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Microsoft Government News

Should Microsoft Be Excluded From EU Government Sales? 350

Posted by kdawson
from the good-question dept.
David Gerard writes "From Groklaw: Heidi Rühle, a Green Party MEP, has presented a question regarding whether or not Microsoft should be considered as having failed to fulfill the conditions to participate in public procurement procedures in Europe, as laid out in Article 93(b) and (c) of Financial Regulation — '(b) they have been convicted of an offense concerning their professional conduct by a judgment which has the force of res judicata; (c) they have been guilty of grave professional misconduct proven by any means which the contracting authority can justify' — and the Commission anti-trust penalty just happens to fulfill both of those conditions." The EU Commission is required to respond within 6 weeks to such a question from a member of Parliament.
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Should Microsoft Be Excluded From EU Government Sales?

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  • by mfh (56) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @10:51AM (#23024568) Journal
    The real question here is, how much would the necessary bribe be, and who is corrupt enough in the EU Commission to push this through for MSFT?

    Also, will the next big US war be in the UK?
    • If this happens, will it have as big of an effect on the MSFT bottom line as I hope/think?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mfh (56)

        If this happens, will it have as big of an effect on the MSFT bottom line as I hope/think?
        The market in question is the size of 1/2 of the USA, and MSFT is about to lose access to that... so there is your answer! :P

        Sell MSFT now while you still can...
        • by neongrau (1032968) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:01AM (#23024728)
          1/2 the size regarding landmass. i'm pretty sure the true (software) market size of the EU is larger when compared to the US.
          • by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:08AM (#23024826) Homepage Journal
            Software chosen by government tends to trickle down to corporations, which tends to trickle down to home users (although to a lesser extent). So if Microsoft software were to be replaced in EU governments it would eventually influence a population that's larger than the US and Canada combined.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Taagehornet (984739)

              Software chosen by government tends to trickle down to corporations

              Perhaps in Soviet Russia ;)

              In the rest of the world it usually works the other way round.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by JustPutt2 (916062)
              You can bet that someone way up in MS has just said "Ohhh Shit"
          • by sashapup (1025115) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:09AM (#23024848) Homepage
            Yup, about 63% larger.

            US Population: 301,139,947
            EU Population: 490,426,060
          • 1/2 the size regarding landmass. i'm pretty sure the true (software) market size of the EU is larger when compared to the US.

            Well, this is "just" about EU government sales, and I think the idea is that the EU governments taken together are about half the size of the total US software market.

            (Obviously, where government leads, others will probably follow.)
        • by oliderid (710055) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:15AM (#23024926) Journal

          Not really...The issue here is whether or not the EU as an administration should order products/licenses from Microsoft.

          The issue isn't whether or not Microsoft can do business in the EU. The European union bureaucracy is huge, but not that huge.

          As an European and an user of open source products I don't support this proposition.

          Microsoft has been punished already. Time to move on. Microsoft is already facing serious competitions and its dominant position looks less invicible than it used to be.
          Technically/Financially Open Source is the way forward for public services. But if Microsoft can prove that their products are objectively better for an administration, then I see no reason why it shouldn't be used.

          Leftists such as this green party are taking it as an easy ideological shot against big companies (they hate them). I don't support that.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by neumayr (819083)
            It's an intended publicity stunt of course - the commision will not ban Microsoft. Unless there'll be serious climate changes in hell within six weeks.
            And as such, I don't find it that bad - brings Microsoft's non-compliance back into public view, puts a little pressure in MS, though not too much..

            That's a lot about being an opposition party is all about - spreading information (and sometimes propaganda of course) about something they care about.
          • by richlv (778496) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:34AM (#23025176)
            actually, this is simply following their own procedures. if you have a law regarding procurements that states in what cases a company can not participate, you sort of are expected to follow it. mostly.
            in this case the question would be whether a single company should be awarded an exception.
          • by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:43AM (#23025316) Homepage Journal

            Microsoft has been punished already. Time to move on. If Microsoft can prove that their products are objectively better for an administration, then I see no reason why it shouldn't be used.
            Why should any government, or any organization for that matter, do business with a company convicted of illegally influencing their industries? And add to that the fact that Microsoft has not significantly adjusted their business practices, which demonstrates that they have not been adequately punished.

            But this shouldn't be about punishment. It's about who you want to do business with. I don't think any government should buy licenses from a software company that's been found guilty of manipulating the software industry. If you can't play by the rules you shouldn't be allowed to play at all.
          • by BokLM (550487) <boklm@mars-attacks.org> on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:41PM (#23026170) Homepage Journal
            Microsoft has been punished already. Time to move on.

            Not true, it has NOT been punished, because it didn't do yet what it has been asked to.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by ratzetob (759583)

            Leftists such as this green party are taking it as an easy ideological shot against big companies (they hate them). I don't support that.
            In Germany the green party is regarded more and more as a part of the establishment, surveys show that most of the people voting for them got a quite high average income. If you put them in a corner together with the classical anticapitalistic left movement and explain this with hate against companies you are certainly far off.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Microsoft has clearly NOT been 'punished enough' as they keep offending.

            The last EU fine was because MS had taken no action after their previous court loss.

            Perhaps if Ballmer had to spend a few months behind bars?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by AK Marc (707885)
            Microsoft has been punished already. Time to move on.

            Would you hire a convicted child molester to watch your children? After all, since he was convicted and released, he's been punished already, so no reason to take any further action, right? Or, would you take past actions into account and disqualify criminals from certain activities (like molesters watching your children, or buying more things from an abusive monopoly, even at the time when they are not complying with the judgement against them). But
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jmpeax (936370)

      how much would the necessary bribe be, and who is corrupt enough in the EU Commission to push this through for MSFT?
      Why would Microsoft want to push it through? The issue is about "whether Microsoft can be excluded in the future from all advertisements of public jobs".

      That's bad for Microsoft.
    • by poetmatt (793785) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:10AM (#23024862) Journal
      Where do you come up with this magic "EU is half of the size of the US business market" number? Where do you derive at this information? According to wiki, EU [wikipedia.org] and US [wikipedia.org] GDP are practically equal.

      Anyway, it's the other way around about your statement. It's "who is corrupt enough to be bought off by MS to cancel this", not the other way around. Meanwhile, if MS even tries to cancel this it will backfire on them bigtime (antitrust round 3 anyone?). I'd say that this is pretty much guaranteed although the bigger question is how to enforce existing contracts through that duration and also the question of if the countries in the EU will have the balls to follow through on this.

      Not to be totally ad hominem, but where is your incorrect logic coming from? The situation here is the exact opposite of what you posted, and coincides with your signature. WTF?

      It's like one of those spam letters with a philosophical message at the bottom.
      • by jabuzz (182671) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:08PM (#23025714) Homepage
        Since when has 17.6 trillion USD been practically equal to 13.8 trillion USD? That is IMF estimated EU for 2008, and actual USA for 2007, but the IMF are predicting a mild recession in 2008 for the USA so that 13.8 is not going to improve. I believe Eurozone is a bit smaller, but that is mostly because the UK is not in the Euro, and we are the second largest economy in Europe after Germany.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      > The real question here is, how much would the necessary bribe be, and who is corrupt enough in the EU Commission to push this through for MSFT?

      Unfortunately, your US money is worthless. Mostly becuase you spunked away your whole economy with exactly the sort of short term corruption you seem to be advocating.

      > Also, will the next big US war be in the UK?

      In your dreams fat boy.

    • "The real question here is, how much would the necessary bribe be, and who is corrupt enough in the EU Commission to push this through for MSFT?"

      Outrageously huge, and everyone.
  • by tsa (15680) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @10:51AM (#23024574) Homepage
    They're basically a criminal organisation according to EU law. I don't want to deal with an organisation that habitually breaks the law.
  • YES! (Score:4, Funny)

    by garett_spencley (193892) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @10:55AM (#23024648) Journal
    Wait, what are we talking about ?

    I heard "Microsoft" and "exclude from" ...
  • Ummm, yeah... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by R2.0 (532027)
    Lets suppose MS is "banned" from selling to the EU. Expect

    1) MS to sell it's products through "resellers".

    2) Thousands of EU ministries and departments applying for waivers because the ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE Powerpoint for them to continue in their vital work.
    • Re:Ummm, yeah... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:05AM (#23024802)
      Thousands of EU ministries and departments applying for waivers because the ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE Powerpoint for them to continue in their vital work.

      I think it goes rather deeper than that.

      Where you have entire IT departments which are used to doing 90% of their work (desktop AND server) on Microsoft products, the effort and expense of suddenly discovering that Microsoft products are now verboten for new systems would be rather more than most could realistically bear.

      I'm as interested in seeing Microsoft's position weakened as the next rabid /.'er but I don't think destroyed would be very good for IT - it's competition the market needs, not replacing one heterogeny (Windows) with another (Unix, albeit in a number of guises).
      • by Hatta (162192)
        Where you have entire IT departments which are used to doing 90% of their work (desktop AND server) on Microsoft products, the effort and expense of suddenly discovering that Microsoft products are now verboten for new systems would be rather more than most could realistically bear.

        Good. Maybe they'd learn something about software monoculture and vendor lock-in and design their systems better in the future. They made their bed, they should lie in it.
    • Re:Ummm, yeah... (Score:5, Informative)

      by PinkyDead (862370) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:14AM (#23024914) Journal
      I would imagine that the exclusion would follow standard public procurement procedures within the EU, whereby Microsoft would be excluded from applying for public tenders because they weren't compliant with existing regulations.

      Where they are already in place, they would not need to apply for tenders. If new departments etc came into existence, then they could use other presentation software and would have budgets for training etc.

      So basically Microsoft wouldn't be able to grow their existing base, until they sorted out their compliance. But current users of their software would be unaffected.
    • by scubamage (727538)
      Ahhh ok I understand, so in the UK all it requires to be above the law is to be significantly difficult to replace. So, I suppose that would mean the prime minister and most other officials are immune from scrutiny too, since it would be difficult to replace them despite there being numerous replacements in the wing. You seem to forget that there are numerous FREE alternatives to all microsoft products, almost all of which are compatible to some extent or another. If you make an exception for one company be
    • by janrinok (846318)
      I don't follow your logic. It says Microsoft might be banned from bidding for future contracts, not that all existing Microsoft software will disappear in a puff of smoke. Licensed versions of Powerpoint will still exist on EU computers and thus can still be used for 'vital work'.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mysticgoat (582871)

      Rather than a "ban", the EU could resurrect some old laws that are almost certainly still on the books:

      Declare the corporation of Microsoft an outlaw, confiscate all its properties and put those properties in the commons.

      All Microsoft copyrights and patents are immediately nullified within the boundaries of the EU.

      While this may seem a little unusual, it would be an easy solution that would allow governments and agencies dependent on MS products to go forward without hindrance (or continued payment of li

  • If Microsoft wasn't the best choice, why elminate them from the process?

    Who is going to benifit the most from this, and what is the connection to this group?

    Is there an eu msft that they are trying to shepard to the big time, or is it simple corruption?

    Who wins with MS out of the picture?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PunkOfLinux (870955)
      Everyone, because they'll probably settle on something open, such as Linux, OpenOffice, and MySQL.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by CubeRootOf (849787)
        Really?

        Those are the only alternatives to Microsoft, AND the next best thing to it?

        Which company is going to provide the install support across all of the offices, who is going to retrain all of the IT staff, who is going to replace every instance of closed format documentation that they already have in place?

        I'm not asking that question from the standpoint of !nobody - ms is the way to go!, but from the standpoint, of who is going to be paid for that work, and what thier connection is to the minister who i
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Qzukk (229616)
      the best choice

      Define "best choice"?
      • Exactly. First of all, there are most likely lots of dumb rules that say things like, when comparing products, being open source isn't allowed to count as an advantage (it's a government, it almost certainly has stupid and arbitrary rules).

        Secondly, the fact that Microsoft products have a huge presence in the Real World, which the EU occasionally has to deal with, means that their products are at a significant advantage from the word go.

        To a government, using Microsoft products makes sense if you're th

    • by causality (777677) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:07AM (#23024814)

      If Microsoft wasn't the best choice, why elminate them from the process?

      Who is going to benifit the most from this, and what is the connection to this group?

      Is there an eu msft that they are trying to shepard to the big time, or is it simple corruption?

      Who wins with MS out of the picture?

      I'd say we all win when a strong message is sent to large corporations that says "we will not tolerate illegal behavior from you, and we will stand by this principle even if this means we must make some sacrifices". It's called having a spine. Ideally the goal is not necessarily to get MS out of the picture (unless they refuse to reform their business practices, that is) but to get this kind of behavior out of the picture.

      "Nothing that you sell is so good or so vital that we will put up with your abuses in order to purchase it" is an attitude that I wish were more widespread. How this plays out and whether that message is actually sent will be interesting indeed.
      • by Arthur B. (806360)
        Since here the people "taking a stand" are the same who make the law, it's not about saying "we will not tolerate illegal behavior from you", it's about saying "we will not tolerate behavior we don't like from you".
      • by CarpetShark (865376) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:33AM (#23025170)

        I'd say we all win when a strong message is sent to large corporations that says "we will not tolerate illegal behavior from you, and we will stand by this principle even if this means we must make some sacrifices". It's called having a spine.


        Well said. I mean, come on... public money vs. convicted criminal organisation... it doesn't take a lot of ethics to work out that Microsoft products shouldn't be bought by our governments.
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:46AM (#23025356)

      If Microsoft wasn't the best choice, why elminate them from the process?

      Microsoft has repeatedly broken the law to become the "best choice" by introducing artificial problems with competing products. It's the same issue as "should the government sign a contract with a concrete supplier who has the lowest price, but also has been repeatedly convicted of blowing of their competitors' factories and hiding bodies in the concrete they sell." According to the laws, no the EU should not be giving contract to either MS or this hypothetical concrete supplier.

      Who is going to benifit the most from this, and what is the connection to this group?

      It doesn't matter who benefits the most. The idea is for the the EU people to benefit by discouraging criminal acts that are harmful to them. If anyone else benefits, it is incidental.

      Is there an eu msft that they are trying to shepard[sic] to the big time, or is it simple corruption?

      Umm, I don't even understand what question you're trying to ask.

      Who wins with MS out of the picture?

      The people of the EU win.

  • I wonder who Heidi Rühle's campaign contributors are. (Follow the money.) If I were a Green party supporter, I'd be pissed: my leadership ought to be focused on (duh) the environment and human health, not which way software contracts are steered down in IT.
    • by neongrau (1032968) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:10AM (#23024864)
      Green party != Greenpeace

      After all it's a political party, and they must have more on their agenda than environmental and health issues.

      Not every green party member can be minister for environment and/or health.

    • by AccUser (191555) <[ku.oc.esoat] [ta] [ghm]> on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:11AM (#23024872) Homepage

      If I were a Green party supporter, I'd be pissed: my leadership ought to be focused on (duh) the environment and human health, not which way software contracts are steered down in IT.
      Each new release of Microsoft software drives hardware sales to meet the increased CPU and RAM requirements. Surely this is an environmental concern.

      Using GNU/Linux on older hardware is more than feasible.
    • by Sique (173459) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:11AM (#23024876) Homepage
      Differently than in the U.S. most EU parlamentarians don't have an individual mandate, but are sent to the parliament by their party, which has to win the necessary seats in the parliament in the elections (so called list mandates).

      So, Heidi Ruehle (if you don't have Umlauts, use 'ue' instead) doesn't have individual campaign contributors, more to the contrary, the rules of the Green Party demand a strict differentiation between "being in office" and "having a mandate".
    • The green party is never concerned about bringing high paying jobs to EU (new programming possibilities), to replace the lower jobs that will go to China. Keep in mind, that back in the early 90's, many DOS and apple based companies did not make the jump to windows. They are LONG gone because their competitors jumped. I am guessing that many American companies will fight moving to Linux and will see competitors spring up elsewhere.
    • by Benanov (583592) * <brian@kemp.member@fsf@org> on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:21AM (#23024998) Journal

      Environment? It's commonly accepted knowledge around here that later versions of MS operating systems require beefier hardware and upgrades than certain darling competitors. (I'm running modern versions of Ubuntu on computers my workplace was throwing out.)

      That's increased power, more equipment that has to be recycled (lest it be landfilled), and more goverment money that could be spent on an environmental or human health program that instead goes into the pockets of an American Corporation.

      To be honest, it's actually a rule that should be followed, not some stupid play for power and media attention. Those convicted of abusing their power aren't eligible for government contracts.

      • by Ironsides (739422)
        So, first thing. My current computers are more power efficient than my older ones. P3s are a power hog and my current Core2 Duo uses less power over the entire system.

        Second,
        and more goverment money that could be spent on an environmental or human health program that instead goes into the pockets of an American Corporation.

        So, should the US Government decide that it would forbid itself from purchasing anything from Europe as money would then go into the pockets of a European Corporation, you would s
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          So, first thing. My current computers are more power efficient than my older ones. P3s are a power hog and my current Core2 Duo uses less power over the entire system.

          This is a very good point, but I think it is undermined by several other ones. First, power consumption is not he only environmental cost of hardware upgrades. Old hardware needs to be disposed of and has a lot of hazardous materials in it. Often, this stuff ends up in landfills, or being very messily recycled in the third world resulting in significant poisoning of water supplies. Even if it is recycled properly, that is an additional cost in both money and energy used.

          Second, the computing power neede

    • by aztektum (170569) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:39AM (#23025240)
      Your complaint makes no sense. Elected officials should be enforcing *ALL* the rules, not just a few that helped get them elected.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FridayBob (619244)
      If Heidi had been a member of a German conservative party and had been asking whether or not it was right for the EU to use Open Source Software, then I would indeed wonder who her campaign contributers were, seeing as these days it's mainly Microsoft that would stand to gain from such a measure.

      However, seeing as she is actually a member of a more left wing party and her proposal only stands to disadvantage the software market's 800-pound gorilla, I seriously doubt that she's receiving any extraordinary
  • I hope they are... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cliffiecee (136220) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:03AM (#23024766) Homepage Journal
    According to TFA, the ban would only last five years. That's an apt punishment for Microsoft- other vendors and possibly open source contributers gain five years of experience supporting an "exclusive" market. As well, Microsoft might actually learn how to play nicely with the rest of the software world, and to compete fairly and deal honestly- competing more with innovation and excellence, rather than trying to subvert and corrupt everything around them.

    (/me crossing fingers)
  • Yes. They should be barred. For Ever.

    Next Question.

    (Otherwise we won't have a Star-Trek future. If MSFT keeps going that guy will never get off the face of the planet to meet the Vulcans)
  • by Biotech9 (704202) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:09AM (#23024852) Homepage
    For a start this is not EU-wide. Basically there is an EU directive that states EU members are allowed to block contracts from companies breaking the rules listed in Article 93,
     

    1. Candidates or tenderers shall be excluded from participation in a procurement procedure if:

    (a) they are bankrupt or being wound up, are having their affairs administered by the courts, have entered into an arrangement with creditors, have suspended business activities, are the subject of proceedings concerning those matters, or are in any analogous situation arising from a similar procedure provided for in national legislation or regulations;
    (b) they have been convicted of an offence concerning their professional conduct by a judgment which has the force of res judicata;

    (c) they have been guilty of grave professional misconduct proven by any means which the contracting authority can justify;

    (d) they have not fulfilled obligations relating to the payment of social security contributions or the payment of taxes in accordance with the legal provisions of the country in which they are established or with those of the country of the contracting authority or those of the country where the contract is to be performed;

    (e) they have been the subject of a judgment which has the force of res judicata for fraud, corruption, involvement in a criminal organisation or any other illegal activity detrimental to the Communities' financial interests;

    (f) following another procurement procedure or grant award procedure financed by the Community budget, they have been declared to be in serious breach of contract for failure to comply with their contractual obligations.

    2. Candidates or tenderers must certify that they are not in one of the situations listed in paragraph 1.
    But that is not a mandatory for all EU states, it is only mandatory for EU institutions and some member states. But even that is a pretty massive lump of the EU market and would sting like hell (the ban would be for 5 years). Not only that but imagine the resources turned onto moving from MS to Open source solutions. It could end MS as a major player in the EU institutions and that would knock on into the private sector.

    Not to mention the added bonus of all that cash heading into European projects like KDE and linux instead of overseas.

    Not sure what the American Gov would think of it though...
    • It would be really interesting is if this threat snowballed into a migration to OSS from MSFT to pre-empt a perceived problem - you know, like the whole MSFT patent threat thing appears to have been intended to do to Linux adoption.

    • by DarkOx (621550)

      Stings like hell

      Are you kidding don't you know how these things actually work.

      Step one: Legislative arm decides to make themselves look importation, so they create some ban on M$ software purchases
      Step two: Administrative arm convinces legislative arm its time for major upgrades.
      Step three: Funds are approved.
      Step four: Wait for the public to forget the particulars of step 1
      Step five: Administrative arm makes massive M$ purchases before ban in step one takes effect.
      Step six: Microsoft Profits
      Step seven: Ban expires just i

    • by Kijori (897770)

      Not only that but imagine the resources turned onto moving from MS to Open source solutions. It could end MS as a major player in the EU institutions and that would knock on into the private sector.

      I'm not convinced that it would have quite the effect you envisage. This would prohibit European institutions from procuring new software from Microsoft. They would still be able to use their current software - which I expect they would, rather than spending vast sums on retraining - and it's not even clear to me that they couldn't buy Microsoft products through an intermediary.

      From the language of the rules, it sounds like this is designed to stop the EU procuring goods or services from shady distributors

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I"m an American and I would like it to happen for the simple reason that our JustUs Dept. wimped out on it when they had the chance to bring MS to heel. Another reason is that every competitor they eliminated is every choice I could have had for software. God, how I miss the Amiga.
  • **Every** company in the contracts procurement game would probably run afoul of these and numerous other rules. In gov't contracting the rules are there to ensure contracts go to the largest contractors.

    SmallContractor wins? Fine.
    Step 1. BigContractor appeals the award on technicalities like this.
    Step 2. While the appeal is on, BigContractor uses the appeal as a stick to extract some of the awarded value from the SmallContractor.
    Step 3. Profit! When they get their vig, BigContractor drops appeal.
  • Looks can be deceiving. I think excluding a source of solutions (as bad as we claim it is, regardless) could have a negative impact on the market and competitive. Of course Microsoft could be engaged in underhanded tactics (vis ISO standardization of Office Open XML..). I'd like to think that Microsoft's ubiquity may very well have raised the bar/baseline for many different software products.

    Ubiquity of the (somewhat decent, I guess) baseline bundled Windows Mediaplayer results in raising the bar in c
    • by Benanov (583592) *
      Consider this. If Microsoft had not been such a bad boy, we would not be in this mess, now would we?
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:50PM (#23026310)

      I think excluding a source of solutions (as bad as we claim it is, regardless) could have a negative impact on the market and competitive.

      You do realize that MS is under threat of being banned for the crime of undermining the free market and using criminal actions to make competing products artificially worse, right? How exactly would removing them from bidding on a subset of new contracts for the next 5 years negatively impact competition? There are still dozens of companies with solutions that could bid and compete with one another fairly. In fact, companies that have not bothered investing in those markets and competing because they knew it would result in very poor ROI, would now have financial incentive to invest in competing solutions. I really don't see how you think this would negatively effect competition.

      Of course Microsoft could be engaged in underhanded tactics (vis ISO standardization of Office Open XML..).

      Microsoft has been engaged in underhanded tactics and after years and years of slow court proceedings they were convicted. The law says that certain government agencies should not give new contracts to companies convicted in this manner for 5 years in order to insure that companies that have been following the law have a chance to compete, instead of having to go up against a company who may be winning contracts solely because their criminal actions have allowed them to undercut others or otherwise prevent them from providing a bid on projects.

      I'd like to think that Microsoft's ubiquity may very well have raised the bar/baseline for many different software products.

      You'd like to think that? Why? Most software products follow the standard market model. Investors look at a market and potential ROI. They then invest in the markets they think will provide the best ROI. When one company has a huge influence in a market, that allows them to use that influence to break compatibility with others, thereby introducing an artificial problem with that competitor. This means the "monopolist" can make more money with less effort to compete. It also means investors looking at the market see that investing in that market will have to account for trying to work around these artificial compatibility problems in addition to other costs, and at the same time they will always have a very well funded competitor who can take a loss in the short term to undercut them on cost. In short, very few companies invest in those markets and fewer products and innovations result. This is one of the main reasons why antitrust abuse was banned in the first place. It slows down innovation in a market, not speeds it up. I think you have a very wrongheaded idea as to what influence MS has had on markets. Think 8 years after the invention of tabbed browsing before most users saw it. Think 18 years since the first desktop OS to introduce spell checking for all applications, and 90% of users still don't have it.

      Ubiquity of the (somewhat decent, I guess) baseline bundled Windows Mediaplayer results in raising the bar in competing media players (iTunes, Winamp?, etc.)

      Are you joking? The top two media players are shipped by companies who bundle them with products they have a monopoly or near monopoly on. What does that say about the quality of the players themselves? They aren't competing based upon the merits of the players, but upon the relative popularity of Windows and iPods respectively. For years most users who tried ripping their CD collection put CDs into their computer, told it to rip them, then discovered it had ripped to WMA format and added DRM to prevent them from copying it to any other device, including the most popular portable player. Then consumers had to install different software or figure out how to change the settings and do it all over again. That is not quality. That is the epitome of a really, really poorly made piece of software dominating despite being horribly inferior, and pe

  • by BanjoBob (686644) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:44AM (#23025326) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft has repeatedly shown that they really don't give a damn about rules. They are for everybody except Microsoft. Laws... The same thing.

    Regarding Ethics, Morals, etc. Those are for wimps. These are not in the Microsoft vocabulary.

    Microsoft expects to violate every norm of civilized society in order to maintain their market position. The world be damned.

    It appears that only the EU has the balls to stand up to Microsoft and try and make them behave. Will it work? I doubt it but, it is making Microsoft stand up and notice. I see that MS has just released well over 50,000 pages of secret programming info to the EU so maybe (very small maybe) something good may come of this.

    I really don't understand why any company needs to corrupt society as much as Microsoft does to maintain their position. Wouldn't it be cheaper to do provide a superior product honestly?
  • Even here in the U.S., Microsoft is a criminally convicted monopolist. G.W.Bush would probably "pardon" them if that were the case, but still.
  • by PPH (736903) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:23PM (#23025920)

    ... if its a small government for sale, I think they should be allowed to buy it.

    Leave the big ones, like Great Britain, for the US to buy.

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