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Microsoft Loses EU Anti-Trust Appeal

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the sucks-to-be-them dept.

Windows 322

Kugrian writes "Microsoft has lost its appeal against a record 497m euro (£343m; $690m) fine imposed by the European Commission in a long-running competition dispute. The European Court of First Instance upheld the ruling that Microsoft had abused its dominant market position."

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322 comments

This isn't justice: too little, too late (5, Insightful)

jafoc (1151405) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634591)

While the Free Software Foundation Europe [fsfeurope.org] (FSFE) which fought for this long and hard can justifiedly rejoice (FSFE press release [fsfeurope.org] ), overall, I'm still very unhappy about the state of antitrust "justice".

The biggest problem is that it took 10 years to get to this point, and Microsoft still hasn't disclosed the specs for how to make interoperable products. We're fortunate that the Free Software way of doing things is rebost enough to survive in spite of this, but profit-oriented companies simply can't hold out long enough for this kind of legal system to really help.

What we need is clear legal rules that vendors with dominant market positions must adhere to genuinely open standards for all protocols and document formats, and of course we also need a genuinely non-corrupt standardization organization [openiso.org] Microsoft doesn't sell us something as an "open standard" which really isn't.

Re:This isn't justice: too little, too late (1)

Bob Gelumph (715872) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634661)

The problem with this idea for policy is defining the point at which a company becomes dominant and what happens if they get there with closed proprietary systems that are not anti-competitive in nature when they are created. I agree that companies should have a responsibility to society and should desist from anti-competitive practices... I just don't think it is always so clear-cut.

Re:This isn't justice: too little, too late (4, Insightful)

jkrise (535370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634761)

The problem with this idea for policy is defining the point at which a company becomes dominant and what happens if they get there with closed proprietary systems that are not anti-competitive in nature when they are created...

There is no problem even in that case. There are close to a billion computers right now; and Microsoft software runs on well over 80% of them all. So what if they weren't a monopoly 20 years ago? The protocols in use RIGHT NOW must be open for public access.

By any yardstick, it is very clear that Microsoft IS A MONOPLY in the massive worlwide PC market.

Re:This isn't justice: too little, too late (4, Interesting)

gravos (912628) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634693)

Good points all around.

Though I do wonder what level of fine it would take for Microsoft to really change it's way of doing things instead of just making whatever paltry change the regulatory body required (like selling a version of Windows that probably no one is going to buy without IE bundled in).

I wonder because even after some pretty hefty fines in the past they seem to have changed direction very little as a company.

Re:This isn't justice: too little, too late (3, Insightful)

spectre_be (664735) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634787)

Finally, justice one could say.
But the big winner is still microsoft of course, no way the fine undoes the years taking advantage.
I guess the software / IT market is still growing up slowly / steadily & things like this were bound to happen.
Let's hope it never has to come to that again.

Re:This isn't justice: too little, too late (2, Interesting)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634875)

The biggest problem is that it took 10 years to get to this point, and Microsoft still hasn't disclosed the specs for how to make interoperable products.

Maybe it won't matter a lot in another 10. Microsoft has abandoned its own back compat with Vista in many places and the businesses are denying Vista transition.

In fact I've been in contact and read/heard plenty of opinions of private users, small and big businesses, government employees and they all don't want anything to do with Vista (which is increasingly hard given many vendors do NOT offer non-Vista machines, forcing businesses to purchase standalone XP licenses or use second hand hardware).

More amusing are the comparisons I've heard about how fast Vista is: "slow as a dying dog", "as a overweight grandma on a treadmill", "turtle on vicodin", "turtle dipped in mud climbing uphills"...

Microsoft's own software (Office 2003, VS 2005, etc.) isn't compatible with their own OS right now.

Microsoft's a mess, and honestly, I do believe the EU lawsuit is a fiasco and not what we needed. What good is it they fined them nearly a billion. Will this help us somehow.

I honestly would rather prefer they sued them for delivering unstable, incompatible, and a resource hog of an OS, and maybe even sue the hardware vendors for not consistently offering XP as an option across the range (wee see some half hearted attempts here and there, such as Dell offering XP to businesses, and not to consumers).

This is a really pressing problem for millions of people worldwide. The vague problem of them including Media Player in Windows isn't that big, turns out (seeing that most sites use Flash / MP4 QuickTime for video anyway).

I mean, they compete with their own Media Player, by introducing Silverlight. If it stiffled competition so much, what sense does it make competing with your own player. Apparently EU sees things oversimplified.

Furthermore, MS would rather

pay

than lose their monopoly, and as a result, they will now have less money to put into proper development and thus indirectly stifle Microsoft's ability to put proper investment on bringing timely SP-s to Vista and XP (they got cash, but not so much cash that 700 million go unnoticed in their budget).

All in all, whether you think it's too little too late, or like me, you think it's the wrong "victory" to begin with, nothing to cheer for in this decision of the EU court. Just more crap that will hit the fan.

Re: This isn't justice: too little, too late (2, Interesting)

Dolda2000 (759023) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635115)

What good is it they fined them nearly a billion. Will this help us somehow.
(To begin with, let me tell you about a friend of mine: Mr. Question Mark [penny-arcade.com] . He's happy to help whenever you have a sentence phrased like a question.)

However, maybe it is good that they fined them nearly a billion. I, too, doubt that that alone will make much of a dent in Microsoft's budget, but maybe it sets a precedent, and other nations may start doing the same. South Korea, for instance, springs to mind. One billion dollar fine might not make much, but if a large enough number other nations start fining Microsoft for anti-trust violations, they might have to do something real about it. Even if these nations are just out for the money, they still need some legal pretext in order to act, so if Microsoft will wish to avoid it, they might actually have to comply with the law or retract from business in those nations.

I know I might just be overly optimistic, but one must keep one's hopes up, right?

Either way, I'm much more optimistic about the "sharing of server protocols" part of the judgment. It would be great being able to use Samba as an AD controller.

Re: This isn't justice: too little, too late (0, Flamebait)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635219)

Either way, I'm much more optimistic about the "sharing of server protocols" part of the judgment. It would be great being able to use Samba as an AD controller.

I didn't know that "it would be great" represents a valid reason to sue anyone. It'd be great to have free ice-cream, so do I sue the ice-cream manufacturers?

The matter of fact is, Microsoft's tactics to create greater lock-in effect have started playing against themselves. Open standards gain popularity that make their own incompatible solution irrelevant. The irony.

To begin with, let me tell you about a friend of mine: Mr. Question Mark [penny-arcade.com]. He's happy to help whenever you have a sentence phrased like a question.

Let me tell you about a friend of mine: Mr. Don't Patronize Me B*tch.

Those were rhetorical questions and I chose to use full stop, as it better represented my intended tone, never mind what I could have used. I hope you manage to sustain your being without spilling internal organs all over your room, while reading how I dare fight Mr. Question Mark.

Oh, and no hard feelings...

Re:This isn't justice: too little, too late (3, Interesting)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635283)

and maybe even sue the hardware vendors for not consistently offering XP as an option across the range
As if offering Microsoft Windows XP across the board blunts the monopoly. In freer countries, one can walk into a random computer store and buy notebook computers without any Microsoft at all (and I have the store datasheets in hand to prove it), but not in San Jose, California. There's a reason for that beyond simple supply and demand economics.

Re:This isn't justice: too little, too late (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635205)

Another problem is that Microsoft makes so much money per year that 497 million could easily be paid off in one lump-sum payment. It's akin to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell fining the New England Patriots US$750,000 for that recent illegal videotaping scandal--a drop in the bucket in terms of impact.

Wait... (1)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635263)

Wait, I thought there were alternative OS's capable of kicking MS butt. I thought it was just blazing on replacing Windows? Or, is it?

Re:This isn't justice: too little, too late (1)

pieterh (196118) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635271)

Before we all rejoice, consider that (a) Microsoft can, and will appeal, delaying any verdict by another three years (b) the fines amount to about one month of net profits, (c) Microsoft is building a new franchise strategy based on software patents that makes this ruling irrelevant. I predict MSFT's share price will wobble and then climb as this sinks in.

It's very simple - you pay about USD$8 to distribute a print server [microsoft.com] , or you are violating MS's patents and liable to be sued.

The largest monopolist in history has faced down the largest economy in history, and won. It was the delay that mattered; during those six years, software patents have changed the rules. Patents trump anti-trust law (a cartel deal that would result in 20 years jail for the execs that signed it becomes legal when a single patent is added to the mix). Microsoft is using this to trump whatever the EU does.

We are very close to seeing the FOSS world split into two, one half owned by Microsoft and acting as a franchisee, and the other half operating in increasing 'illegality'. The only real competition to Microsoft's global monopoly in one of the most vital of industries is the FOSS economy, and it's the patent threat that the EU should have been looking at, not the out-of-date issue of documentation and bundling.

Please consider joining the global fight against software patents - join the FFII [ffii.org] , start a national chapter, and get involved. Only the community is able to defend itself against Microsoft, our politicians and courts are totally out-manoevered.

Least important part of the judgement... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20634593)

...given the size of MS coffers.

Of more significance is the fact that MS will be forced to release more code to allow competitors to compete on a level playing field with MS applications...

Re:Least important part of the judgement... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20634781)

I'm sorry, but 500 million Euro is a lot of money no matter who you are. Certainly it won't break them, but it's not like they'll never miss it.

Re:Least important part of the judgement... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20634823)

Of more significance is the fact that MS will be forced to release more code
No.

Not code, but specifications.

Code is no good ... Microsoft has a copyright on its code. What is needed and desired is the protocol specifications, so that alternative implementations can be independently code by other parties.

Re:Least important part of the judgement... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20634839)

Quit with the "Oh (noes|yay), they have to release source" disinformation. They have to release specs, not source code. Of course, good specs might very well include sample code, but that's not an actual requirement.

Re: Least important part of the judgement... (3, Informative)

Dolda2000 (759023) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634879)

Note, though, that it isn't actually code that they have been ordered to release, but rather protocol specifications. Which is, of course, what everyone wants. No article I've read on the subject so far has made any mention of how the specifications need to be licensed, however. If anyone is in the know, please share that information.

Please queue the anti EU replies here (0, Flamebait)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634599)

From TFA:

The EU is making an example of a strong US company - that's all it is -- Kenneth Macbeth
Obviously the EU hates your freedom...

Re:Please queue the anti EU replies here (5, Informative)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634691)

Won't queue anything here. Anyone who knows a bit about the EU, know that this is bollocks. They go after anyone abusing the market. As Volkswagen [wsj.com] , for example... Not a US company at all...

Microsoft lost its appeal? (5, Funny)

petercruickshank (1132185) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634605)

I think Microsoft lost its appeal a long time ago...

Re:Microsoft lost its appeal? (0, Flamebait)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635331)

I think Microsoft lost its appeal a long time ago...
You realize that by this you basically state that once upon a time M$ gave you a stiffy.

This very sharp deduction of mine (and which I own) [youtube.com] is merely in Slashdot's spirit of scientific approach to matters and challenging theories by that.

A Pittance of a Fine..... (1)

secondhand_Buddah (906643) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634607)

Microsoft earns more than US$ 1 Billion per month, so this fine is really not much of a deterrant to them.

Re:A Pittance of a Fine..... (5, Informative)

zebslash (1107957) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634687)

The problem for them is not the fine, but instead, from now on, the compliance to the ruling, which will lead them to change the content of Windows software, the parts they will be able to install on new computers. That's a lot more important than money.
Don't forget the ruling is 152-page long, and therefore, they will have to digest and comply with all the court orders to avoid paying even more fine. That may be difficult for them in a market that becomes more competitive.

Re:A Pittance of a Fine..... (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634941)

The fine is a percentage of worldwide revenue. Even one fine can make a considerable difference, because it is calculated to be comparable with the average operating margins for large businesses. IT usually has these slightly higher than most other industries so a company can sustain one fine. One more for let's say Vista's DRM and lock-out of 3rd party security apps and Microsoft balance sheet will go into red colour numbers.

Haha tag? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20634609)

Why no haha tag?

After all - if M$ had paid the fine straight up (prior to the collapse of the US dollar), they'd only have paid 1/2 a mill.

Damages, but sanctions? (2, Insightful)

WPIDalamar (122110) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634613)

So $690 million is nice for damages, but without a monitor, will any of the sanctions stick?

I mean $690 million is almost a rounding error at Microsoft.

Re:Damages, but sanctions? (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634681)

So $690 million is nice for damages, but without a monitor ...

Has Microsoft started bundling monitors and keyboards with their OSes?

Jus' kidding!!

Re:Damages, but sanctions? (5, Informative)

sepluv (641107) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634773)

The fines will increase (exponentially I believe) until they pay. The court can freeze and seize their European assets and they have much of their money within the EU in Ireland as a US tax dodge. Also, the EU is by far MS's largest market. Not complying would be a BAD idea.

BTW, the legal detail is over at Groklaw [groklaw.net] (basically the court sided with the EC except a minor point about the EC giving too much power to the MS appointed monitoring trustee) and there is a joint FSFE/Samba press release [fsfeurope.org] . Also, the the court published the full judgement and other court docs [europa.eu] .

Re:Damages, but sanctions? (1)

debrain (29228) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635251)

The fines will increase (exponentially I believe) until they pay. The court can freeze and seize their European assets and they have much of their money within the EU in Ireland as a US tax dodge. Also, the EU is by far MS's largest market. Not complying would be a BAD idea.

Typically there is pre-judgment interest (say, around 4%), and post-judgment interest (say, around 8%) on the judgment.

The court can seize assets as well, but typically in extreme circumstances, for example if there is a risk of flight. It is unlikely here, even if Microsoft flaunts the order. In that case the company could be held in contempt and risk an entirely new judgment. Court-ordered seizure is unlikely given the size and apparent permanence of the Microsoft company, and that it is publicly traded on a stock exchange which would almost certainly recognize foreign judgments of the EU.

Re:Damages, but sanctions? (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635095)

They can have the monitor, they just cannot force Microsoft to pay the costs of the monitor.

sheeeit. (-1, Offtopic)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634625)

oh sheeeit, my gf is right. getting sympathy out of me really is like getting blood out of a stone.

did anybody actually *see* a copy of Windows XP(N)? I never did.

(Mind you I run only 'nix so I did not try too hard to find it. But it was never on the shelves of any store I went into.)

Re:sheeeit. (1)

Simias (953970) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634701)

I saw a couple in a store here in france, next to the "normal" ones at the same price.
I wondered if someone would actually buy it, if not by mistake.

Re:sheeeit. (3, Insightful)

nutshell42 (557890) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634719)

The idea was to create a level playing field for MS, Apple, Real and others to convince OEMs to include their media player.

Just like the browser wars any competing media player had to fight against one that was installed on just about every PC anyway. An advantage MS used to sell their WM tech. Unfortunately as somebody already pointed out, it was too little, too late and more of a symbolic gesture. Other parts of the ruling (documenting the APIs) were more important.

XP(N) was just a side effect that MS milked for propaganda purposes (Look at those stupid eurocrats! Noone wants a crippled Windows, they just want to punish a successful company, stupid socialist French, yaddayadda)

Re:sheeeit. (1)

DMiax (915735) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634897)

But it was never on the shelves of any store I went into
Yes there was, it was inside those strange boxes they call computers...

Go Samba (4, Interesting)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634637)

The Court of First Instance's judgement, like the commission's before it, sees Samba as the means for competition, in the Work group server space (i.e. file servers, print servers, etc). All potential competitors to Microsoft are using Samba, (the commissions own research found that 98% of competing products in this space use Samba), so it is good that the commission and the CFI are keen to get the documentation from Microsoft in a form that open source projects such as samba can use.

P.S. Shamless plug, I ranted a lot about this on my own site [commandline.org.uk]

Re:Go Samba (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20634751)

Let's just hope that Microsoft doesn't decide to get a little medieval (or litigious) and throw up a bunch of lawsuits to stop Samba's blatant infringement (assuming you think software patents are worth the paper they're printed on). Not that they would win -- they wouldn't have to. But it would sure make all those corp customers uneasy for the several years that the courts deal with it.

Re:Go Samba (1)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634899)

Software patents aren't valid in Europe. Any idea where most Samba devs are based? I have no idea, just wondering.

Re:Go Samba (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20634947)

Let's just hope that Microsoft doesn't decide to get a little medieval (or litigious) and throw up a bunch of lawsuits to stop Samba's blatant infringement
Where do people get stupid ideas like that from?

Microsoft networking is an obscured version of the SMB protocol. SMB is IBM's invention, not Microsoft's.

Microsoft obscured IBM's SMB protocol into Windows networking after Microsoft had gained a dominant market share. Microsoft has no patent about that obscuration ... because in order to get a patent one must reveal how an invention works.

Samba infringes nothing. Samba is just another implementation of IBM's SMB protocol, obscured in the same trade-secret way that Microsoft obscured it. It is perfectly legal (and in no way infringing anything) to reverse engineer a trade secret.

Patents clearly do not, and cannot apply here.

Re:Go Samba (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20635121)

it doesn't matter if patents apply to SMB or even the new SMB 2.0 stuff -- it matters if they can pursue a case with a sympathetic judge, and generate lots of publicity, thereby scaring customers. one can argue (convincingly) that all software patents are wortheless -- that's moot in the court of public (and customer) opinion.

Re:Go Samba (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634815)

The Court of First Instance's judgement, like the commission's before it, sees Samba as the means for competition, in the Work group server space (i.e. file servers, print servers, etc). All potential competitors to Microsoft are using Samba, (the commissions own research found that 98% of competing products in this space use Samba), so it is good that the commission and the CFI are keen to get the documentation from Microsoft in a form that open source projects such as samba can use.

We get it. But how will it affect Samba?

Thanks, EU (0, Troll)

kevmatic (1133523) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634671)

For punishing Microsoft's customers. Now they get to justify their high prices and might even raise them, to pay off this fine.
If the EU thinks that this will impact the checkbook of anybody on Microsoft's payroll, or even of their investors, they're insane.

Next time, punish the company, not the company's clients.

Re:Thanks, EU (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634841)

Next time, punish the company, not the company's clients.
Sadly the EU has very little power to do this as those who really run MS are in the USA under the protection of a friendly governement.

Re:Thanks, EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20634917)

The fine is a piddly little amount of cash to a company the size of Microsoft. The fine isn't the point. The point is that the ruling also upholds the requirement that Microsoft provide documentation for protocols and file-formats that will allow competitors to interoperate with Microsoft products.

While we're on the subject, if you're a Microsoft customer and they raise prices on you: that's what happens when a company gains a monopoly on the market. If you had real choice, you'd be able to change to a different company and pay less.

Court's press realease (5, Informative)

zombie_monkey (1036404) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634675)

http://curia.europa.eu/en/actu/communiques/cp07/aff/cp070063en.pdf [europa.eu]

They have not yet paid another fine that was imposed on them for not paying this fine, as the BBC article mentions, although in no great depth:

Last year, Microsoft was told to pay daily fines adding up to 280.5 million euros over a six-month period, after it failed to adhere to the 2004 decision.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4552214.stm [bbc.co.uk] - another BBC piece specifically about the daily fines. Does anyone know if they've paid them or not by now?

Re:Court's press realease (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20634733)

obviously not >.>,
But a 3 years old daily fine?
I think that THIS can be a real threat to their wealth not the punny fine....
I wonder how they'll even pass the month that way....
(I mean 250 * 365 * 3 = 2 700 000, adn that's if the fine was 250bucks a day)
Now how much times can you finance the Common Agricultural Policy with that?

captcha : stable

It's not about fines, it's about Samba and freesw (4, Interesting)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634685)

Ignore the fines, they're nothing.

The important thing is that when MS eventually publish their specs, they will not be allowed exclude free software from using them.

This is what FSFE and Samba have been working for since 2001, not fines.

http://fsfeurope.org/projects/ms-vs-eu/ [fsfeurope.org]

Re:It's not about fines, it's about Samba and free (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634895)

The ever-increasing push of products like Sharepoint means that I can realistically see Samba fileservers becoming less relevant as more company files are shared through such technology.

IOW, Microsoft will publish full specifications - just as soon as they're sure that doing so wouldn't cause anyone to choose Samba over Windows for a fileserver because hardly anyone's setting up a Windows box as a straight fileserver any more.

who cares.., (1)

waity (1116951) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634689)

much as I love to MS-Bash (I'm a Linux using /. reader after all ;-) ).

Why does bundling apps cause a problem (putting aside, usability, bugs exploits, etc.)? Every MS machine I've used quickly had firefox installed.

to use the much abused car-computer analogy, every car comes with a bundled CD player etc. anyone heard about Sony suing Nissan for providing cars with a competitive player? nope, me neither...

my 2p...

Re:who cares.., (3, Funny)

Aim Here (765712) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634707)

"Every MS machine I've used quickly had firefox installed."

How many had IE uninstalled?

Re:who cares.., (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20634789)

Ok, so let's force them to uninstall IE.

Jimmy Noobus buys a new Windows PC because he likes playing games and most of the software he's paid for works on it. Jimmy Noobus unpacks it, sets it up, and turns it on. Jimmy Noobus wants to access the internet............doh!

Re:who cares.., (1)

Aim Here (765712) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635061)

Except that the point of the unbundling thing is so that it would be reasonable for OEM's (or even Microsoft, if it felt like it) to bundle windows with netscape or opera or Mosaic or whatever instead, back before Microsoft destroyed the commercial browser market. The whole purpose of Microsoft bundling IE for free with every Windows computer (and making it impossible to uninstall) was to destroy Netscape by forcing everyone to have an equivalent product to Netscape's already installed on their desktop, whether they liked it or not.

The fact that IE was free came as a big shock to everyone, even to the guys who made it and sold it to Microsoft; Microsoft fucked those guys over by offering them a royalty on sales of the browser, which was $0.

Re:who cares.., (1)

deftcoder (1090261) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634739)

anyone heard about Sony suing Nissan for providing cars with a competitive player?
Exactly. The whole 'bundling' deal lead to them having a monopoly on pretty much everything desktop-related (internet browsing, media players, etc.) because there WAS no competition. OEMs weren't allowed to bundle additional software with Windows, or they'd lose their licenses to sell Windows entirely. Hence the original fines and anti-trust accusations.

Network effects.... (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634833)

The problem with bundling is that the vast majority of Windows users are non-technical mom-and-pop types. They use what comes with the machine and rarely install something new - they are usually even unaware that they have options. This leads to network effects where Microsoft software becomes the defacto standard simply through being first on the computer.

Re:who cares.., (4, Informative)

headkase (533448) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634919)

As for a CD player "bundled" with a car, CD's follow an ISO standard so with all manufacturers following a standard the consumer is completely free to replace the player with another from a different supplier. This means that competition is unhindered so the market can work as intended - the case of providing a CD player with a car is a matter of convenience for the customer not an anticompetitive act.

Re:who cares.., (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20635313)

A closer analogy would be that other manufacturers were able to make add-on CD players, but there would be no wiring provided to connect them to the car, and the original car manufacturer's one was:

a) in the most convenient position, and
b) couldn't be removed

Furthermore, as other manufacturers found clever different places to put their CD player, each new year's car model would have a modification to the dashboard to make putting a CD player there impossible.

And later on we would have things like the stereo speaker leads detecting a new player in the car and refusing to carry a signal.....

Re:who cares.., (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634925)

Antitrust legislation is about stopping people using a monopoly or near monopoly position in one market as a lever to gain one in another market.

Since ford doesn't have a monopoly or near monopoly they aren't affected by antitrust legislation.

What about Apple? (1)

Pap22 (1054324) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635301)

Does Apply not bundle a media player with OSX? Do they not bundle a browser? Are they open to 3rd parties asking them to bundle their competiting products with OSX? Of course not. Why is Apple the darling of the tech world and Microsoft the beast, when I observe Apple doing the same anti-competitive practices (e.g. iTunes + iPod = iProfit).

Disclaimer: I use WinXP but am switching to Ubuntu next month. I am also an economics major so I sympathize with companies who try to make money.

legislating market share? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20634699)

The facts of the case are old news, esp. media player bundling. What is new -- and alarming for anything potentially innovative or disruptive -- is Neelie Kroes (EU competition czar) saying that the desired outcome is for Microsoft to have 50% market share (or at least a significant reduction). That's putting the cart before the horse. What if Microsoft went open source and released a Vista UI based on a linux kernel -- would the EU still want Microsoft to have 50% market share and keep punishing them if they didn't?

Quibble all you want about the merits of the law, the fines, today's decision, etc. (or don't) -- that's the right kind of discussion to have. It's when they show that their real goal is a desired outcome, regardless of the means, that I get upset as an entrepreneur.

Re:legislating market share? (5, Insightful)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634775)

It a mainstay of classic economic thought that competition is good and monopolies are bad, the classical definition of monopoly was actually 25%. The problem with having companies have more than that is that they start to wield control over the rest, their size allows them to game access to customers and suppliers.

You argument seems to stem from the misbelief that Operating System software is a competitive market and that Microsoft got to 90% by competing fairly. If so then you would be very wrong.

If you read today's judgement [europa.eu] , you will see that Microsoft has regularly abused its' position by bundling, threats, bribes, agreements with OEMs and so on.

Operating Systems is not a competitive market at all, if you use Linux then you will know that the biggest problem is not Windows itself but the fact that it is so dominant. As soon as you use Linux you find that shops, ISPs, firms, manufacturers and so on treat you as a second class citizen. This needs to be broken for the social good.

Re:legislating market share? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20634927)

I use linux at home and work, and I don't have an inferiority complex.

I do think it's strange that the EU commissioner would say "our goal is for Microsoft to have 50% market share" instead of saying "our goal is open competition". That's like Bush saying "our goal is for no one faction to have 50% of the Iraqi parliament" vs. saying "our goal is a free and open election."

If they keep focusing on the ends, not the means, there's no telling where it will end. Will EU citizens be fined for buying Microsoft software? What happens when Red Hat gets 50% in a country's server market... will the local anti-competition authorities start focusing on reduced market share targets?

Re:legislating market share? (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635087)

The one thing about that final argument: If you use a mac, quite a bit of shops, isps, firms, manufacturers, etc will give you their support just fine. Yet Windows doesnt dominate any more or less while someone use Macs...

Re:legislating market share? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634909)

would the EU still want Microsoft to have 50% market share and keep punishing them if they didn't?
Hell no, that's way too much!

Where did you get this information? (1)

golodh (893453) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635137)

Could you please show us a link where we can verify>/i> your claim that "[...] Neelie Kroes (EU competition czar) saying that the desired outcome is for Microsoft to have 50% market share (or at least a significant reduction)"

Until you do, how are we to regard this claim as anything but random noise at best?

Quel surprise! (-1, Flamebait)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634715)

The European Court of First Instance upheld the ruling that Microsoft had abused its dominant market position.

Surprise surprise, a European court decided to rob an American company of half a billion dollars, after said company complied with order after absurd order to change its practices.

"The People" want a Media-Player-less version, comrade? Okay... Gee, no one seems to have bought XP-N.

Open the file formats? Here, have some source code. Not good enough? How about we just use XML? Still not good enough? Here, let us lube up Balmer's derriere for you...

No one can compete with Microsoft because, put simply, Microsoft has a "good enough" product; not "great", just "okay". They understand, and have embraced, the principle of mediocrity at the sweet price-point, and have thrived as a result. A free web browser couldn't compete because MSIE works out of the box. But people still had the choice to install a number of alternatives - And most chose not to.

Re:Quel surprise! (5, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634765)

Surprise surprise, a European court decided to rob an American company of half a billion dollars

Surprise surprise, a European court punished a company for breaking the law. Don't blame the EU for not slapping them on the wrist like the USA did. Perhaps if the USA enforced its own laws properly then it wouldn't have been necessary for the EU to pursue this case.

Re:Quel surprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20634819)

... Whereas an American court /won't/ punish an American company for breaking the law - provided that company is rich enough.

Re:Quel surprise! (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634887)

My biggest problem with his post is that it pins a button on all Americans (in some people's view) that says we back Microsoft because they are an American based company. In fact, I despise Microsoft for all the reasons listed in this case and hopefully they can get something to actually occur out of all this.

Re:Quel surprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20634771)

yeah, right. things like hardware maker arm-twisting, predatory pricing, bribing governments to use their software, bribing governments to push their agenda all contribute to the quality of their software and to the competitive, efficient and pro-customer software market, really. and, btw, the only thing that has made microsoft being a bit more pro-customer recently hasn't been government interference -- that was always too little and too late. the only reason microsoft is opening up is the alternative opensource has provided.

I don't think so .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634799)

"The European Court of First Instance upheld the ruling that Microsoft had abused its dominant market position" 'It did this by refusal to supply and authorize the use of interoperability information and tying of the Windows client PC operating system and Windows Media Player'

Open the file formats? Here, have some source code

The file formats are not open when they are owned by a single company, the source isn't open when it is tied to proprietary formats.

"How about we just use XML?"

Microsoft XML isn't open when it is tied to proprietary schemas and closed blobs.

"A free web browser couldn't compete because MSIE works out of the box"

Then why tie MSIE so tightly to the OS that it can't be removed, a decision that lead directly to the current spam/phising virus infestation - ACTIVEX ...

was: Re:Quel surprise!

Re:Quel surprise! (1)

Magada (741361) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634959)

I hope you hold Microsoft stock - and lots of it. This kind of astroturfing is hard to do on just a paycheck - it's soul-draining work.

after said company complied with order after absurd order to change its practices.
Untrue. Fines were demanded as a result of non-compliance. More fines were demanded as a result of MS not paying the initial fines and generally ignoring the proceedings. I should stop here, but I like to stop and feed the trolls once in a while.

Gee, no one seems to have bought XP-N
Is that so? Do you have numbers? How many XP box licenses were sold in the EU in the relevant timeframe? Not many at all, I'd say. Was XP-N cheaper in any way? Shouldn't it have been, given that Media Player is valuable Microsoft IP?

Open the file formats? Here, have some source code. Not good enough? How about we just use XML? Still not good enough?
I hope you don't mean Microsoft Office Open XML. If you do, I challenge you to create a feature-complete implementation of the standard - including the nice bits about "doing like word95 does it".
Also, it wasn't about just files, but also about moving them around (read: providing documentation so that Samba can stop sucking needlessly). No progress there.

But people still had the choice to install a number of alternatives
Choice, you say. Have you ever uninstalled IE? Don't bother answering that one, it's called a rhetorical question.

And most chose not to.
Do you have figures to back that up? Don't bother trotting out browser stats - though even those will show Firefox at a healthy 20% or thereabouts. Many of those running IE now have no choice in the matter - their corp is standardized on Windows.

The contradiction of capitalism (1, Insightful)

SD-Arcadia (1146999) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634725)

You say you want competition in a free market. You start out with a bunch of competitors. But every competing company strives to become a monopoly to ensure profits, it's not a secret. In the long run, one of them dominates the market and becomes such a monopoly, it's not a surprise outcome. Then you turn around and declare that to be illegal. You split the company up or write fines. Which leaves you not with the desired competitive atmosphere but a wounded monopoly, still a monopoly nevertheless. This goes on in every sector, until some catastrophic event like war or financial crisis. At which point you call in the state to fix everything up. You get state investments. And then, in the spirit of capitalism, the state will privatize these, because a free competitive market is better. Back to square 1. Repeat.

Monopolies are not illegal (3, Informative)

Roy Ward (14216) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634967)

Abusing a monopoly (anti-competitive behaviour) is illegal.

When a company has a monopoly, they get some extra rules to play by. Microsoft has not been following these.

Re:The contradiction of capitalism (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635305)

That's nice. Are you complaining or do you have a solution which actually produces real results, good profits, and generally makes people's lives better when implemented?

The problem with monetary judgements (2, Insightful)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634743)

I knew a guy who was well off. He'd water his lawn during droughts, and pay the fine every time. It was nothing to him, as he carelessly wasted water that other people needed to drink. Our areas reservoir dropped by a record 12 feet that year. Did he care about the hundreds of fines he recieved? Not a bit.

Fining Microsoft is much the same case, it means nothing. Barely a blip on their radar. You want to really penalize them, start trustbusting. "Oh, I'm sorry Microsoft, you cannot sell your OS within our territory with Media Player, you must bundle it with this other player. Oh, it costs you $25 per copy to bundle it? Too bad, oh, and you now are under price-restrictions as well, and you have to drop the price of Windows to boot. I figure $5 OEM cost. What was that, you'd be loosing $20 for every machine that ships with Windows? Well, it is your choice weither you sell it to OEM's now, isn't it? Now let's talk about Internet Explorer, shall we?"

Re:The problem with monetary judgements (1)

Idaho (12907) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634859)

I knew a guy who was well off. He'd water his lawn during droughts, and pay the fine every time. It was nothing to him, as he carelessly wasted water that other people needed to drink. Our areas reservoir dropped by a record 12 feet that year. Did he care about the hundreds of fines he recieved? Not a bit.

Yes, that's capitalism for you. If you don't like it, move to a different country. I would suggest a communist state, where such problems never occur [wikipedia.org] .

<insert "soviet russia" joke here>

Alternatively, you could try to get your local government to substantially raise the fines for such violations.

The latter sounds like a better idea to me, I'm hoping the EU will keep doing the same thing to Microsoft as well - they've been milking their office/windows monopoly long enough, it's about time we moved on to using open standards, as happened in website development a couple of years ago.

Re:The problem with monetary judgements (2, Interesting)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634931)

The problem is, you raise the fines, you only truely hurt the small guy. Finland went with a "fine is a percentage of yearly earnings" and it helped them a lot. But, money is also only money to some people. What about restrictions, such as putting a flow-control valve. "Sorry Mr. Smith, you only are allowed 12 gallons per day, so use them wisely" for those who are chronic violators, similar to what is done with drivers licenses.

Re:The problem with monetary judgements (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635043)

Finland went with a "fine is a percentage of yearly earnings" and it helped them a lot. But, money is also only money to some people.
I know you nordics are notoriously liberal, so I expect you don't have things like stocks or the birch - but have you really gone so far as abolishing prison?

Re:The problem with monetary judgements (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635107)

Alternatively, you could try to get your local government to substantially raise the fines for such violations.

A more effective deterrent might be to rule that repeat offenders' lawns receive a complementary treatment with Roundup courtesy of the local public works department.

Re:The problem with monetary judgements (2, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634983)

I don't see anything wrong with what this guy is doing.

The fines should be large enough to compensate for his waste. If they aren't then they should be increased until they are.

The money from the fines should be used to improve the infrastructure, like waste treatment or desalination plants.

Same goes for MS: The fines should be large enough to compensate for the damage MS is causing and used to repair it. The fines should be large enough that the benefit MS obtains by continuing their behavior is smaller than the fines they pay.

Re:The problem with monetary judgements (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634985)

He'd water his lawn during droughts, and pay the fine every time. It was nothing to him
That's why I'm a fan of doubling the fine on each subsequent offence. Likewise for jail sentences. The laws of mathematics, economics and biology interact in a rather elegant way to make it very unlikely you'll persitently reoffend.

Linux just recieved $690,000,000 in funding!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Nymz (905908) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634759)

FTA - software customers still have no more choice than they did three years ago.
Ouch, is GNU/Linux really so bad that it can't even be considered an option? Well, if all this new funding from Microsoft's bank account, along with all of Microsoft's sourcecode can't fix Linux, then what else could we make Bill Gates do?

Re:Linux just recieved $690,000,000 in funding!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20635023)

  1. Linux and OSS is clearly a competitor in certain server and embedded systems markets, but the lack of interoperability harms it's adoption in other markets.
  2. You're the only person claiming that the fine will somehow be used to fund Open Source development, but never let facts get in the way of a good troll.
  3. Microsoft are not even being asked to provide source code. Not one line. Not even a single {. The only people claiming this are the Microsoft PR department. This would make you either an employee or a sucker. Which one are you?

Re:Linux just recieved $690,000,000 in funding!!! (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635295)

Consider the following about computer users:
  1. most can not properly operate Windows
  2. many are easily duped by obvious scams
  3. many can not be bothered to read the manual
  4. many refuse to accept the fact that any problem they experience could possibly be caused something they did or did not do
  5. many do not know or understand the terms used to describe computer power, confusing memory, storage and speed ratings.
  6. some can't even cut and paste between applications

    1. Yes, GNU/Linux really is so bad that it can't be considered an option. It is simple fact is that no Linux distribution is actually designed for the average user. The developers and distributors of Linux expect people to have a certain level of skill, knowledge, competence, and devotion which is beyond most users.

I still don't like it. (5, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634807)

Big as it is, 600 m$ is chump change for MSFT and it would shrug and treat it as cost of doing business. Further this creates a "rally around our flag" effect kind of support of MSFT. Many Americans would go, "The damned Europeans, the gall they have punishing a Red White an Blue company.." .

What I would really like to see is that the customers of MSFT see that it is in their best interest in having an alternative to MSFT in the desktop, server, office documentation products arena that will benefit by perfect 100% compatible interoperability. No customer would buy a Samsung TV that can play only Samsung DVD player. But why these corporations don't demand such compatibility?

One answer is that, MSFT tax is not very big. Just 40 billion dollars a year max. For most companies, payroll, medical insurance, office rent, furniture, liability insurance, transportation, travel etc cost more than office PC/laptop. So they are not looking for savings here.

Second, companies only focus on the differentials with their competitor. Stated differently, Coke does not care how much it spends on pc/laptops and office software as long as its competitor, Pepsi, is not spending a significantly lower amount on the same category. This explains the herd like behavior of the corporations. No body looked to outsource to India till about year 2000. One did. Showed some possible cost savings. Whether or not the savings were real, that first company's investment in India is real. Suddenly every suit is asking, "what if it pays off big time for them? What if we get left behind. Let us play it safe, hedge our bets and let us also have a presence in India."

I don't know when it will happen. But at some point some big company would make it a priority to have a second vendor in the office software arena, and invest a sum to show it is serious. Like a herd every suit who was asking, "What is our India strategy?" would be asking "What is our second vendor for office strategy?". Of course, not without some serious kicking and screaming and "Total cost of ownership" studies funded by MSFT. But when the corporate pendulum swings, it swings inexorably and usually it will go well past what is reasonable reach the other irrational extreme, corporations investing so much on "second vendor" strategy that the saving don't justify the investment. But that won't deter these suits, It never has.

Wishful thinking by EU (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20634825)

"Once illegal abuse has been removed and competitors are
free to compete on the merits, the logical consequence of that
would be to expect Microsoft's market share to fall," spokesman
Jonathan Todd said.

http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUKL1720058720070917?rpc=44 [reuters.com]

I'm no big fan of Microsoft but the statements made by the EU spokes-people are more wishful thinking than reality. Even with "fair" competition Microsoft will still dominate due to the strong network effect inherent in operating systems used by the general public.

Re:Wishful thinking by EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20634861)

It's not illegal to have a monopoly so the EU shouldn't care if MS dominates the market. They have a problem because MS abuses their monopoly to harm competitors.

Euro high (1)

stud9920 (236753) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634845)

If they hadn't appealed, they would have had to pay in 2004 EUR, which was a lot lower than it is today.

Where will the money go? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20634865)

If it doesn't go to fix the situation then it is pointless. The EU should spend the money building their own software industry up and set their own standards. The US would then be forced into a competitive market.

EU vs. USA - MS pending (2, Interesting)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634893)

While some may portray it as being an EU versus USA thing, it's actually much broader then that. To be sure; that sentiment *IS* there, and it certainly has played a role, especially concerning the popular support (the general EU IT-populace). It's doubtful however that the judges let themselves be swept away by any anti-americanism, however.

I think it's as much a 'global corporation which tries to screw you over'-sentiment than anything else, and that's why a lot of open source people (also in the USA) are rejoicing. But... that sentiment played little to no role in the ruling neither.

Basically, it's quite simple: they went against EU law and were dragging their feet to comply. No judge likes THAT.

Personally, I think they deserve a much higher penalty. The EU commision is way to soft on them - actually softer then on big EU corporations they tried to deal with in the past. And also, the 'provide an XP without the mediaplayer'-thing was outright stupid. *Everyone* with half a brain could see this would have no effect. First of all, it's too limited in scope: what about win-OSses other than XP, what about all those other applications other then the media player? Is the EU going to fight a 10 year struggle over every OS and application that comes along and has the same issues as was now decided on?

And apart from that: it's just suilly. Nobody is going to buy XP without mediaplayer if, for the same price, one can get one *with* it. By now, this obvious deduction has been proven right. No, what they should do is making it obliged that *every* OS MS makes gives the oportunity to install (or not) any application that comes with it (browser, media player, virusscanner, etc.). That way, you let consumers decide, and you give the opportunity to choose other applications instead of the windows-included-ones.

Such a ruling would have made better sense, coppled with opening up their code for compatibility and an even huger fine would make it clear to MS that no corporation is above the law, not even a giant USA one with lots of money and lawyers.

Excellent job, Neelie Kroes !! (2, Insightful)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634921)

Personally I think this latest verdict will do little to nothing in the real word, and most of its value lies in the precedent it sets. Microsoft is a huge company, with deep pockets, good lawyers and used to dealing with lawsuits. If they get hammered, get fined, appeal, and lose again, then any company is subject to the same if they break anti-competitive rules. It also re-affirms that EU courts at least have the power to kick ass if need be. For all that, this verdict is very significant.

Other than that, I'd just like to congratulate mrs. Neelie Kroes for a long, hard job well done. She was always known in my country (the Netherlands) for being the exact opposite of a push-over (and many disliked her for that very reason), but where she is now, you need someone with exactly that personality.

So Neelie Kroes: we congratulate you, and bow to you! Bring out the champagne! (hey, if nothing else, pulling several 100 millions from Microsoft's pockets isn't a bad thing ;-)

Microsoft has the dumbest lawyers (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20634973)

Microsoft must have the dumbest lawyers. There has always been a media player since Windows 3.0. Admittedly it could only play .avi & .wav files and CD's but now Windows Media Player has evolved to support new encoding formats and streaming media. Now EU the says Microsoft can't include a media player with Windows. In Windows 95, Microsoft included the setup options for other file & print services, namely Novell Netware and Sun PC-NFS. Those vendors refused to support newer versions of Windows on the date that the new versions released so it was impossible for Microsoft to include the setup options for Novell Netware and Sun's PC-NFS in Windows 2000. So the EU says that Microsoft is abusing its dominant Windows client market share to extend its market share into Windows Servers. Microsoft extended the SMB protocol with things like enhanced security, integration with kerberos, encryption and a distributed file system to take advantage of features in Windows Server that were innovative and added value for customers. The SMB extensions did not prevent Samba file & print servers from serving Windows clients as the SMB protocol enables clients and servers to negotiate with one another based on their capabilities. Now the EU forces Microsoft to give it's IP to Samba so that they can copy the features present in Windows Server. Where is the innovation from Samba ? Active Directory is a multi-master, loosely coupled distributed directory service, that integrates LDAP, Kerberos and NTLM into a single easily deployed and managed service. Other LDAP and Kerberos implementations can interoperate with AD. Unlike other ldap directories that are not multi-master (OpenLDAP, Sun One), Active Directory has an innovative replication mechanism. Now the EU is forcing Microsoft to give it's IP to competitors such as Open LDAP and Sun so that they can replace Windows Server. All the innovations on Windows Server are designed to provide distinct benefits to customers. The EU ruling makes no sense whatsoever ! Micosoft should sack Brad Smith and his bunch of crony lawyers.

the battle has moved on: DRM & BBC iPlayer (2, Insightful)

Phil Hands (2365) | more than 6 years ago | (#20634993)

Sadly, and as one would expect, this all comes too late to make any difference to MediaPlayer's market share.

Perhaps the obligation to publish interfaces will bear fruit, but only if MS get appropriately punished in a timely manner when what they initially publish turns out to bear no relation to what is actually in 'doze, or does relate to it, but doesn't actually contain sufficient information to get the job done.

In the mean time, the BBC have handed control of their on-line content over to MS in the form of the BBC iPlayer, which relies on MS DRM. By the time that the EU notices that, they'll have killed off the currently vibrant set-top box market, and the bulk of them will be running some form of WinCE. At least that's the danger, which people a need to get excited about now [defectivebydesign.org] if it's not to come to pass.

The good news is that..... (-1, Troll)

8127972 (73495) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635039)

People who make furniture will see an increase in business in the short term.

Sic semper tyrannus!! Thus it will always be! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20635151)

I love the free market, but Microsoft have abused us all for so long - they deserve every last bit of their fine. What have MS really contributed to the software industry save a measure of stability on a single platform? They need to morph into a radically different company that produces useful product or just piss off and die.

Media players (1)

Retron (577778) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635245)

I just can't understand this. A few years back RealNetworks was whinging like fun, going on about MS being anticompetitive, etc.

Thing is...

In 1991 MS released Windows with Multimedia Extensions, which was Win 3.0 with a few multimedia apps bundled. In 1992 Media Player became part of Windows 3.1 and has remained there every since. Back in 1991, of course, there were no other media players out there.

Then 3 years later RealNetworks pops up and before long starts whinging. Considering MS had been "bundling" a media player since before RN was even thought of, how on Earth did RN have a leg to stand on? It just reeks of sour grapes to me.

And guess what members of Joe Public enough to get hold of Windows xxx N do? Yup, that's right, install WMP anyway as IE will prompt for it. Those who are tech-savvy enough to install an alternative browser/media player anyway will continue to do the same, so I really can't see what this achieves - apart from making some lawyers rich!

Goodness, I can just see it now - people moaning because Windows comes with a calculator, text editor and screensavers. Not to mention some games, I mean how unfair is that to those who write Solitaire clones for a living?!

From the way the article reads... (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635261)

...couldn't M$ simply price a version of windows without the media player higher than the version with it?

This seems like a typical tactic they would employ to maintain their dominance and squeeze out competition.

Re:From the way the article reads... (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635337)

The problem MS has is that it claimed in U.S. court and in front of Congress that it could not remove WMP or IE from Windows because they were so tightly integrated.

If it complies with the EU, it could be charged with perjury here in the U.S. and it could also have some interesting effects as it might cause a new browser lawsuit.

Good news but... (1)

Fenice (1156725) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635273)

I think they will just compensate by raising the prices of their products in EU?

What does this actually mean? (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635287)

Does this mean that Microsoft has to let free software use its network protocols and data formats?
Or can Microsoft continue with the status quo and lock free software out? (i.e. the "Microsoft Communications Protocol Program" which is great if you are IBM wanting to make your mainframes talk to the Windows machines in the network but not so great if you are Samba wanting to make a solution that lets you replace a Windows active directory server with a linux machine)

uneven trade (2, Funny)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 6 years ago | (#20635347)

If the EU is going to impose sanctions on Microsoft like this, and we are not, then this means that there is essentially a $690 million trade restriction on Microsoft. For Microsoft to behave the same way in the EU that it behaves here, they need to pay a fee of $690 million.

That smacks of protectionism, and we have to retaliate.

Let's charge Microsoft $690 million to behave that way in the US.
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