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EU Fines Microsoft $613 Million, Officially 1186

Decaffeinated Jedi writes "As reported by, the European Union has hit Microsoft with a record US$613 million fine after a five-year investigation, finding the company guilty of abusing the 'near-monopoly' of the Windows operating system. Microsoft has been given 90 days to make a European version of Windows available without a media player and 120 days to give programming codes to rivals in the server market to allow 'full interoperability' with desktops running Windows. Microsoft plans to appeal the decision." Other readers point to coverage at the BBC, ZDNet, Reuters (here carried by Yahoo!), and
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EU Fines Microsoft $613 Million, Officially

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  • I hope.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by millahtime ( 710421 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:15AM (#8654899) Homepage Journal
    I hope that the EU actually sticks by its guns. That is one thing the US has not done. I hope the EU sticks to a punishment because M$ gets away with it they will only cross that line a little further if they end up getting off.
  • Quite right too (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zoney_ie ( 740061 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:17AM (#8654909)
    Media player being bundled costs the consumer money even if they don't want it. It also allows Microsoft to further leverage its market position once WMP is ubiqitous!
    As for the 'orders' on API documentation? Woohoo.

    Microsoft is the perfect example of how capitalism needs a tight rein for it to work to the benefit of people, not big corporations!
  • by toesate ( 652111 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:17AM (#8654913) Homepage Journal
    Quote BBC []: Microsoft has a cash pile of more than $50bn, so even a fine on this scale - a record for the EU in an antitrust case - is unlikely to hurt it commercially.

    How can the punishment serve a deterent, if the fine does not hurt??

  • Unbelievable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Space cowboy ( 13680 ) * on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:18AM (#8654917) Journal

    Microsoft claims that it should not be fined at all because it did not know its behaviour would breach EU law.

    Right. Of course they didn't know. They just set up shop in a different country and assumed that US law would prevail. What's wrong with that ? (Hint: lots!)

    Another quote:

    "In the EU's judgment, Microsoft must refrain from using any commercial, technological or contractual terms that would have the effect of "rendering the unbundled version of Windows less attractive or performing. In particular, it must not give PC manufacturers a discount conditional on their buying Windows together with the Windows Media player."

    Well, no wonder they're going to appeal, that removes 90% of their business practice!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:18AM (#8654927)
    Give the lame Bill Gates can pay the fine with pocket change cracks a rest.

    The restrictions on FUTURE MS actions is why MS is pissing in their pants over this ruling.

  • by Wacky_Wookie ( 683151 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:19AM (#8654928) Homepage Journal
    $613m is a lot of money, but will Microsoft try to use cupons, or "donate" software to schools, thus locking in more Microsoft users from a young age?

    If the EU is smart it will force Microsoft to donate to CASH to open source, or educational groups, thus allowing people to break the Monoply by their own choice.
  • Re:Unbelievable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iapetus ( 24050 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:20AM (#8654941) Homepage
    Whether they knew or not (and if they didn't, they should fire their legal department) is irrelevant. Ignorance of the law is not seen as a valid excuse for breaking it.

    I wonder who'll be picking up their copy of the relevant code in 120 days to help with Linux coding efforts to provide Windows interoperability? :)
  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:21AM (#8654944) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft will appeal, and the EU courts estimate it will take 5 years until a decision is made.
  • by zoney_ie ( 740061 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:21AM (#8654956)
    90 days to sell a version of Windows minus WMP. AND they must ensure there's no disincentive to those buying it (e.g. negligably cheaper, or more expensive all told).

    120 days to provide FULL documentation on Windows code interfaces? EXPLICITLY to help their competitors have a level playing field on the Windows platform?

    The precedent set by this and implications for the future?

    OW! I think it hurts a LOT. Plus being 'ordered' to do stuff really dents the pride and knocks the wind out of them.

    The implication too is, "we could have gone for 10% of revenues", watch yourself.
  • Re:why WMP ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Azghoul ( 25786 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:23AM (#8654977) Homepage
    Al Capone murdered a couple people here and there (and ordered a couple other killings), participated in every sort of organized crime... they took him down for tax evasion.

    When you know someone is evil you get 'em on whatever you can manage.
  • by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:24AM (#8654988) Homepage
    How can the punishment serve a deterent, if the fine does not hurt??

    Because the fine is not the punishment. That's just the wrist-slap, although admittedly it's a harder one than normal. Because of the high value the press are focusing on this, but it's not the real action.

    No, the meat of this decision is the forcing of the unbundling and the opening up of specifications. That's the punishment, not the cash.


  • Re:Money? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Conor Turton ( 639827 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:25AM (#8654993)
    It's nothing to do with the money. Microsoft are crapping themselves because of the other conditions.

    Within 120 days Microsoft is required "to disclose complete and accurate interface documentation which would allow non-Microsoft work group servers to achieve full interoperability with Windows PCs and servers. This will enable rival vendors to develop products that can compete on a level playing field in the work group server operating system market. The disclosed information will have to be updated each time Microsoft brings to the market new versions of its relevant products." This is at least in theory a pretty absolute requirement; Microsoft has to publish whatever it takes in order for rival vendors' servers "to achieve full interoperability with Windows PCs and servers, and it must provide updates where necessary.

    Microsoft currently licence this and it is this which they use to sell server OSes and apps using the ease of interoperability as a main reason. Server OSes and stuff such as MS Exchange earn them alot more than desktop OEM versions of XP. Ease of interoperability is what is getting companies to sign up to the ripoff Licencing 6 scheme. The requirement to open up the server interoperability means that Linux will go storming in big style.

  • Time lines (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amichalo ( 132545 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:25AM (#8655001)
    Aren't the time lines for these things rediculous? From the time an investigation starts, trail is held, conviction is appealed and re-tried, it takes about a decade to exact "justice" on an international corporation.

    In the meantime, the victims such as smaller competing firms and consumers have long since picked up the pieces and moved on. The companies at the amepx of it all aren't even relevant anylonger (Netscape?).

    Until the law can put some spring in their step, a $600 Million fine 10 years after putting awa your competition is paultry.

    Break up Microsoft - THAT is the solution!
  • Re:why WMP ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by klaasb ( 523629 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:27AM (#8655021)
    WMP is where the next battle will be fought.

    ITMS vs. MSMS (MicroSoft Music Store).

    I don't want my music in .wma format.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:27AM (#8655027)
    The point is that the EU is trying to make MS less anticompetitive. That would set an excellent precedent, and is what Ballmer & Co. object to so strongly.

    This is something that should have been done here in the US long ago, but unfortunately our government is for sale to the highest bidder.
  • Re:Not Good Enough (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Conor Turton ( 639827 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:29AM (#8655038)
    You're not too bright are you? THIS DOES MEAN OTHER OSES. The main reason Linux has issues with Windows is that it has to "guess" alot of the blanks Microsoft deliberately keep to themselves.
  • Re:Quite right too (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DarkSarin ( 651985 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:30AM (#8655051) Homepage Journal
    Except that M$ would not have gotten where they are without certain key lawsuits and contracts. I personally think that unfettered capitalism is not really the way to go.
  • Re:Quite right too (Score:1, Insightful)

    by mirko ( 198274 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:31AM (#8655052) Journal
    So what if Microsoft is a monopoly?
    Maybe that's what the market wants,

    if the market was supposed to consist of only ONE vendor, it would be called "MS", not "market".
  • by rnd() ( 118781 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:33AM (#8655083) Homepage
    What happened to the notion of freedom, so rarely espoused or valued on Slashdot, of freedom from government intervention?

    How can you believe that Linux is a viable competetor to Microsoft some of the time, yet support government intervention against Microsoft intended to make other competetors viable?

    This position, held by most Slashdotters who have commented on this issue, is highly contradictory.

    You can easily buy a PC without Windows on it... and if you don't like Microsoft you can use one of the many alternatives. If you are a business owner and want to stream media content, you can choose from one of the many alternatives.

    1) People don't choose Microsoft because they have to.
    2) People don't choose Microsoft because they're stupid.

    People choose Microsoft because it offers benefits that they consider worthwhile, and as Microsoft's success as a business shows, people are willing to pay for these benefits.

    So instead of supporting state action to help Microsoft's would be competetors, why not support alternatives that really stand a chance at success? Does anyone really think Sun Microsystems is part of the future?
  • by Weird O'Puns ( 749505 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:33AM (#8655084)

    But that's exactly what's happening. Donating software to schools isn't act of good will from Microsoft. It's just a clever marketing tactic.

    1.Donate software to schools
    2.People get use it
    3.People will by your products because they are used to them

    What do you think the MS vs. Pentagon [] thing was all about?
  • Re:Quite right too (Score:0, Insightful)

    by kayen_telva ( 676872 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:37AM (#8655125)
    typical "i dont understand what capitalism is" bs.

    Unrestrained, true capitalism will lead to a market dominated by huge corporations, who will then make big brother look like a sunday cartoon.

    btw, I am not even close to being a socialist. Feel free to paint me that way though.
  • by seven of five ( 578993 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:38AM (#8655136)
    No, Windows isn't a drug, but it's a fact that people tend to stick with/prefer/seek out what they're accustomed to. Learning new software, user interface, etc is a pain for anybody, so why bother. M$'s practice of 'paying fines' with software vouchers is ingenious and culturally insidious. Also, it's irresponsible/ignorant on the part of gov't to accept it. M$ just exploits the fact that bureaucrats are dumb.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:38AM (#8655140)
    And trust-busting is part of government regulation of capitalism. Get over it.
  • Re:I hope.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spellraiser ( 764337 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:41AM (#8655173) Journal

    The EU will very likely stick to its guns. The only reason why the US didn't begins with 'W'.

    It's a good thing that the EU is made up of so many different countries... in this case anyway.

  • by d99-sbr ( 568719 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:42AM (#8655183) Journal
    Things like:

    * Microsoft Exchange
    * Active Directory
    * The non-standard Kerberos extensions
    * Terminal Services for Windows

    and probably dozens more, where buying the server locks you into buying the client.
  • by groomed ( 202061 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:47AM (#8655234)
    The purpose isn't to destroy companies. Destroying a company like Microsoft would hurt customers even more than monopolistic practices. That would be diametrically opposed to the intended effect of the ruling.

    Also, $613 million is a serious figure. Nick Leeson broke the Barings Bank in the '90s on of just over twice that amount. Enron (partly) collapsed over a $563 million deficit. Remember, it's not like those $50 billion are in a big jar that everybody can take some of when they feel like it. Divisions are accountable, managers are accountable, books have to be kept. Combined with the other rulings, this should be understood as a severe penalty for Microsoft Europe.
  • by negacao ( 522115 ) * <> on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:48AM (#8655243)
    It isn't the government's place to tell a company what they can or cannot sell.

    it is when the company has killed off competition via illegal means.
  • Re:Unbelievable (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:48AM (#8655247) Homepage Journal
    How many times have I told a cop "I didn't know that was illegal..." when I got busted. You know what they always told me? "Ignorance is no excuse"
  • by tehcyder ( 746570 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:49AM (#8655252) Journal
    It isn't the government's place to tell a company what they can or cannot sell

    So you wouldn't mind if my company sold your kids drugs? And there'd be no problem with me selling nuclear weapons to Islamic fundamentalists?

  • Re:why WMP ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eyeye ( 653962 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:49AM (#8655257) Homepage Journal
    Hmmm.. good point...
    if only there was a european competitor to IE ready to start making a fuss,

    ahah.... we have a candidate [].

  • Re:Not Good Enough (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ThogScully ( 589935 ) <> on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:50AM (#8655270) Homepage
    I think you're interpreting the sentence wrong. I read it that Microsoft has to give relevant information to competing products that they can interoperate with Windows machines. What really differentiates a server from a desktop these days, except for how its setup.

    Ultimately, if Microsoft has to allow other server products to interact with its desktops, then other desktops will also be able to interact with it's desktops and when Microsoft makes a server worth using, it'll be based on their desktops, so they will play along too.
  • by EpsCylonB ( 307640 ) <> on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:51AM (#8655275) Homepage
    Microsoft has a cash pile of more than $50bn, so even a fine on this scale - a record for the EU in an antitrust case - is unlikely to hurt it commercially.

    I think people saying that this amount of money is nothing to microsoft are being a bit naive. Just because MS can afford it doesn't mean that they don't appreciate the fact that this is still a hell of a lot of money. The last thing MS wants is a precedent that whenever they get caught for breaking a rule the local government is entitled to take $500 million off of them.
  • by softwave ( 145750 ) <david@coppens.advalvas@be> on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:51AM (#8655280)
    Lets turn things the other way around. Hypotheticaly, do you think an American court would hesitate to fine a European company a big amount? As big as it might be?

    Why did the Bush administration raised taxes on steel imports from outside the US?

    Pure economical protectionalism, my friend.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:52AM (#8655289)
    People choose Microsoft because other people chose Microsoft / because everybody chooses Microsoft. This makes Microsoft a monopoly. So far, this is ok.

    Microsoft then makes sure it's very hard / very costly for people to chose alternatives. If you are a business owner and want to stream media content, you have to include Microsoft formats because that's what everybody has. In fact, paying for additional formats would be stupid, since everyone can view WMP, right?

    This is (as the EU sees it) an abuse of monopoly. We, the people, have decided that this is not ok and companies shouldn't be allowed to do it. Hence, the ruling.

  • by Jameth ( 664111 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:53AM (#8655293)
    If you had bothered to read the article, rather than falling into the fuckwad category, you would have noticed that:

    "The biggest antitrust punishment until now was a 462-million-euro fine imposed against Roche Holding of Switzerland in November 2001, for its role in a series of vitamin cartels."
  • Re:why WMP ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by caitsith01 ( 606117 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:53AM (#8655303) Journal
    And I don't want my music in any format related to Quicktime.

    Do you think uncle Steve will oblige, just because he's from a somewhat smaller, trendier company?

    I am so sick of this 'Apple is the underdog' bs. WMA sucks. Apple's formats also suck in a number of ways, although perhaps not quite as many.
  • by Balaitous ( 126540 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:54AM (#8655307) Homepage
    By allowing Microsoft to charge royalties on implementing interoperability interfaces when they are covered by patents ot other titles, it makes it impossible for a free software project to implement interoperability. The Commission once again shows that it cares only for competition ... among multinationals.
    For the Europeans: this is one more reason to reject software patents. "Encore un effort ..."
    Curiously the French version of the press release says "reasonable and non-discriminatory" while the English only says only "reasonable". I guess that's meant to please the French and Microsoft at the same time :-)
  • Re:I hope.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CdBee ( 742846 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:54AM (#8655309)
    I share the hope that the EU manages what the US Dept of Justice flunked.

    However, as a citizen of the EU, I'd advise against getting your hopes too high. Our legal systems have considerable ability to delay and obstruct, for companies with enough money and determination.

    The US DoJ looked set to implement a proper solution just a few years ago, but the election of President Bush put an end to that.

    Changes of government in European states are not infrequent and can change the direction of the whole loose alliance that is the EU. Don't overlook the possibility that if the EU's governments move to the right, this case may be damaged.

    In fairness though, Europe's courts are less subject to policital interference, so here's to hoping!
  • by thrill12 ( 711899 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:55AM (#8655312) Journal
    ...that in a time when incredible shortcomings of Microsoft's OS are found, some of you actually talk about 'American/European (skewed) relationships' and how 'unfair this is to an American company'.

    For once look at the big picture, and forget that Microsoft is an American company, and the EU filed a European verdict:
    Microsoft is a major global player in an international market ruled mainly by European and American companies together.

    In this playing field it is only fair that a referree - no matter if US or EU - rules when a player crosses the legal line.
    It is to the benefit of both the Europeans as the Americans in the long term, and we will pick the fruits of this decision in time.
  • by bfg9000 ( 726447 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:56AM (#8655322) Homepage Journal
    ...but the only reason this is a "record" fine is because our own government CAVED IN and let them off the hook after a decade-long trial. After spending a *huge* amount of money in court, the US government sternly told MS they had to promise to release a service pack.

    If our government had stuck to its guns from the first time of many that MS was taken to court, the tech landscape here would be vastly different, I think. Hey, BeOS might even be alive, and Linux and Macs would CERTAINLY have more momentum than they do!

    Even if MS pays this in cash rather than software, it's still pocket change, currently sitting happily in the MS account and earning them interest. So they won't earn as much interest this year. Big deal. This won't change anything. At best it's less money for MS to pay SCO with.
  • Re:I hope.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hype7 ( 239530 ) <> on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:57AM (#8655335) Journal
    I hope that the EU actually sticks by its guns. That is one thing the US has not done.

    The most incredible thing (and kind of funny in a shocking way) is that Microsoft is trying to use that very reason as some kind of excuse as to why it shouldn't be fined in Europe. The argument runs something along the lines of "... but we can do this in America! You can't fine us if we can do it in America!"

    Hey, news flash for you Billy boy! In Europe, you comply with European law, and it's a lot harder to buy a few politicians to exert political pressure on the justice system.

    -- james
  • by jdifool ( 678774 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:58AM (#8655338) Homepage Journal
    Because the punishment is about law, not about money.

    It will be a reference point for all the governments that could wish to sue Microsoft.

    Landmarks in the judiciary system are important. The EU ruling is the first one concerning Microsoft.

    And some people at the Comission just asked to apply the highest fine, ie 10% of the benefits. But the EU can't afford an open war like that, at least not for the moment...


  • Re:Quite right too (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Samhain138 ( 683125 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:59AM (#8655349)
    I dislike MS, but...
    All MS are doing is giving their free software along with (hopefully not) your OS.
    It's like suing a computer seller for including a free keyboard of vendor X and not giving a chance to vendor Y.
    This, my friends, is competition.
    Sounds even fair for me.
    Now, there are other things that are honestly dirty that microsoft has done for us to talk about...
  • by Colonel Angus ( 752172 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:59AM (#8655354)
    No they wouldn't. Did the US gov't do all they could do to stop Microsoft? No. It was a joke. If Microsoft was European and had the anti-trust brought against them in the US I think you'd have seen a far stiffer ruling. And I don't know that I agree with you that they were come down on hard. If Microsoft made what *I* make a year, it'd be a bitch. That fine is laughable at best to them. As for the rest of the decision, it's well deserved.
  • by cozziewozzie ( 344246 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:00AM (#8655363)
    What happened to the notion of freedom, so rarely espoused or valued on Slashdot, of freedom from government intervention?
    How about freedom from large megacorps shoving crap down our throats because they have a monopoly and are rich? How about freedom to use the internet without a monopolist breaking every known standard just to spoil it for everyone who doesn't feed them money? A government has to intervene when the laws of the country are being broken. Surely you support government intervention in the case of robbers. Why would a multi-billion dollar company be immune from prosecution after they were repeatedly found guilty of breaking laws?
    You can easily buy a PC without Windows on it...
    Yeah, try a brand-name laptop.
    1) People don't choose Microsoft because they have to.

    2) People don't choose Microsoft because they're stupid.
    On the contrary, most people use Microsoft either because they have to (work policy, came preinstalled, don't know anything else, bank requires it, games require it, Adobe requires it) or because they're stupid.
    So instead of supporting state action to help Microsoft's would be competetors, why not support alternatives that really stand a chance at success?
    I thought that's what most Slashdotters did? Ever notice how many Linux/BSD/Free Software stories get submitted?
  • Prediction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by edxwelch ( 600979 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:01AM (#8655371)
    We will soon see a new set of installation dependancies for .NET framework, MSXML, etc.:
    "Requires Microsoft Media Player 9.0, greater to run".
    Well, it worked the last time!
  • by flogger ( 524072 ) <non@nonegiven> on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:03AM (#8655378) Journal
    NPR this morning was stating that Microsoft will appeal (Wow that is a suprise). They said that an Appeal could last up to seven years. In that time, longhorn v2 will be out and support for XP will be cut off. This will make the case a moot point. Even if they loose the appeal, Microsoft won't pay.

    Swift justice, it seems, works just as fast in Europe as it does here. :-)
  • Re:I hope.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mcowie ( 744258 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:05AM (#8655404)
    It does not matter if the EU stickes to its guns M$ will just keep it tied in appeal for 5 years. It's not going to be more than a slap on the wrist. It's the consumers that need to send the message
  • by xutopia ( 469129 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:07AM (#8655422) Homepage
    My sister chose Microsoft because it came with her Dell 3 years ago. She also chose MS Office because it opens MS Office documents. She would use OpenOffice except it doesn't open MS Word files with 100% accuracy in conversion.

    People don't choose MS because they like it but because they need to. The nuance is what makes it an unfair monopoly.

  • Re:I hope.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:08AM (#8655440)
    So let me get this straight. Smokers are not to blame for smoking but the people who provide them WITH WHAT THEY WANT are???

    News for you: Cigarettes have been labeled since the 1960s. Consumers are free to purchase and use any legal product. No one forces them to. This is typical modern rationale: No one is responsible for what they do.

    The government went after tobacco for one reason only: MONEY.

    I would suspect the same for MS. Your problem lies with the distributors who let themselves be bullied by MS. They could have offered alternatives(OS-wise), but they took the money and ran.

  • Re:Unbelievable (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PainKilleR-CE ( 597083 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:18AM (#8655532)
    So because there is a loophole in US that allowed them to cary on with anti competitve mesures they wan't to apeal the EU decision

    No, they'll appeal the EU decision regardless of US law simply because the judgment went against them. In almost any case that allows appeal it's almost a given.

    The point that I was trying to make is that the US and EU have defined "anti-competetive practices" when it comes to Microsoft in opposing manners. In the US, it's illegal for Microsoft to "bundle" software with Windows, they must show that it's "integrated" with Windows, and provides basic functionality to the OS that makes it hard or impossible to remove without reducing functionality of the system.

    In the EU, they're forcing Microsoft to make the software seperate and bundled, which would put them in violation of their US settlements. What MS has done to comply with US law has apparently put them in conflict with EU law, and compliance with EU law may put them in conflict with US law. It's not a matter of loopholes, it's a matter of opposing judgments from different parts of the world.
  • by RoLi ( 141856 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:19AM (#8655537)
    $613 million? Oooh, not. That's pocket change to Microsoft, who has a war chest of billions of dollars -- but of course this won't stop it from passing the cost along to its customers, and blaming the EU for increasing the price of Microsoft products.

    You sure don't understand basic economics. The vendor will charge whatever the market is willing to pay, no matter how much it cost to make the product.

    That's why about 90% of the Windows- and Office-prices is pure profit while they are losing money on XBox, WinCE and many other things.

    If anything, the punishments will lower prices for Europeans because of increased competition. Just look at Thailand where Microsoft dropped their Win+Office prices from 600$ to 37$: []

    Always remember: Only the loyal customers get ripped off. Those who for example run their servers on Unix get huge discounts (like Munich)

  • by aug24 ( 38229 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:20AM (#8655558) Homepage
    It isn't the government's place to tell a company what they can or cannot sell.


    But if you are the only provider of X (a legal monopoly) and you leverage that monopoly to drive out providers of Y and gain a second monopoly, then it becomes the government's place to tell you what you can and can't do.



  • Re:Quite right too (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:25AM (#8655597) Homepage
    Microsoft's very existence is dependent on copyright law: it is a creature of government regulation.
  • Re:I hope.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by perly-king-69 ( 580000 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:25AM (#8655598)
    No, no, no, you don't get it.
    They are a monopoly on desktop OSs. There is no problem with that in itself. What they have been convicted of is of leveraging that monopoly to gain an unfair advantage in other markets. Namely, the media player market.
  • by loconet ( 415875 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:26AM (#8655602) Homepage
    According to NZHerald [] and, some members of parliament are not happy with the EU's decisions.

    "This ruling is yet another example of the EU assaulting a successful American industry and policies that support our economic growth," said US Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat from Microsoft's home state of Washington. She called on President George Bush to "engage" with Brussels on the case.

    ...another rexample of EU assaulting another a poor defendless honest american corporation? awww ..pfft!. it seems more like an example of how much control MS and any other big corp has over the American government.

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:27AM (#8655618) Homepage
    Do they have to publish the interfaces or just license them under NDA as in the US? If the latter it's useless.
  • by kusma ( 139069 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:32AM (#8655655) Homepage
    I think in an optimal world you would have companies that offer "Windows distributions" and giving you exactly that service -- Windows bundled with a couple of other apps that do not need to be Microsoft products (this is the difference to Microsoft doing the bundling). Say, Windows + Mozilla + StarOffice. Or even offer several different alternatives (like offer both IE and Mozilla). Then you would have choice AND convenience, like when you buy a Linux distribution.
  • Re:I hope.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by double-oh three ( 688874 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:32AM (#8655656)
    Yeah, it is kinda embarrasing for the US when Europe has to take charge to deal with our own rouge company/monopolies. We're supposed to be the strongest, so why can't we deal with our own problems?
  • by johnkoer ( 163434 ) <> on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:35AM (#8655679) Homepage Journal
    Let's say that you are pretty good at saving for your retirement and you have $200,000 in a 401k/IRA or just some funds. You make $65,000 a year have a wife and a few rugrats running around. Money isn't too tight, but you do live on a budget.

    If you do something stupid and get a fine of $2,500, that is definitely going to hurt and make you think about what you have done. You are by no means wrecked financially, but that $2,500 does make a nice little dent in your pocket book, and maybe you won't be able to take that vacation you have been looking forward to.
  • Huh??? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kombat ( 93720 ) <> on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:36AM (#8655690) Homepage
    What they have been convicted of is of leveraging that monopoly to gain an unfair advantage in other markets. Namely, the media player market.

    What "media player market?" Is there a version of Windows Media Player that costs money? All they're doing is giving stuff away. They bundled IE not to get us hooked and jack up the prices, but because an OS should come with a browser. IE is free (as in beer). MediaPlayer is free.

    Frankly, I'm getting a little tired of people who want to have their cake and eat it too. If Microsoft sold a stripped-down, bare-bones OS, people would rip on them for being such tightwads. "Richest software company on the planet, and won't even give us a friggin' media player." So instead, they bundle stuff. Stuff that should come with an OS. And we still rip on them.

    I read an article the other day that blamed Microsoft for all these virus attacks. The author was incensed, and fumed that Microsoft "should include built-in antivirus software with the OS, with automatically-updating virus definitions. That would fix all these virus problems." I thought to myself, "Sure, and at the same time, they'd be sued into oblivion by Norton, Symantec, and anyone else in the anti-virus business."

    To be honest, I think an OS should include anti-virus software. Also, all of the following:
    • Web browser.
    • Email client.
    • Media player that handles all popular formats, both audio and video.
    • Anti-virus software.
    • Zipping/unzipping software.
    • Disk management and compression utilities.
    • Basic word processor.
    • Basic imaging software.

    And probably a bunch more I can't think of off the top of my head. I expect to be able to install an OS and actually do something with the computer. Am I alone here?
  • by Beatbyte ( 163694 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:36AM (#8655703) Homepage
    It may be a big big deal for "us", but its a big big deal for Microsoft also.

    Think about how their API's are basically going open source...

    What happens when someone is building an application and referencing the API. He sees a bug. He says "Well shit I can't work on a broken piece of code. Let me fix this."

    He patches it and submits it to Microsoft. The API slowly but surely gets closer to bug free. Microsoft's API gets strengthened with thousands of bug fixes and it keeps on selling.

    Where does that leave Linux/X/KDE/Gnome/etc.? Well they can't steal code and implement it into their open source products (could you imagine if SCO was Microsoft (more directly.. not just the ca$h behind it)).

    Either way, I'd say let the boat sink. Unbundle stuff but if you open up the engine, people are going to nut and bolt it to where it should be and Microsoft will gain from it.
  • by Jokkey ( 555838 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:38AM (#8655717)

    The Wine FAQ [] states,

    The documentation is often bad, nonexistent, and even misleading where it exists, so a fair amount of reverse engineering has been necessary, particularly in the shell (Explorer) interface. The biggest problem facing Wine though is simply lack of manpower. At one point, over 5000 people were working on Windows 2000. While Wine doesn't need to replicate all of Windows (we only cover the parts needed to make Windows programs work), that's still nearly 10 times more people working simply on one release than have ever worked on Wine, in the history of the project.

    First, they say their main limitation is lack of manpower. Second, it's not that Microsoft has hidden the documentation, it's that Windows documentation "is often bad, nonexistent, and even misleading" - I've been under the impression that this is due more to sloppiness than to maliciousness on Microsoft's part, since MS, in general, benefits from making Windows an attractive program to developers, and bad docs work against this goal. I don't know that the EU ruling would make Microsoft go back and clean up their sloppy documentation.

    Depending on what interfaces Microsoft is forced to open up, I could see opening the interfaces to be a huge benefit for interoperability with Active Directory and Exchange and for programs like Samba.

  • Re:I hope.... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by jwsd ( 718491 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:46AM (#8655817)
    Take a step back. If Windows only runs on 30% of PC desktops, can Microsoft add value to its OS by introducing video/audio streaming capabilities? Is it legal then? Is it unfair then?
    I think most people would say it's ok. So for the same business behavior, it is fair when you are small and it is unfair when you are big. I would say Microsoft is punished for being too successful, not for unfair practice.
  • Re:Huh??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FatherOfONe ( 515801 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:49AM (#8655848)
    The problem comes in when a company like real or Netscape comes out with a product that is good and then Microsoft does two things.
    They come out with a similar product, bundle it in the OS and then force/threaten their OEM's not to install the competitors. That is what is wrong.

    Let's take your list. What if IBM/HP/DELL/Gateway decided to bundle:
    Mozilla (and change the default browser)
    Suns/IBM's JDK with Eclipes

    Could they do this for almost no cost? Yep. Then Microsoft would suddenly raise the cost of EACH version of windows that IBM/HP or Dell buys (Like they did to IBM. Dell got Windows for ~$10 while IBM got it for ~$100.00, and they wouldn't sign any deal with IBM for MONTHS after the new OS was released, thus killing IBM desktop sales during that time)

    So yes, I agree that I want a bunch of stuff bundled with my OS. (With the ability to not load it) But I hope that you would agree that most people want the best software bundled at the lowest price. We currenlty don't have that CHOICE. That is what is hurting consumers.

  • Re:Huh??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:52AM (#8655868) Homepage Journal
    What "media player market?" Is there a version of Windows Media Player that costs money? All they're doing is giving stuff away. They bundled IE not to get us hooked and jack up the prices, but because an OS should come with a browser. IE is free (as in beer). MediaPlayer is free.
    A better question is "Is there a streaming media server that costs money that media players require the use of", to which the answer is yes. Microsoft's goal with WMP is to provide a single media streaming platform that requires the use of Microsoft products on the server and which controls what can be used on the client end.

    They most certainly did bundle IE to "get us hooked", as came out in the original Judge Jackson DoJ anti-trust trial. IE was tightly integrated with the operating system to prevent Netscape from being able to create platform independent middleware, and it was the platform independent middleware they were most concerned about. By making using Netscape a "jarring experience" (Microsoft's words) and by encouraging the development of Microsoft-only webpages through technologies like ActiveX, Microsoft most certainly hoped to hook people on Microsoft-required content.

    I'm also baffled as to why you think that it's the job of an operating system vendor to supply a bunch of tools that have nothing to do with the functionality of an operating system. We can have a competitive market, or we can put up with OS vendors including tools that are "just about good enough" to ensure that 90% of people do not switch, and hence the market for better alternatives isn't supportable. How is that a good thing?

    Compare Firefox to IE, any number of email clients many of whom predate Outlook Express to Outlook Express, commercial virus checkers back when DOS included a Microsoft Virus Checker, etc, and ask yourself why people should be lumbered with Microsoft's third rate crap because Microsoft has killed, through the act of bundling, better alternatives?

    Now, if Dell or HP, or frickin' Gateway wants to bundle this non-operating system related software with a computer, that's one thing (and, yes, that means Apple has a perfect right to), at least them doing so ensures a competitive market. But Microsoft doing it means that Dell, HP, and Gateway, etc, have to include whatever Microsoft includes. And that's not right, that doesn't create a competitive market, and it's Microsoft muscling into a market to the detriment of customers and for the sole reason of wanting to control who runs what, who is able to create what, who is able to see what, and what tools, as a result, they have to run everywhere else.

    Right now what little choice we have is thanks to the Open Source movement, essentially a socialist enterprise (socialism in its original meaning of "a group of people working together to improve things for everyone" rather than the bizarre American "A government wanting to interfere in everything" definition), we're not seeing capitalism in its supposed "competition will improve everything" mode. It's time we did.

  • Re:I hope.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by runderwo ( 609077 ) <> on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:55AM (#8655898)
    There are things Microsoft has done that I don't think were right, but bundling software with the OS isn't one of them.
    You're right, because bundling isn't the problem. Product _tying_ is the problem.

    It is much different to say:

    "We are giving you product X with the purchase of product Y, whether you want it or not"

    than to say:

    "We are giving you product X with the purchase of product Y, and not only can you not remove product Y from your machine (as it is an integral part of the operating system), but we have taken special precautions to make sure that only product Y has access to features of product X that make it particularly useful; and by the way, your system provider signed a contract stating that they would not install product Z on this machine, so you're on your own if you want to install it. And don't complain to us if it is mysteriously disabled every now and then."

    Linux distributions don't even compare. Yes, Mozilla is bundled, but if I want to get rid of it and use something else, it's nothing more than a dpkg --purge.

    Bundling is not illegal. Product tying is legal too, except that it is a common technique by which a monopoly position is frequently abused, so it is something that frequently comes up in these cases when you are trying a company for abusing a monopoly position.

  • Re:Huh??? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by robinthecandystore ( 65190 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:55AM (#8655904)
    What "media player market?" Is there a version of Windows Media Player that costs money? All they're doing is giving stuff away. They bundled IE not to get us hooked and jack up the prices, but because an OS should come with a browser. IE is free (as in beer). MediaPlayer is free.

    Think the whole thing through.... The Media player market isn't concerned with the client! This is a war over the streaming media formats and the streaming media servers. Once WMA and WMV are standards microsoft can pump up the cost per stream sent to the client from their servers, all because they used their monopoly on the desktop to force out any viable competitors.

    Real et al dont make much cash from selling the player, its all from subscription services and licensing technology to others, like the encoders, streaming media servers and OEM deals.

  • More on the point of what you said, the fine will tell investors that fining the company is possible -- even likely -- and has relatively harsh consequences upon equity. Hence, in the right circumstances, a fine as small as US$10 million could crash Microsoft's stock 5% ... erasing billions in stock value.

    Not that I care about the economy-destroying stock speculators, mind you.
  • Re:I hope.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by soulhuntre ( 52742 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @11:11AM (#8656082) Homepage
    "but we can do this in America! You can't fine us if we can do it in America!"

    I know the last thing you want is a fact, but that's not how the argument goes.

    The argument is that actions in the US are covered by US law, and that a European nation taking punative action for things a US firm does on US soil is not a good thing.

    But hey, as long as its "M$" (in hax0r speak) getting screwed who cares how bad an idea it is, long live the myopic vengeful Penguin!

    We demand the right to steal music and software without legal interferance, save that for peopel making money!
  • Re:Huh??? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Peer ( 137534 ) <> on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @11:17AM (#8656156) Homepage
    What "media player market?" Is there a version of Windows Media Player that costs money?

    Euhh... well no. But there's these things called 'servers' that do cost money. Companies need servers to stream media to customers.
    So in deciding what server to use, does 90% installbase matter? I do think so.
  • Re:I hope.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JDBrechtel ( 48222 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @11:20AM (#8656198)
    Not that I really have a well formed opinion on the subject of Lindows/Microsoft but there is a difference. It's one thing for a government to say "You can't do this in our country OR other countries" (this is to a BUSINESS now, not an individual)...I can see fault in this but I can also see how it can stand up. HOWEVER, a government clearly cannot say "you can do this here so you can do it in other countries too". So I think both the seemingly contradicting points do not actually contradict each other.

  • by Baki ( 72515 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @11:24AM (#8656238)
    What is often forgotten is that most competitors of MSFT are also US companies, so to limit MSFT's monopoly would harm one US company, but benefit a lot of others many of which are also US companies.

    So, the economic balance does not explain the US failure to correct this economically damaging condition, there must have been another reason. Probably plain old bribes, or just stupidity from the part of the Bush government to see the economic benefit to have sound markets with sound competition.
  • by runderwo ( 609077 ) <> on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @11:31AM (#8656320)
    People choose Microsoft because it offers benefits that they consider worthwhile, and as Microsoft's success as a business shows, people are willing to pay for these benefits.
    People paying money for products is only one half of a healthy market. Innovation by the capitalists is the other half.

    Microsoft is not innovating because it doesn't have to. It has an extremely solid framework in place ranging from software interoperability trade secrets to software patents to vendor lock-in contracts, all to ensure that no one will be able to compete with them legally or that the cost of starting up will be so great that no one will bother.

    Their entire business foundation is placed upon a government intervention known as copyright, which has also not served the market. If it were 14 years and if software copyrights required registration of the machine-readable source code with the copyright office, we would already be benefiting from the Windows code of NT 3.1 vintage to serve interoperability efforts, even when they are unwilling to provide interoperability details themselves. However, instead, they are allowed to retain a perpetual monopoly on their software legacy, and any interoperability must be attained through reverse engineering. That is not a good formula for competition.

    Without competition, innovation is not happening at the rate that it would in a healthy competitive market. You can sit there and argue all day that Microsoft deserves to reap the riches of their monopoly position without government interference, but every day they sit on their haunches deciding whether it's worth bothering to improve their products, progress in the state of software engineering and the leading edge for users is being held back. I don't know what dogma you subscribe to, but economists seem to have a pretty good formula for improving society, and competition is a fundamental basis of it. Where competition does not naturally exist, it is government's job to try to stimulate it as part of a successful economic policy.

    It is utterly ridiculous that we have to depend on open source loving hobbyists and small businesses for the little innovation that comes out of the software industry today. Microsoft may be a monopoly, but they are no market leader. They are a disgrace to the computing industry. I hope this decision changes them permanently for the better.

  • Re:Money? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MysteriousPreacher ( 702266 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @11:36AM (#8656367) Journal
    Consider the two scenarios below. Do they both sound acceptable morally or legally to you?

    1. Moebius develops new cat washing machine. Markets it well, ensures he continues to maintain a quality product. Moebius is a success.

    2. Moebius develops a new cat washing machine. Markets it well, signs illegal contracts to block others from selling competing products. Moebius now has the monopoly in cat washing and releases a range of flee powder that can be added to the machine. He does not let anyone else know how to make their flea powder work with his machine, he gets a monopoly in flea-powder. A rival company launches a brand of cat brushes designed to work with the cat washing machine. Moebius prevents dealers from bundling these cat brushes with the machine in favour or the new range he has launched. Moebius now has a monopoly in cat brushes.. and so on and so on..

    Do you see a difference here? In much the same way, you would expect a convicted fraudster to be banned from running an investment fund, you should expect a convicted monopolist to be treated differently.
  • Re:Huh??? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TGK ( 262438 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @12:04PM (#8656745) Homepage Journal
    And here you've hit the crux of the issue.

    Yes, MS can sell its product to whomever it wants at whatever price it wants. UNLESS IT HOLDS A MONOPOLY.

    That's the key, that's where the rules change. That's the price of monopoly.... because you see, Dell does have to buy from Microsoft. There really isn't (as much as we Linux people would like there to be) an alternitive OS for the overwhelming majority of the world. That makes the OS market a monopolistic one, and that makes MS a monopoly.

    Read your history. You could buy steel from people other than Carnigie. You could buy oil from people other than Rockafeller. Of course, you couldn't buy much of it, and you'd be screwed by those companies in the long run. This is what Sherman Anti Trust was supposed to prevent. This is what the rejection of unregulated capitalism was all about.

    If one company has a product you need to buy and there is no real competition against this product than you get screwed unless the government steps in. It's that simple.

  • Re:I hope.... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @12:08PM (#8656797)
    > What does bug me though, is the sentiment that all wrongs in the world are the fault of President Bush.

    It may seem like that. This is because the opposition to this sentiment, as expressed by Bush's supporters is "None of it is ever his fault". It's the classic black or white, no other view tolerated falacy. If they stopped using it, the discourse would be a bit more civilised ...
  • by samfreed ( 572658 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @12:26PM (#8656997) Homepage
    European economies in bad shape?

    Living standards in most of the EU are not much short of the US, and in places much higher (e.g. Luxemburg). We pay higher taxes, but we get a lot for it: Free, Universal Healthcare, near-free higher education.

    Add healthcare and education costs costs (including insurance and lawyers) to your US tax bill, and you get a higher bill than in a typical EU country. Basically, US citizens are getting bad value, and a lot of ideological brainwashing to make 'em think they are doing well.

    Sad, really. I thoroughly recommend a trip over to Europe to any American. Trailer parks do not exist. Homelessness is rare. In many parts, police are not armed.

  • by pyros ( 61399 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @12:47PM (#8657303) Journal
    Will the EU allow that crap too, or will it realize that Microsoft's largest competitors are likely to be OSS developers and a hundred-grand license would be about the same as not actually releasing it to their competitors?

    Even if there is a large licensing fee, don't you think IBM and Novell/Suse, not to mention Apple, would pay it just so they can offer workstations fully compatible with Exchange and Active Directory, or servers that can replace Exchange and Active Directory? I'm salivating at the thought of that.

  • Re:I hope.... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @12:53PM (#8657392)
    Exactly. If Bush owned up to his mistakes, like a man, he's be more believable when it's not his fault. Then the anti-bushes would be forced to concede that Bush is right about some things.

    A little more of this, and we might head towards a govenrment that achieves things, rather than just says things.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @01:12PM (#8657637)
    I can buy a PC from Dell, Compaq, Gateway, IBM, or about a billion clone shops. Where can I buy a Mac? Apple. That's it.

    That must mean that Ford, GM, BMW, etc. are all monopolies, right?

    My PC can run lots of different OS's (though, granted, most people choose to run Windows on theirs). What are my options if I buy a Mac? OS X. What if I'd like to try a different OS on my Mac?

    There are a number of different Linux distros that have Mac versions available, you know. How about one of those?

    Can I get a Mac without an OS? Nope.

    And this makes Apple a monopoly how?

    Oh my Lord. How friggin' brainwashed does one have to be to honestly believe that Microsoft is a monopoly, and Apple isn't? Microsoft doesn't even make
    computers for crying out loud. Just an OS! Apple is far, far more of a monopoly than Microsoft.

    You must be using a different definition of monopoly than the rest of us are.

  • Re:I hope.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Golias ( 176380 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @01:21PM (#8657768)
    Erk... I meant 192 years, obviously. it was 1812 when England burnd down the White House (and the Canadians have been taking credit for it ever since... Let 'em have it, I say. They have so few wars to brag about.)
  • Re:I hope.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @01:41PM (#8658051)
    The EU has no legal authority over how an American company packages and/or bundles their products.

    Of course it does, when they sell them in Europe. American gun manufacturers can't sell their Saturday night specials in Europe just because they're legal in the US.

    And in any case, MS has lots of subsidiaries in Europe, they're the ones that would be fined, and ultimately have their assets sold if they didn't pay.

    Bill's worst nightmare would be a large MS-free zone that would breed competing software. He'll delay as long as possible, but will comply rather than abandon the EU market.

  • Isn't it just. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lochin Rabbar ( 577821 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @01:50PM (#8658179)

    You can bet that MS would be willing to go to such extreme's as pulling out of the EU market rather than supply the source.

    This is the third time I've had to correct this piece of silliness, here we go again. If they pull out of Europe they lose nearly half of all their revenue. Europe is by far their biggest market. They would also at a stroke cease to have a monoploly on the world's desktops. It just aint gonna happen.

    as soon as the EU tries to force their hand, it becomes an EU vs US thing (guess who will win that battle).

    If recent form is any guide this would be a shoe in for the EU. The US may be the only military superpower, but they are no longer the dominant economy.

    people want this software

    Actually people use the software that the content provider determines that they do. If it's in Real they use Real if Quicktime they use Quicktime and so on. Most consumers just use the most heavily promoted product that works with the format they need to view.

  • by k_head ( 754277 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @02:10PM (#8658454)
    I think that the Bush administration has proven itself to be pretty protectionist. MS, Steel, Wheat, Wood products, etc. They definately don't subscribe to the free trade paradigm (except of course when it comes to outsourcing, they are all gung ho about that).
  • by jsebrech ( 525647 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @03:55PM (#8659700)
    Actually, the fine is the punishment, and the release of documentation is the remedy.
  • Re:Huh??? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tckurd ( 743622 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @04:02PM (#8659777)
    it's even more significant... everyone is saying Media Player is free. last i checked, some team somewhere was paid to develop it, so to MSFT, it was anything but free. and somewhere in the cost of windows is a payback for media player. a better crappy anology goes like this: Let's say you sell cars, and you have a 95% market share. Of the world market. And, you decide you're going to make a built-in GPS standard in every vehicle. not everyone wants it, but they HAVE TO BUY IT because it's included in the price of the car. so, $50 into your coffers for some feature they may or may not use. Sure, you can choose not to use that GPS and get another one, aftermarket, for $200 or so and use that. But why when you have the built-in one you already paid for? So, in a short span of time, you become the 95% marketshare owner of the GPS market also. This is not fair and is the essence of the EU ruling. [thanks wes!]
  • Re:why WMP ? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Wiz ( 6870 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @04:30PM (#8660111) Homepage
    It is so simple though!

    Microsoft is a monopoly, Apple is not. Therefore Microsoft has to play by a different set of rules than Apple does.

    If people don't like Apple, they don't use. Struggling not to use Windows is difficult.
  • In other news... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lije Baley ( 88936 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @05:27PM (#8660800)
    ...The U.S. is preparing to fine Volkswagen $231 million USD for shipping their cars with a stereo. All vehicles sold by them must be delivered without any radio, but with an extensive, powerful speaker and power amp system by 2006. Said system must have sophisticated control protocols and electrical interfaces and specifications for them must be available to car stereo manufacturers in 2005.
  • Yup (Score:2, Insightful)

    by phocuz ( 445317 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:25PM (#8663020) Journal
    Considering the fact that the EU now has some 500 million people, and a whole bunch of other countries are coming in. Many of these countries are below western european standars when it comes to computers, which means there is a large market coming up in the next few years. Poland, the baltic states and so on are all going to spend more money on computers as their economies grow, and I very much doubt MS would want to miss out..

    The problem is not if they will comply to the rules, but if the rules will come through. I do think there are hopes for this though, as the EU has fined companies before for not following legislation. Some, like Hoffman La Roche, even got the new principles unofficially named after them afterwards, when the european court of justice had had its way with them. I sincerely hope for a stronger EU.
  • Re:I hope.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HuguesT ( 84078 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @11:16PM (#8663725)
    Do you usually quote things out of context like that? The man was imprisoned 12 years although innocent. He won E1 million in compensation, however the jugdge tried to substract E50,000 of that same amount for bed and board. That's not exactly the same thing as what you wrote. The way you wrote things it sounds as if the guy was imprisoned, then later found innocent and then charged for time in jail without any kind of compensation, which is not at all what happened.

    Moreover the judge's decision was reversed (that decision is being appealed),.

    Also don't worry (or rather do worry), surveillance systems are alive and well in the US as well.

Show me a man who is a good loser and I'll show you a man who is playing golf with his boss.