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EU fines Microsoft $1.4 billion For Defying Sanctions

MS first ever company to fail to comply with EU anti-trust ruling

     
1:32 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The European Commission (which enforces EU laws) has fined Microsoft 899m euros (US$1.4 billion) for failing to comply with a ruling from 2004:

[news.bbc.co.uk...]

The original ruling was to do with MS linking and bundling its Media Player and Internet Explorer browser with the Windows operating system. The EU feels this gives IE and MP an unfair advantage over rival browsers and players.

[edited by: gibbergibber at 1:40 pm (utc) on Feb. 27, 2008]

[edited by: engine at 4:04 pm (utc) on Feb. 27, 2008]
[edit reason] fixed symbol [/edit]

1:37 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Someone's feeling the low dollar now :O
4:18 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Maybe I haven't been following the news closely enough, but has MS ever paid any of the fines levied against them?

All I hear is that MS got fined. Do they ever pay, or does it just get dragged through court for years and years with no resolution? If not then who cares if they are fined?

4:42 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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All I hear is that MS got fined. Do they ever pay

MS has got one of the strongest legal teams around. It is unlikely they've missed a payment. We can only speculate...but I seriously doubt they will pay anything on this one. The worst case is it will be an undisclosed settlement.

5:02 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Yeah - sure, after all this effort they are just going to let them off the hook. It will make things easier next time as Microsoft will know that the EU has no teeth and they free to do whatever they like across the world.

The EU will get this money for sure. If MS was not going to pay then why would they have complied with the initial ruling?

5:37 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The EU will get this money for sure.

I sure hope so. Either that or take away the EU market.

6:56 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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FireFox just proves that whole anti-trust B.S. concerning IE and media player was an absolute joke. Build a better product and people will use it (I don't happen to like FireFox but millions apparently do).

Plus, how can people on one hand argue their freedom to download music for free and then complain when someone distributes a free browser and media player with their operating system?

If Microsoft had just made their browser open source and still delivered it for free, would anyone care?

Microsoft was just trying to help the poor access the internet :)

And they call Americans stupid... The arrogance of the judiciary just astounds me to no end.

7:11 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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after all this effort they are just going to let them off the hook.

Your definition of "effort" is quite low. Did you mean "after spending this amount of money on consultations, conferences in the bahamas, hiring their drop-out nephews as researchers and loads of expense account dinners" are they going to let microsoft get away with not footing the bill?

It will make things easier next time as Microsoft will know that the EU has no teeth and they free to do whatever they like across the world.

The EU has no teeth. Microsoft are free to do whatever they like across the world.

7:51 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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what a joke of a ruling anyway. EU asks "I can haz moneys?"

Is there a similar ruling against Notepad as a text editor? Putting it in Windows gives it an unfair advantage over other text editors, right? Or more closely related, Apple packages Safari with OSX right?

7:58 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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RobDog - It was the USA that was unhappy about the browser bundling not the EU. The EU has taken MS to court over bundling the Media Player (they were trying to make WMA the only format for media on the internet) and for using their monopoly in the desktop market to extend into the server market illegally, that is what 'opening up protocols' is all about.

When a company decides to do business in the EU they have to abide by the laws or they will find their executives locked up and their right to trade removed. The EU has already shown their teeth in forcing MS to document the SMB protocol to the Samba team for a one time fee.

There are still a few more cases to be heard in the EU so I doubt MS are going to make any more of trouble for themselves.

9:05 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I hate all this stuff with government interfering with private commerce. The governments of the world have enough to do running themselves; we don't need them running businesses too.

I don't care for Microsoft myself, but I hope they just plain ignore this.

9:23 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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If Governments did not 'interfere' with private commerce then there would be no copyright laws and Microsoft would be unable to make any money whatsoever. Or by interfering do you mean 'doing something one private corporation does not think is fair'.

Please remember these cases were brought by American companies against an American company, but they chose to use the EU court. Why did they choose to use the EU courts? Was it because it appeared that the DoJ was paid off and is no longer a fair court?

9:35 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Copyright is not interfering. That's a basic right relating to the ownership of private property and profiting from one's work. Copyright is akin to laws against stealing.

Why an American company would choose to use a foreign court is beyond me. Corruption and greed are two possibilities that come to mind, but I don't know much about the situation so I won't speculate on motives.

9:41 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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FireFox just proves that whole anti-trust B.S. concerning IE and media player was an absolute joke. Build a better product and people will use it (I don't happen to like FireFox but millions apparently do).

The reason Microsoft has to pay the fine is that they did not want to disclose necessary information about their operating system that companys would need to build competitive and better products.

Imagine you want to create a website but you do not know how HTML works because W3C does not give you that information. But you can of course buy their shiny new WYSIWYG editor. But hey, this is a free market economy isn't it? No problem with that. And of course you can still try to figure out how it works somehow by looking at the source code of websites. Just will take a little longer doing it by trial and error.

Is there a similar ruling against Notepad as a text editor? Putting it in Windows gives it an unfair advantage over other text editors, right?

For building a simple application like notepad you do not need detailed information about the operating system.

Plus, how can people on one hand argue their freedom to download music for free and then complain when someone distributes a free browser and media player with their operating system?

You are paying for the Internet Explorer and for the Media Player with every license of Windows you buy. Where do you think the money for the IE and Mediaplayer programmers comes from? The Bill Gates charity fund?

10:10 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Ok, so everyone has had great arguments so far and I definitely see the opposing point of view now. Well said about the Notepad thing and much of this being US issues in the EU courts.

But is there a difference between Apple with Safari and MS with IE? Why is one anti-trust and the other isn't? Just curious.

10:36 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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That's odd. Netscape had no problem creating their own browser without any details from Microsoft...
10:56 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I sure hope so. Either that or take away the EU market.

Yes, cut off the nose to spite the face! Who would hurt more if Microsoft no longer sold products to EU. Microsoft or the EU? I'm going with EU.

Last I checked, there were about 100 media players available for windows, if not 1000.

And last I checked, Netscape, Opera and FireFox all work in Windows, some might say better. How is bundling MSFT products together considered anti-trust? I still don't get that one.

Chip-

11:21 pm on Feb 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Apple OS X got far more software included with its OS, and of Higher quality than what is supplied with windows. Have you compared windows movie maker in Vista with what comes with ILIFE ? It's ridiculous to attack microsoft when you see what other OS vendors are doing.

I see more hate than rationality behind this move from EU (i'm european).

12:18 am on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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As I understand it, this is about Microsoft using its monopoly position as a provider of desktop operating systems to unfairly leverage its offerings in other markets.

This works against a free market since competitors can't compete equally. It's a well recognised problem with a monopoly player, and there are well established rules to deal with these sort of abuses of that position. Which is what is happening now.

I don't really see how Microsoft can manage to win this fight - at the end of the day the courts will recover these fines from their European operations if necessary, and they will still be expected to comply with the courts' rulings; subject to further fines if they continue to refuse.

[edited by: ytswy at 12:27 am (utc) on Feb. 28, 2008]

12:22 am on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Last I checked, there were about 100 media players available for windows, if not 1000.

How many of those came bundled with Windows? 1 I believe.

1:18 am on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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As I understand it, this is about Microsoft using its monopoly position as a provider of desktop operating systems to unfairly leverage its offerings in other markets.

This is why Apple can bundle Safari, Microsoft is the only one who have a monopoly status. Like it or not this means they are subjected to anti-trust laws. These laws were set up to protect free trade and competition and that is exactly what they are doing (in the EU anyway). It is about much more than bundling, it is about Microsoft actively abusing their monopoly to prevent competition.

Notepad is not a good argument because it is a very very basic piece of software. If they included a full-blown copy of Word in an attempt to see off Open Office and make sure their OOXML format is dominant then they will be up in court again.

You do not need Microsoft cooperation for writing user apps like Netscape, but documentation is vital if you are trying to reverse engineer the SMB or Active Directory protocols. In the past Microsoft has changed this protocol to deliberately hold back competition (Samba and others). This is using their desktop monopoly to expand into the file sharing market.

1:34 am on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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All I hear is that MS got fined. Do they ever pay, or does it just get dragged through court for years and years with no resolution?

typically the payment is in the form of free software to schools.
that way MS pays the fine at a steep discount, the general public gets warm fuzzies about MS, and kids grow up thinking MS Word is the only word processor, PP is the only presentation tool, etc.

Is there a similar ruling against Notepad as a text editor? Putting it in Windows gives it an unfair advantage over other text editors, right?

i'm pretty sure you can delete notepad.exe and you're good to go with any other editor.
i haven't quite figured out to dissect IE from XP...
2:37 am on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I sure hope so. Either that or take away the EU market.

The EU has a track record of targeting non-EU companies with this type of thing. I only wish the outcome was taking away the EU market. We'd see a lot of policy changes pretty quickly as companies ground to a standstill.

3:08 am on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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NO EUROPEAN had the vision Bill Gates had in the early-middle-late 1980s:

1. The importance to market market in parallel two types of operating systems, a low end OS (DOS, Windows 16-bit) and a high end OS (Xenix, OS/2, Windows NT).

2. Stay away from hardware.

3. Build the first productive GUI apps for the Mac.

4. Move away from character-based apps at the right time.

NOW, because of SUCH LACK of vision, Europeans are using THEIR LEGAL SYSTEM to try to catch up with Microsoft. Shame on you!

I'm glad I don't live in Europe.

7:15 am on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The EU has no teeth.

I'd ask GE before making that statement - [money.cnn.com...]

7:38 am on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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NO EUROPEAN had the vision Bill Gates had in the early-middle-late 1980s:

And this means that Microsoft should be allowed to abuse its monopoly twenty years later? This is taking economic nationalism to the edge of absurdity.

9:23 am on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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NO EUROPEAN had the vision Bill Gates had in the early-middle-late 1980s:

Maybe not but Tim Berners-Lee was born in England...without his work we may not even be posting here today...let alone have M$ trying to finally 'get' the internet...

9:47 am on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Keep the nationalism out; this about business conducted unfairly, period. Microsoft doesn' have to pay, but it will mean they will close the EU market for themselves. My guess is that the EU is generating more profit for them than this fine could take away.
10:23 am on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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@zafile

If you want to develop software for a specific operating system you need access to its APIs. Or you cannot develop software.

So what you are saying is, that it is ok for Microsoft to withold information about crucial interfaces to the operating system which software developers need to create software that runs on Windows? (By the way, US developers need this informatin, too.)

Or charge unreasonable sums for this information so that especially small companies cannot create software that would compete with Microsofts own products?

My guess is that the EU is generating more profit for them than this fine could take away.

Since in the EU live nearly 500 Millionen people, which means 200 Millon more potential customers than the US, I guess you are right.

2:06 pm on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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"Microsoft should be allowed to abuse its monopoly twenty years later."

Monopoly in the case of Microsoft is a term pretty much abused by IBMers, freetards, amigoids, and the rest of the anti-MS gang. This crowd suffers from - among other things - the "Steven Paul Jobs reality distortion field."

"Tim Berners-Lee was born in England...without his work we may not even be posting here today."

Get a copy of Microsoft Windows 3.0 released on May 5, 1990 and check it's help system. You don't need to be a physics scientist to port the Microsoft Windows 3.0 help system to a distributed environment.

"Microsoft to withold information about crucial interfaces to the operating system which software developers need to create software that runs on Windows?"

The anti-MS gang always want a free ride instead of using their own research and development. If they don't get their way for free, then they use their country's LEGAL SYSTEM to try to catch up with Microsoft.

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