrights, patents and trade secrets) the companies would have almost nothing to protect. It's highly absurd to say that a government should have no say whatsoever when it comes to limiting the very rights they themselves have bestowed. You can't both have a cake an eat it.

Re:Too late... (-1, Flamebait)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856119)

Yeah, in fact my right to exist is granted by the government and I should be grateful that they let me breathe.
Stalin would be so proud of you.

Re:Too late... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18856181)

Take your strawmen elsewhere.

Re:Too late... (1)

shystershep (643874) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856243)

So you're saying that you're 'right' to breathe is just like a business entity's right to make money from a patent?

<name of some famous sensationalist idiot> would be so proud of you.

Re:Too late... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18856249)

If you think 'incorporated' means the same thing for you and Microsoft, then I have a bridge between Manhattan and Staten Island to sell that you might be interested to buy.

Re:Too late... (1)

Bearpaw (13080) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856247)

You can't both have a cake an eat it.

Well, I can't eat a cake that I don't have. But otherwise, it's a reasonable point. Corporations wouldn't exist without "government intervention". People against "government intervention" are usually just against the government intervention that they personally don't like. (Though some of the really creative ones will support exactly the same intervention as long as it only applies to their competitors.)

Re:Too late... (5, Informative)

ILikeRed (141848) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855931)

Innovative and patentable APIs?!? Oh, you mean like Microsoft's version of Kerberos - great patent application there.

From the US DOJ finding that Microsoft purposefully breaks Kerberos interoperability [usdoj.gov].

----[quoting]----

For example, Kerberos is an industry standard for encryption, in which certain fields are reserved for optional use. Microsoft, however, has used one of those fields to produce its own proprietary version of the standard. In itself, this is unobjectionable.

Microsoft, however, has gone one step further: it has manipulated its operating systems and middleware so that they will use and accept only the Microsoft version of the Kerberos standard.(16) This is diametrically contrary to the purpose for which standards, even with optional fields, are developed. Optional fields are included in standards to enable firms to add information to a message. Ordinarily, if an optional field is used in creating standard messages, those messages can still be sent and received among all products that comply with the standard. In such cases, the information included in the optional field may simply be ignored. Optional fields are never, however, intended to enable a firm -- i.e., Microsoft -- to subvert the standard and preclude its widespread usage.(17)

16. The CCIA explains that "[w]hile the Kerberos Version 5 Microsoft uses for their security services is a standard, the way they have implemented Kerberos is not a standard and renders it nearly inoperable with any other implementation." CCIA White Paper, supra, at 24.

17. Not content with Microsoft's corruption of the Kerberos standard, Microsoft has filed for a patent on its proprietary version. Consequently, not only will Microsoft products fail to interoperate with non-Microsoft products (because of the modification), but Microsoft will not allow anyone else to use its version unless they purchase a license from Microsoft.

Re:Too late... (5, Insightful)

niiler (716140) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855961)

I see that companies are sovereign powers now, and that they are able to do whatever whenever because it is their god-given right to earn money for the share-holders, yada-yada-yada. Give me a break. If MS doesn't like Europe's laws, they can go and try to sell their products elsewhere. Nothing guarantees them the right to make a profit.

Re:Too late... (1)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855977)

I modded it so its only fair that I take the bait. How about the US oil market? How about "de-regulated" electricity?

I'll take socialism over laissez-faire capitalism any day of the week. How's your heating bill?

Re:Too late... (4, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856153)

The EU has already overstepped their bounds. No government should be allowed to tell a company what it is they can charge for a product nor whether their individual products are "innovative" or just "patentable".

You do know this is part of a settlement for criminal activity right? You might as well argue that just because a cat food manufacturer put poison in their cat food, the government should not be allowed to mandate that they enact stricter testing measures as part of their punishment for breaking the law in the first place.

Forget the fact that the entire process is a blatant example of socialism...

Do you even know what socialism is?

...it's just purely one-sided...

It's strange how the punishment phase of a convicted criminal is often one-sided isn't it? I mean how come car thieves have to go to jail and aren't really given anything positive, like a new motorcycle?

...no matter what Microsoft does at this point the EU will just continue to abuse this implied authority that they've been granted until they can drive Microsoft off their shores or make all of the products free in EU.

The EU commission has very limited authority, but it does include stopping MS from breaking the same laws they stop everyone else from breaking. Once MS stops breaking the law, their complaints might have merit.

Re:Too late... (5, Insightful)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856165)

"The EU has already overstepped their bounds."

Indeed. By granting copyright and patent protection to MS, they have interfered with natural selection. Your argument is invalid because without government, there would be no such thing as patents.

MS has abused its privileges. The people have a right to revoke them.

Re:Too late... (1)

jeffasselin (566598) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856197)

Your implication that socialism is "wrong" is funny and sad.

The EU's bounds are its citizen's to decide. End of the discussion. If you're a EU citizen, then bringing your concerns to your duly elected local or federal representative through a petition, a letter, or a manifestation; as well as by voting against people you don't agree with is the proper way to act. Not by posting flamebait on Slashdot.

ITS OVER NINE THOUSAND (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18855707)

DESU

Appropriate price? Zero Euros and redistribution (4, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855711)

The EU's goal is ostensibly to ensure proper competition in the market, right? And let's face it, MS's only real competition is Free Software. Therefore, the only possible fair price for the protocol specs is free, and with free redistribution, so that it's able to be used by Free Software.

(Note that I'm talking about interoperability specifications (and patent licenses) only... Microsoft should be able to charge whatever it wants for its reference implementation.)

Re:Appropriate price? Zero Euros and redistributio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18855821)

Your assuming they dont have a "look at the source codes!!!! damn newb" policy on documentation. From i have heard about their documentations, and implementations, neither are any good as documentation of any form.

Re:Appropriate price? Zero Euros and redistributio (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856015)

What does that matter? If the documentation is the source code, and the EU requires MS to release documentation, that just means MS is required to release the source code (or write new (sufficient) documentation that it feels comfortable releasing).

Re:Appropriate price? Zero Euros and redistributio (1)

seriesrover (867969) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855855)

No, fair price does not mean equivalent price points - they are not the same product. Or lets turn it on its head - how about Free Software charging the same as MS ?

Re:Appropriate price? Zero Euros and redistributio (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856139)

What are you talking about? This discussion is about releasing documentation, not any kind of "product." I'm just making the point that allowing Microsoft to charge for its standards (turning a secret proprietary standard into a public -- but still proprietary -- one) doesn't do any good; the standards and documentation have to be royalty-free so that the documents and code can be redistributed within the Free Software community without each individual having to personally get permission from Microsoft first. To require such would cause those individuals to violate the GPL, among other things.

Re:Appropriate price? Zero Euros and redistributio (5, Insightful)

stevedcc (1000313) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855933)

Well, the US convicted Microsoft of being a monopolist, then did nothing about it. There's clearly a problem (I don't think we need to argue about that on Slashdot.) So, is it just the idea that the great all powerful US isn't doing it that some people find annoying? Or would you rather some other "superpower" like China, India or Russia ends up having to do it (in 15 or 20 years time).

Reality needs to be faced. Your government can't deal with the wayward MS business, the EU wants to deal with your problem for you. Isn't that nice of them?

EU Monopoly (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18855715)

When the EU makes Microsoft bundle a browser that people don't want and can't unbundle then it will have over stepped it bounds.

Till then if they kill Microsoft because microsoft was uncompetitive, unfreemarket, unAMERICAN.

More power to them.

Perhaps a better question... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18855729)

is at what point has Microsoft overstepped their bounds?

Whatever point you pick, I'll bet Microsoft has overstepped it! Face it; the EU wouldn't even be considering such actions if Microsoft had behaved as a decent corporate citizen.

Re:Perhaps a better question... (2, Funny)

ricree (969643) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856189)

Whatever point you pick, I'll bet Microsoft has overstepped it!
Hmm... I say that Microsoft has crossed the line when they spontaneously decide to give me a billion dollars.
/checks bank account
darn, looks like they haven't crossed that line yet

Maybe if I check again.....

Wrong (0, Flamebait)

PadRacerExtreme (1006033) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855743)

A government should never tell a private organization what it can charge for a product. Might as well just have the government own the business (since it is setting prices) which leads to communism!

Re:Wrong (0, Troll)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855819)

The EU isn't communist but it's by and large *very* socialist in nature so you're close to the mark.

Somehow given some of the economic problems the EU is facing (inflation, rampant unemployment, etc.)they are the *last* people who should be telling *anyone* how to run their business.

The only mechanism that should set prices is the market. No government should be involved in pricing, and that includes the US as well as the EU (here in the US various agricultural subsidies are used to provide this effect, such as keeping the prices of milk and sugar at certain levels).

Re:Wrong (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855975)

The only mechanism that should set prices is the market.

Great idea, I'm all for it! Are you willing to abolish copyrights and patents, and other government-granted monopolies (i.e., government interference in the market) to make that happen?

Re:Wrong (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856169)

Hey, HEY! Not *everyone* around here wanted this pathetic mess that is the European government. Some of us were very happy with the simple free trade agreements and a unified currency.

Re:Wrong (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855889)

So the electric company should just charge you whatever they feel like whenever they feel like it? Because, hey, if you don't like it you can always move.

Re:Wrong (1)

seriesrover (867969) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856161)

Not the same whatsoever - but if you insist, you shouldn't have moved there in the first if you didnt like the price. And if you want to go further in the analogy theres another form of electricty that is Free if I wish to choose it. But you're comparing buying a piece of software with a subscription to a electric service which has physical\geographic limitations.

Re:Wrong (1)

BlueTrin (683373) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855913)

You should see it as an attempt to reconciliate both parties, they could just say "you broke laws about monopoly therefore I declare your products illegal in the EU ..." or charge them an extravagant amount of money since they cannot enforce a split of the company.

Of course, it will never happen since because of the monopolistic situation about Microsoft, it is almost impossible to do work in many of the actual jobs nowadays without Microsoft tools.

You can speak about OpenOffice if you want, but, if you just take Excel as an example:
  • you would need to pay major retraining across your company, since Joe and Susan are still trying to find out where are the Pivot Tables (replace here anything which is quite specific about Microsoft), just a slight change in the interface causes nightmares to these users ...
  • Alot of the spreadsheets are using VBA and you would need to rewrite all of this
  • In my area, we are using alot of C++/C# addins used in Excel, I do not think we would be ready to rewrite all of this code or to even try to encapsulate it in another application


So whatever happens, the EU will never be too restrictive towards Microsoft.

Re:Wrong (1)

Odiumjunkie (926074) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855965)

I'm not sure if you're trolling or not, but I'll humour you.

Antitrust legislation and structures are designed to maintain a competitive market. In this case, the reasoning is that by limiting prices in a specific area, a monopolostic company is exposed to more competition, hopefully resulting in a situation where the market can once again set the prices of goods efficiently.

A market with no safegards and protections is _horrible_ at setting prices, worse even than governments. Monopolistic 'markets' set prices motivated by only one factor - maximum profits for firmse. This is not great for consumers.

Conversely, perfectly competitive markets set prices so that companies make zero economic profit. Basically, in a perfectly competitive market, labour and capital generate exactly the same level of economic profit in every industry.

So, sometimes it _is_ good for consumers if the government sets prices - if in doing so the government encourages a more competitive market later on.

Trade Wars (2, Informative)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855753)

The EU has been very heavy handed [google.com] recently using any and all trade laws to hurt tech companies. It would be nice to have one or two of them say "screw you" and pull out of the market. A EU without Apple, Hitachi, Toshiba or Microsoft?

Question on question on question (1)

remmelt (837671) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855843)

To hurt tech companies or to protect European consumers?

(Retort with: Or European companies?)

Re:Trade Wars (2, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855883)

Those tech companies would pull out if and only if the EU's punishment were worse than losing the EU market. For example, what would happen if MS stopped selling Windows in Europe? The entire continent would switch to Free Software almost instantly. I'll bet Microsoft is willing to put up with a Hell of a lot to prevent that from happening! And that's not just because of the lost sales directly, but also because it would prove to US businesses that Free Software is viable on a grand scale.

Re:Trade Wars (1)

tkinnun0 (756022) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856217)

For example, what would happen if MS stopped selling Windows in Europe?

Copies of Windows would be imported or simply pirated. Or was that a trick question?

Re:Trade Wars (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856221)

The entire continent would simply keep working on XP, while the black market for the now-illegal goods would be thriving in the span of a few months. THAT's what would happen. Prohibitionism, anyone? Besides, the day a gov't chooses what software I run is the day I become a MS fanboi.

Re:Trade Wars (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855985)

Microsoft has sold only 244 legitimate copies of Vista in China a while back. I think the figure is a bit higher in Europe.

The European market is worth pursuing and frankly I'm glad the EU is forcing MS to open its protocols so others can compete. Otherwise MS will have a stranglehold on the desktop forever without really deserving it other than the fact there are no other viable choices.

Re:Trade Wars (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856023)

EU without Apple:

A sad loss of one of only two "real" competitors to the Microsoft OS monopoly (the other, I would hazard, being the Free/OSS/Unix-y crowd all bundled together). Apple wouldn't want to risk it for the world.

EU without Hitachi:

So what? Plenty of other companies in and out of the EU that compete in all their product lines.

EU without Toshiba:

So what? Plenty of other companies in and out of the EU that compete in all their product lines.

EU without Microsoft:

That's what they are TRYING to do... or at least without the *current* Microsoft which has stifled the competition in the EU market.

You picked some wonderful examples. Microsoft is easily the largest company in that list, one that is actually being punished for monopolistic practices, and one in a marketspace that has no significant commercial competitors (talking about the home- and small-business-based OS market here). The EU would barely notice the absence of the other three companies mentioned, unless it were for Apple's iPod business.

None of the other companies have made a big deal of crying foul, or that they are being unfairly treated etc. and even if you scale up, MS is really the only one trying to look for sympathy.

Re:Trade Wars (1)

BlueTrin (683373) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856107)

I think that we would be doing fine without Hitachi and or Apple.

Besides that EU without Microsoft = Open Source or Apple will win over time.

Which bounds? (4, Insightful)

asninn (1071320) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855771)

Its bounds? The EU pretty cannot overstep its bounds - if Microsoft wants to do business here, they'll have to play by the rules, just like - and this is important - EVERYONE ELSE. If they're unwilling to do that (and I'm not saying "unable or unwilling" since it's pretty much impossible for them to really be unable), well... nobody's forcing them to do business here. There's no dog-given right to act like an arse, and our politicians haven't been bought out 100% yet (just 99%).

On a side note, it's really rather funny to see that all the hatred for Microsoft on Slashdot suddenly vanish as soon as it's Microsoft vs. the EU - then suddenly, defending a fellow US-American company suddenly seems to become more important than pointing out how much Microsoft as a convicted monopolist engaged in illegal anti-competitive tactics is hurting innovation/the industry/society.

Re:Which bounds? (1)

seriesrover (867969) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855987)

Oh for crying out loud - yes In Rome and all that but one is allowed to debate the wisdom of a super-government dictating product pricing of a private company. I don't defend MS at all costs but I do see that the way to "beat" MS is by producing a better product, not by overstepping in legislation.

Re:Which bounds? (1)

radarjd (931774) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856239)

one is allowed to debate the wisdom of a super-government dictating product pricing of a private company

I agree with that. On the other hand, EU is its own sovereign. I do not come under its jurisdiction (unless I visit), so my opinion does not and should not have the force of a citizen (and voter) living under its laws. I feel much more justified complaining or defending US policy, as I'm a citizen.

That said, I think the EU needs to stop threatening and start doing -- whatever it does decide to do...

Re:Which bounds? (3, Insightful)

HoosierPeschke (887362) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856049)

On a side note, it's really rather funny to see that all the hatred for Microsoft on Slashdot suddenly vanish as soon as it's Microsoft vs. the EU - then suddenly, defending a fellow US-American company suddenly seems to become more important than pointing out how much Microsoft as a convicted monopolist engaged in illegal anti-competitive tactics is hurting innovation/the industry/society.


Not all of us, I'm glad someone isn't putting up with MS's crap.

Re:Which bounds? (5, Insightful)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856079)

Well, speaking as an American, I'm glad the EU is spanking Microsoft, since our government is so completely bought and paid for by corporate interests that there is no longer any meaningful regulation of anticompetitive behavior here. In any event, I don't view Microsoft as an American company in any meaningful sense. If a foreign power had damaged US productivity and parasitically drained off as much capital from US businesses as Microsoft has, it would be construed as an act of war. Microsoft helps America only in the sense that it helps itself to lots of American money it could not access if American regulators still gave a shit about competition.

As far as I'm concerned, the EU hasn't gone far enough. But to be fair, and to avoid attributing to EU regulators a moral high ground they don't in fact possess, I have my doubts that the EU would have gone as far as it has if Microsoft was a European company. On the other hand, it's questionable whether, say, French agricultural subsidies affect nearly as many people as Windows.

Re:Which bounds? (2, Insightful)

ak3ldama (554026) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856173)

Well put. I hope that the EU goes farther. I also hope they set an example for how to deal with such a powerful, and at times morally bankrupt, company as Microsoft. Challenging the validity and usefulness of their patents is a step in the right direction.

I'm No Great Fan Of MS... (1, Insightful)

Real World Stuff (561780) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855795)

But c'mon. Clarity and lack of prejudice need to be the driving force for communication in this matter. Levels of bureaucracies only stymie potential resolution.

Government interference (1)

seriesrover (867969) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855797)

You know, the more governments interfere on how a private company should price its products the more worrying it is to me. Rules and regulations are one thing on how a company should conduct itself, but a company should be able to price its product as it damn well pleases. If people don't think its value for money then they can go elsewhere and look at the competition - thats what a free market is all about.

Re:Government interference (4, Insightful)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855893)

Yes, unless it has a monopoly, at which point it's subject to intense regulation.

Re:Government interference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18855907)

...thats what a free market is all about

We are talking about Microsoft the CONVICTED MONOPOLIST, so what does
the free market have to do with it?

only four? (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855825)

so the article concludes: "only four may only deserve to claim a limited degree of innovation." man... if only BetaNews only had an editor. I'm sure it would only cost only a minimal amount per article if only.

Well beyond their boundaries (2, Interesting)

gravesb (967413) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855827)

The EU has already pushed too far. I personally refuse to use MS products, so I'm not a MS fan, but the EU has gone too far in interfering with the market. Yes, the US has gone too far in "promoting" innovation through patents, but the EU has swung too far the other way. Besides, if you won't allow software patents (which I am against), then you should allow software to be a trade secret. If you are concerned about the monopoly, how about all governments use an open standard for all government business? Then, companies that want to do business with the government will switch, and things will cascade down. Governments have enough power as market actors, as opposed to market regulators, to affect things without being so heavy handed.

Re:Well beyond their boundaries (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856135)

The EU isn't asking for the software to be opened, merely the protocols. It's not too much to ask for a company convicted of abusing its monopoly position.

Where does... (2, Funny)

s31523 (926314) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855831)

Where does a 500 pound gorilla sit? Anywhere she wants, except in the 600 pound gorilla's seat.

I don't know who is the 600 pound gorilla in this case, but it sure is interesting to see a case where M$ doesn't just walk all over someone and is actually being bullied back....

I wish they were this aggressive on medicine (3, Insightful)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855837)

The EU has stated the Microsoft should charge based on 'innovation, not patentability'... The EU is also starting to discuss structural remedies as opposed to the behavioral remedies they are currently enforcing.


Imagine if the EU dumped its focus on trivial crap like software patents and applied the same reasoning to medicine patents.

Re:I wish they were this aggressive on medicine (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856007)

Imagine if the EU dumped its focus on trivial crap like software patents and applied the same reasoning to medicine patents.

Imagine if everybody dumped their focus on (name over-emphasized thing here) and applied the same amount of energy to disease, poverty, war, etc.

In the words of the Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18855861)


if you don't like the way things are done [in the EU] then take your ball and leave, you are welcome to practice monopoly in USA

and the snide remark about the EU overstepping its bounds, its "bounds" are to make business "free and fair"
they are not doing this for fun or to "stick it to the US" they are doing it because many companies/individuals have complained and so they acting on this to bring about a level "competitive" playing field

the last comment on the article really says it all
In 2000, US District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ordered Microsoft to be broken up into two companies, but the decision was thrown out by an appeals court in June 2001, and Jackson was removed from the case. The US Department of Justice later dropped its efforts to split up Microsoft.

remember if you go against big business in USA and find in favour of the little guy you will be fired (see Alberto Gonzo and 8 judges for a recent example)

It's about rent (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855899)

Namely, renting access to your own data.

In other words, how much should customers have to pay to get at their own data, which happens to reside on Microsoft products?

Lets take MS's argument seriously for a moment, to see where that leads us.

Suppose there is software A, which holds the data, and software B, which accesses the data. How much does MS charge for that A-B interface? There are two possible answers to this. First, they charge 0. Then everybody should pay zero. The second possible answer is that the cost of the A-B interface is part of the cost of A,B, or both.

In that case, they are illegally bundling it, forcing users to buy access to the other product when they buy A or B, but not allow customers to use it to access competitive software. They should unbundle the interface and show that all three components are priced competitively and independently.

Whatever the piece of innovation that MS feels it should be compensated for, customers should be able to buy it without having to buy other MS products.

It certainly hasn't overstepped its bounds yet (3, Interesting)

simm1701 (835424) | more than 6 years ago | (#18855915)

What point could it?

Well if it bankrupted the company then yes that would be too far certainly. If it made it so the company when complying with the law (ie not being fined) could not actualy make a profit after costs, that would be too far.

Many prices are restricted by goverments - I suspect even in the US though I don't know for certain. Things like the cost per unit of electricity, water, gas, telecoms, public transport when run by private companies. These are to ensure that companies that have effective monopolies cannot abuse the position.

Same with mircosoft. I agree they should be able to charge what they want for their software. But where they have a protocol or an API that completely separate instance of software talk to (eg from a different computer on the network of from a piece of software that is not part of the OS, or not part of the same software suite) then those interfaces, protocols and APIs should be documented and the information provided for free.

Yes they can protect their code and their implementations, but the fact you have a microsoft server should not force you to have a microsoft desktop in order to use it - other desktop made by others should be able to communicate on the same level. And vice versa, it should be perfectly possible, from complete and freely available documentation to implement a server that will behave from a clients point of view in the same way a microsoft server would. This is simply fair competition.

Microsoft would then have to get by on the merits of it software, rather than on vendor lock in.

Re:It certainly hasn't overstepped its bounds yet (1)

Lacota (695046) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856101)

"Well if it bankrupted the company then yes that would be too far certainly. If it made it so the company when complying with the law (ie not being fined) could not actualy make a profit after costs, that would be too far." What if the practice itself is illigal? Say drug dealing? Certainly a drug dealer will be bankrupt should the police catch im and throw him in prison?

At what point would the EU overstep its bounds? (3, Insightful)

delirium of disorder (701392) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856005)

Microsoft has hurt the global economy to the tune of billions of dollars in lost productivity because of security vulnerabilities, unstable software, and proprietary formats. All the while better alternatives have existed but legal and marketing efforts by Microsoft have kept them out of the public's hands. Bill Gates has used his ill gotten wealth to push patented drugs on Africa which has probably lead to massive death since generic drugs could be mass produced much more easily. The Gates foundation has also funded The Discovery Institute, the main group preaching intelligent design lies. If the EU were to imprison all present and past members of the board of directors and executives of MS and seized all of Microsoft's wealth, they would not be going overboard. They would help millions of people and control a known industrial menace. Perhaps a nuclear attack on Redmond would be going to far, but I'm not sure.

Re:At what point would the EU overstep its bounds? (0, Troll)

DrDitto (962751) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856219)

Attributing Microsoft to massive death in Africa and supporting the nuclear attack on Redmond is an example why nobody will take you or your like-minded peers seriously. Ever.

Overstepping their bounds? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856105)

We're talking about a sovereign body here. These guys set the rules *AND* the bounds. If their ultimate remedy is to dump Microsoft entirely, then so be it. The opposite end of that spectrum is to do virtually nothing like the U.S. did. Somewhere in the middle would be to stipulate rules for their behavior as a condition of continued participation in their marketplace. They make the rules. They set the bounds. I don't think "overstepping their bounds" is even possible.

Oh for goodness sake (3, Interesting)

samael (12612) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856127)

The EU should just tell MS how much they can charge and get on with it. Why the pointless back and forth?

The hell with it - MS should have to open them for free. In fact, I'd be in favour of mandating that _all_ protocols should be open. You don't need to open your implementation, but other people should be able to use your protocols.

MS are playing it wrong (2, Interesting)

Bert the Turtle (1073828) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856175)

It may well be the case that Microsoft are being forced to under-charge for these protocols - but the fact is they have been found guilty of anti-competitive behaviour by the EU. Now, rather than pay the fine and be apologetic, even after trying to lie and bully their way to not being found guilty, they continue to try and lie and bully. Remember the "ooh, well, maybe we'll just pull out of the EU" threat they tried? So they lie, cheat, and bully, and suddenly expect the EU to sit down and give them a fair hearing now? Sorry, but the individuals involved in the case have been prejudiced against microsoft because of microsoft's previous dishonest behaviour. So is the price fair on the protocols? It doesn't matter. The EU is going to make Microsoft pay for abusing its position, an pay DEARLY for trying to avoid the initial fines and trying to bully their way to success. The EU isn't the US - we aren't just going to vote in the Republicans to make it all go away.

Overstepping Bounds (3, Insightful)

Myddrin (54596) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856183)

As others have pointed out, the cost of doing business in the EU is being regulated by the EU. That's life and if the fines/interference/etc is too onerous, Microsoft is free to abandon that market and concentrate on the US, Africa, Asia/Pacific Rim.

Personally, I'd love to see such a move coming from Redmond. It would accelerate adoption of non-Microsoft solutions in Europe. The resulting ripple effects would have some nice benefits for those of us developing stateside. :)

Re:Overstepping Bounds (2, Informative)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856245)

That is probably exactly the reason why Microsoft doesn't pull out of Europe. Their biggest fear would come true: Linux would become mainstream. Ack!

I'm fucking tired of United Statians (2, Insightful)

miscz (888242) | more than 6 years ago | (#18856211)

I don't know how many times I saw this discussion. Every time US citizens see this as a direct attack on their country. Every time there are links posted to examples that european companies are fined in the same way and that they comply to the terms of EU. Every time there are posters that think it's an attack on a free market. There's no such thing as free market in any country and I don't know if anybody knows any benefits of monopolies in any kind of market.
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