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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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  • why WMP ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by selderrr ( 523988 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:19AM (#8654931) Journal
    Does anyone else consider it a bit weird that they're using Windows Media Player as bait ? That's a division where there's at least some competition from Quicktime and Realplayer. The browser war was a far more dirty one IMO, and microsoft is STILL making it practically impossible for competitors to integrate their browser properly over IE.

    And what about the java fuckups ? The Samba debacle ? The OEM backmailing ?

    I don't get it....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:20AM (#8654937)
    Before you all start moaning that EU is anti-American, note that the complaint was made by Sun & Real (both american companies) which resulted in this ruling.
  • by danormsby ( 529805 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:24AM (#8654990) Homepage
    Where does the fine go? Spending it on Real player/Quicktime development might be poetic justice?
  • by aredubya74 ( 266988 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:25AM (#8654992)
    Think of the $614mil as a mosquito bite. Get enough of em together, and eventually, you're scratching like crazy to deal with the itchiness of the bites. And there's always a chance that one of those bites will cause malaria or West Nile (equivilent to the market freak-out that subsequent fines could cause).
  • *cough*yeahright. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Brian Kendig ( 1959 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:26AM (#8655008) Homepage
    $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.

    In the end, this court decision isn't going to amount to anything. Competition has already been hurt. Customers aren't going to want to pay the same price for a version of Windows without WiMP. Competitors won't be given access to Microsoft's API's; MS will appeal and drag this out for a very long time. And in the end it will ignore the court orders, just like it did in the US, knowing that its punishment will be yet another lengthy court process which it can drag out and then ignore again, all the while telling its customers that government is trying to raise prices and stifle innovation. Maybe it'll even try to settle by again offering to install Microsoft software in schools for free (until the license has to be renewed in a few years, that is).
  • by mcc ( 14761 ) <> on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:26AM (#8655015) Homepage
    This sounds like the most important part to me. What does this mean? The CNN article is incredibly vague. Is MS allowed to place restrictions on the licensing of this "program code"-- i.e. forcing anyone who looks at code to sign an NDA saying, say, they won't use the information in a GPLed product? What do they define by "in the server market"? Is this just saying MS has to make its WMA code available, or is this Windows in general?

    If the latter, that's absolutely fantastic. That means we could start seeing 100% compatible versions of Wine, freed from the difficulty and endless trial=and-error of duplicating an API where so much is undocumented and "bug compatibility" is so crucial.

    If the former, that this means MS has to divulge the necessary information for third parties to be fully compatible with WMP serving, that's not quite so interesting.

    Incidentally, I want to nominate this as the most bullshit argument MS apologists have ever put forth, ever.

    Analysts say by forcing Microsoft to offer a version of Windows XP without Media Player, consumers could pay higher costs.

    "If it were to be obliged to offer versions both with and without Media Player, then that would mean we would probably have double the number of consumer PC configuration in our shops. Of course this is product that is built before it is sold," says Brian Gammage from computer consultancy Gartner.

    Wow. So Microsoft using Windows revenues to subsidize a hugely complex and unnecessary movie player and set of movie codecs doesn't increase costs to consumers, but Microsoft having to print up two differing sets of cheap cardboard to sell in stores does. Amazing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:27AM (#8655022)
    While the rest of the world reports the $613M fine against Microsoft as a standalone, the LinuxWorld report [] juxtaposes it with HP's confirmation - being reported by Reuters [] - that HP is wavering in its support for Windows on the desktop. Its notebooks and laptops will now support SUSE Linux. An HP'er concedes: "Does Microsoft like the fact that we do Linux stuff? Absolutely not." Is this the end of the beginning now in the Windows vs Linux desktop battle?"
  • Assuming MS Pays... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CGP314 ( 672613 ) <CGP AT ColinGregoryPalmer DOT net> on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:32AM (#8655074) Homepage
    Where does the money go after Microsoft pays? To charity? To the gov't?

    -Colin []
  • by mikechant ( 729173 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:34AM (#8655091)
    They can drag the appeals process out, but they still have to pay and comply in the meantime unless they can get the judgement suspended within 3 months pending this appeal. The court may take the view that suspending the judgement for this length of time would have the effect of totally neutralising it and refuse to do so. So 3 months is the key time, not 5 years. Even if they do get it suspended, the appeals process may be expedited because the commission can again argue that 5 year timescales would effectively neutralise it, in which case I've read it would be a maximum 1-2 years.
  • by Evan Meakyl ( 762695 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:36AM (#8655117)
    but will Microsoft try to use cupons, or "donate" software to schools

    It's already done ...

    I am a French student in a computer science high school; there, some students are paid by Microsoft in order to distribute "free" versions of their products (Office, Windows, etc...) to other students (they call that "Le club technologie Microsoft").

    Of course, you legally can't do anything with this softwares unless it has to do with your studies (no winamp!), but this isn't really said to you. Moreover, Microsoft collects names and data about people taking this products....
  • Re:Unbelievable (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PainKilleR-CE ( 597083 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:37AM (#8655124)
    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!)

    Actually, what people seem to be missing is that they're basically being asked to make the media player something that's easily removed from the system. Under the US antitrust settlements, this is bundling, and can be deemed a violation of antitrust laws if competitors complain that WMP is hurting their business.

    In other words, because Microsoft started "integrating" applications rather than simply bundling them, in order to stay within the law in the US, they've apparently violated EU antitrust law. Seperating the media player to comply with the EU ruling leaves them open to more lawsuits in the US, simply because, although it's not distributed in the US, a version (distributed as the same desktop OS) would exist in which the media player can be seperated.
  • by madfgurtbn ( 321041 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:38AM (#8655134)
    120 days to provide FULL documentation on Windows code interfaces?

    If true, does that mean Wine will be able to soon run ALL Windows apps perfectly?

    The $ is chicken feed for M$, and unbundling Media PLayer doesn't sound like that big of a deal, either. IF the API's are truly going to be Out There for us then that's a BIG BIG deal, right?
  • Re:why WMP ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by subjectstorm ( 708637 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:39AM (#8655156) Journal
    well, think about it. why not WMP? is there any technology out there growing faster than digital media right now?

    The RIAA and their counterparts can sue whoever they like to protect cds as a viable distribution method (this is what they really want to do, regardless of what anyone says), but digital content is here right now and it isn't going away. I think everyone knows this.

    The EU is picking this particular "feature" of Windows to blast MS on simply because of its relevance to future markets. And besides . . . why do you think MS bitched so much about having to take it off? If it was an innocent thing, they wouldn't have built it into the OS as a component (they did do that, yes? I know for sure IE is) AND they would have just taken it off when asked to do so.
  • Re:I hope.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dtperik ( 695891 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:39AM (#8655157) Homepage
    I think there is a lot more hope that EU will stick to it's guns than the US (and I say that as a US citizen). There is much less financial/economic risk to the EU to do this vs. the US, being that MS is a US company. So it will be easier for them to actually keep to their judgement.
  • by Wacky_Wookie ( 683151 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:40AM (#8655162) Homepage Journal
    Think about it, drug marketing teciniques are the same as microsofts. Pushers say this to kids all the time:

    "Everyone else does it."

    "Just try it once for free (a donation)."

    "It lets you do things you could not do before."
  • by will_die ( 586523 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:41AM (#8655172) Homepage
    It is not a matter of choice.
    It is a matter that microsoft has a near monopoly. As such it comes other restriction. The main one(at least in the US and similar in the EU) is that you cannot use your monopoly in one area to get a monopoly in another.
  • by StateOfTheUnion ( 762194 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:43AM (#8655201) Homepage
    There are a lot of posts here attacking the fine as too small . . . but does anyone know how the amount of the fine was determined? In the US, anti-competitive practices are fined "treble damages", that is, triple the amount of damage done to the market by the anti-competitive practice. The multiplier is a punitive deterrant.

    In Europe, are the damages computed in a similar method? Also 497M Euros sounds small, but was this computed based on Microsoft's profits/revenues and anticompetitive practices only in the EU?

    Microsoft will undoubtedly appeal . . . and this could take years. The market and the product mix could change a lot by then . . .

  • Re:Unbelievable (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sobrique ( 543255 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:44AM (#8655207) Homepage

    Yes, it is less attractive. I mean, people buy 'all inclusive' bundles in the form of game consoles.

    The problem is that the additional components (like media player) cost more development time, and thus increase the price of the OS.

    So if you're just running on a 286 that can't play divxs anyway, why should you subsidise those that want to watch videos?

    The other problem is of course, that their market position makes things really difficult for competitors to get a viable product off the ground. How many people use netscape these days?

    It wasn't so very long ago that it was the browser of choice.

    Now I accept that some of that may be due to Netscape being less good, but the majority of the pressure is going to be from those who just click the 'internet' button and oh look, there's IE.

    (And incidentally, does anyone remember a similar ruling requiring the removal of IE from microsoft OSs? Their solution was to alter the OS structure to make it 'integral'.)

  • by Choc Ice ( 763620 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:46AM (#8655222)
    Rubbish. A free market economy needs intervention when monopolies arise, or it's no longer a free market economy (for many reasons, including price fixing and barriers to trade).

    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.

    Companies cannot do this - people need to be educated to use different systems, whereas schools almost exclusively teach MS products. If you choose a "free" alternative to Microsoft, the support and training required costs more than buying the Microsoft product in the first place. There's a skills pollution taking place - people aren't profficient with using computers, they're proficcient with using Microsoft products. That's what monopolies do.
  • Charge for Code? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jameth ( 664111 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:50AM (#8655266)
    Is there any information on how they have to release that code? I recall them being forced to release documentation of APIs in the US for a reasonable license, which they set at around a hundred grand, fifty if you decided to not use it after a look.

    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?
  • by MrIrwin ( 761231 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @09:53AM (#8655294) Journal
    Actually the predominant complaint in Europe has been that the EU only has teeth for EU companies whilst overseas companies (big US ones with big legal budgets in particular) get away with things that EU companies don't.

    Allthougth it is the biggest fine imposed by the EU, it is only 8% of thier EU sales, other companies have been hit harder in real terms for monopolistic practices.

    The fine means nothing really, it is the other conditions which hurt, but the US courts have on numerous occassions ruled against MS monopolistic practices. Had they achieved thier stated aim there would have been no case.

  • by surprise_audit ( 575743 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:08AM (#8655439)
    I'd say that the fine is definitely intended to get media attention, though the EU can surely put the cash to good use. As you say, the real punishment is forcing the unbundling and opening up the specs.

    Perhaps more to the point, there is the unstated (by CNN, at least) threat of further action and/or fines if the deadlines are not met. Well, that's how I interpret "they've been given 90 days to comply", anyway... Now that the punishment has been handed out, it will be a lot easier to increase the fine for non-compliance.

    And there's another facet to this ruling - other countries may just follow suit (literally!) and file similar complaints. This fine may not mean much on its own, but if the EU makes it stick, I wouldn't be surprised if AU, NZ and others started to take notice.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:13AM (#8655482)
    that's absolutely fantastic. That means we could start seeing 100% compatible versions of Wine, freed from the difficulty and endless trial=and-error of duplicating an API where so much is undocumented and "bug compatibility" is so crucial
    Actually, the more I work with two orwellian organizations (a Three-Letter-Agency contract to write code using Microsoft's MFC and etc.), the more I'm convinced there is no conspiracy possible. All the signs (in meetings with the TLA, and just *using* code created by MS) point toward them both being just as harried and rushed as we all are.

    What I'm trying to say is a cliche: Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence (... or lack of time to polish stuff up). Frankly, I think there is no hidden API. If MFC (all the way up to VS2003) is a fair example, Microsoft coders just slap stuff together, run tests (that aren't exhaustive enough), and move on like we're generally forced to do at work. They're under the same pressures as us: Fixed time, expanding workload. If that wasn't the case, MFC (where we HAVE revealed source!) wouldn't be as flaky and half-correct-dcoumented as it is.

    I really do agree that getting the source won't hurt FOSS projects like Wine and Samba and etc. But my gut sense is we'll learn it's no magic bullet.

    PS: I'm a skeptic, not a shill. Big brother exists and can make life miserable for people. Microsoft is an unrepentant felon/monopolist. But the employees have no superpowers, and in fact are dilbertesque enough to have made me breathe a huge sigh of conspiracy-theorist relief.

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

    by leifm ( 641850 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:17AM (#8655515)
    I don't think I agree with this suit. Media Player isn't near a monopoly in media players. Almost everyone has Quicktime installed, Real comes preinstalled on Dells, DivX is out there. There are things Microsoft has done that I don't think were right, but bundling software with the OS isn't one of them. Anymore I expect some type of media player, a browser, and e-mail client, whatever to come with my OS, be it OS X, Windows, or Linux.

    Things like the BeOS lockout are what I'd think should be the focus of antitrust type suits against MS, not value add to Windows.
  • Re:Money? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jorrit ( 19549 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:21AM (#8655565) Homepage
    As other posted already pointed out the appeal will not help. MS has to pay right now and comply to the rulings already set by this court. If it appeals and they win the appeal later then this will be reversed.

  • Doing the math ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by danwiz ( 538108 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:21AM (#8655566)
    Microsoft's annual revenue is $30 Billion dollars. (Information Week [])

    The EU fine is $613 Million.

    $613 Million / $30 Billion = 0.024

    So ... they fined Microsoft roughly 2% of one year's sales. This "proportionate" and "balanced" ruling was because the "near-monopoly" tried for several years to "shut competitors out of the market". (quotes are from the EU Commission)

    This is how losing 2% of my gross income would impact me on a weekly basis.
    (myGrossIncome * 0.02) / 52 = myWeeklyImpactIfFined

    So what do you casually spend more than 2% of your gross income on? Lunch? State sales (or VAT) tax? Gasoline? Porn?

    The fine is neither harsh nor effective. Anyone want to take a guess at how much the competitors have lost every year?

  • by Per Abrahamsen ( 1397 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:23AM (#8655580) Homepage
    In a working market economy, profits will be minimal. If anyone is selling a product with a high margin, some competitor will take makretshare by selling the same product with a lower margin. Either way, profits will be small.

    Since the players in the market are motivated by maximizing profits, they will always try to circumvent the market forces, mostly by obstructing their competitors. For a company that holds a monopoly in one area, one way to do this is to bundle products from other areas. This is basically how Microsoft works.

    Ensuring a working market is, in my view, the primary responsibility of a government.

    The reason you hear otherwise often on /., is that the Libertarians are very visible here. Libetarianism is an ideology founded on the axiom that goivernment is evil, and nothing good can come from it. Thus, libertarians will never be able to understand how a market works.
  • On the other hand (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Per Abrahamsen ( 1397 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:30AM (#8655641) Homepage
    If MS has to disclose their API's *now*, it won't help them much if they win the case in five years, and get told that they don't need to disclose them anyway.
  • by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:33AM (#8655666) Homepage
    This position, held by most Slashdotters who have commented on this issue, is highly contradictory.

    Consistency is a property that is often overrated by geeks. In the real world, logical consistency often leads to such stupidity as monopoly, anarchism, facism, the religion of "free markets", and Libertarianism. There are two reasons for this:

    First, logic is a process by which models are built, not a reality. As a modeling methodology, it is very sensitive to the axioms chosen from which to start the process and many "true believers" in logic are very non-selective in their axiom selection. In addition, the models produced by this method, like all models, distort some aspects of reality, and these models need to be probed for limitations and inacuracies and validated against the real situation. Again, those who most often prattle on about "consistency" are often least likely to test their models for the only consistency that really matters - consistency with the real world.

    The second problem with consistency is that the real world simply isn't. The real world is an incredibly messy system. Can you predict with logical certainty that a particular lion will attack a wildebeast at a given time? That a human will make a certain stock trade? Human beings have evolved a highly complex, but inconsistent processing unit (called a brain) that copes pretty well with the world as a whole. Compared to this processor's proven longevity, the creation of logic has been a relatively recent innovation and one that is (as of yet) evolutionarily unproven. Given this, it is highly specious to assume that this new (and unnatural) processing mode is superior to the messier and fuzzier processing that has insured our (and other creatures') survival over millions of years. It is also most probably false that a pure use of logic is superior to a synthesis of the Aristotlian model and a more fuzzy one.

    In short, cowboy, people ain't machines - stop tryin' to turn folks into them. I know it would make them a heck of lot easier to model of they were and you think that people would be a lot easier to understand if they were mechanistic and that your natural ability to understand mechanisms would give you an upper hand if they were and you'd be a lot more comfortable with that, but all that just means I'm really glad that you're not in charge. I refuse to surrender my humanity to your logic.

  • Re:why WMP ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by klaasb ( 523629 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:34AM (#8655669)
    It wasn't about Apple vs. Microsoft.
    Although I did take the iTMS as an example.

    With WMP Microsoft can (and probably will) make the same mistake it made with IE.
    And we get stuck with some crappy piece of 'technology'.

    DRM is the way it is going, wether you and I like it or not.
  • Re:What's next (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:35AM (#8655681)
    >Is Ford going to be sued because I can only
    >order the car with the sound systems they
    >approve from the factory?

    If they use illegal means to force you to buy Ford factory radios even in Dodge or Chevrolets, then yeah.

    People like you that rail against the subject seem to want the laws that Microsoft violated to be abolished. Complaining after the fact when you don't like the way a law has been enforced is a poor substitute for a proactive stance of citizenship.
  • Re:I hope.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by macdaddy ( 38372 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:35AM (#8655687) Homepage Journal
    I have to disagree. Of all the hundreds of Windows machines I've worked on (and I'm a Mac guy) I have yet to find a single one that actually intalled QuickTime that I hadn't installed myself at some point. When I rolled out a new webmail package at my provider the one we went with, Squirrelmail, can popup a small window with a "You have mail!" text blurb and play a wav file to get the user's attention. The helpdesk was inundated with calls about "this window that pops up every few minutes and tells me I need to download something.' Since they didn't have a plugin installed that could handle wav files, their browser would tell them to download a plugin. We never anticipated that problem. We assumed the userbase would have QuickTime or something else installed to take care of it. We were wrong though. I thought I'd add that.
  • Drug Pushers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by royalblue_tom ( 557302 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:39AM (#8655737)
    ... and so is the alcohol industry, and big pharm come to mention it. But as a society, we see nothing wrong with this, and require these services (and w/r/t alcohol, the no-alcohol experiment has already been carried out - prohibition).

    The problem is when you get cigarettes that have been "improved" to be more addictive, and ingredients added that are obviously detrimental to health. Then you go after these companies, quite rightly, and fine them savagely (I recommend jail sentences for the execs too).

    But never forget that people want to smoke, and as long as they respect non-smokers, and don't litter (why is the majority of trash on the street from cigarettes?), then let them.

    Here's a piece of info - the tax generated on cigarettes in the UK, is more than the total cost of the national health service!
  • by Johnny Mnemonic ( 176043 ) <> on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:39AM (#8655739) Homepage Journal

    In order to restore the conditions of fair competition, the Commission has imposed the following remedies: As regards interoperability, Microsoft is required, within 120 days, 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. To the extent that any of this interface information might be protected by intellectual property in the European Economic Area(6), Microsoft would be entitled to reasonable remuneration. The disclosure order concerns the interface documentation only, and not the Windows source code, as this is not necessary to achieve the development of interoperable products.

    Sounds like to me that they would have to provide the APIs (not the source!) to the SMB file sharing protocol, and, for instance, allow anyone, including Macs and Linux, to work seamlessly with Active Directory and Exchange. Note: Microsoft will be able to "reasonably charge" for that information. Personally, I think this is a big thing for getting OS X into the Enterprise; I can certainly forsee Apple paying for that access.
  • Re:Money? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iainl ( 136759 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:39AM (#8655741)
    "If it appeals and they win the appeal later then this will be reversed"

    Really? I can't see how that would work; are they going to suddenly make people not know what the API looks like again?

    I strongly suspect Microsoft will get out of this one, through one method or another. For their business they have to.
  • by Alephcat ( 745478 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:44AM (#8655789) Homepage Journal
    but in the EU an appeal will only be granted if the courts think the appealer has a half decent chance of winning.
  • Not harsh enough (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FridayBob ( 619244 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @10:45AM (#8655809) Homepage
    I'm no legal expert, so I can't be sure how far Mr. Monti can go with his punitive measures, but I don't think he's gone far enough. In my estimation, only Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson had the right idea: split up the company. It's too bad he didn't have his way.
    Mr. Monti points out that Microsoft's business practice of bundling is generally abusive, but his solution -- the creation of a new, slightly cheaper Windows version sans MediaPlayer -- is not going to make much of difference to the average consumer: for only $10 to $15 more, who in their right mind would pass up the chance to buy something as exciting as "Windows XP Media Plus"? As far as I'm concerned, Mr. Monti should have demanded an end to Microsoft's evil bundling practices (at least in Europe). Period.
    As for the 500m Euro fine, I suppose it's more symbolic than anything else, since it amounts to about 1% of their cash reserves. However, it does create an unwelcome precedent that Microsoft are keen to avoid and which could lead to a lot more trouble for them in the future. I sincerely hope so.
  • Please explain (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quill_28 ( 553921 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @11:15AM (#8656126) Journal
    MS is getting fined because they bundled WMP with windows? Is that correct?

    Please tell me there is something more.

    Are linux distributions not allowed to do this? OS X? Other os's?

    Personally when my mother opens her new XP box, I want WMP installed along with a whole bunch of another apps(some zip type program comes to mind)

    Help me out here.

  • Re:You fail it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TomV ( 138637 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @11:15AM (#8656127)
    I didn't see: what happens if they don't comply, or comply 1/2 and it's found that it doesn't cut it?

    if they 'comply 1/2' then they haven't complied, and if they don't comply they earn an additional penalty of 3 billion Euros per year until they DO comply.
  • Re:EU Power (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cpghost ( 719344 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @11:17AM (#8656157) Homepage

    The fine on Microsoft is extremely high (over 10% of cash reserves.)

    The fine is not nearly as high as it should have been. The question is how much financial damage did Microsoft afflict on EU companies with their monopolistic behaviour. Actually, the EU is pretty lenient to Microsoft, despite this rather symbolic fine.

    This appears to be an Anti-American fine.

    Oh, is Microsoft == America? The EU couldn't know that, because we're still calling ourselves United States of America, and not MSUSA (1.0)!

    This fine is absolutely not Anti-American, as you put it. It is trying to repair the damage caused by the incredible DoJ anti-trust settlement that Microsoft was able to buy from our current administration. By imposing sanctions against Microsoft, the EU is also protecting US consumers, who have been IMHO betrayed by that settlement. So it is a Pro-American fine, a fine which should have been imposed by our government in the first place.

  • by slandis ( 97422 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @11:32AM (#8656332)
    The API sets are not "basically going open source" here. All Microsoft is required to do is provide documentation of the API themselves. Not sure about you, but I know that a lot of each API is already documented online at MSDN.

    In the end, this particular move could really just help to entrench Microsoft and Windows further if the documentation they provide, by some miracle, happens to be clear and concise - thus allowing more and more programmers to put out quality (I use "quality" in relation to Windows) applications.

    I'm not against Windows being the de-facto standard myself - I'd be perfectly happy with some quality software on Windows. But I also think this part of the "punishment" is rather ridiculous, as Microsoft already publishes most of its API documentation
  • by ehanuise ( 672994 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @11:35AM (#8656355)
    EU ruling quote :
    Microsoft abused its market power by deliberately restricting interoperability between Windows PCs and non-Microsoft work group servers

    work group servers are not restricted to file servers and user authentication. This will most probably have connections to exchange server, calendar sharing and the like.
    Maybe soon will evolution be eventually able to talk to exchange without a proprietary connector :)
  • by xploita ( 639331 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @12:05PM (#8656755) Homepage
    While it is great to feel that the 10,000 pound gorrilla has been pricked, you have to begin to worry about the larger implications this issue has. Foreign governments will begin to weild the power to force companies to do things that fit within their specific way of life.

    Remember Yahoo and the case of Nazi memorabilia?

    Imagine if countries with more stringent beliefs the Middle East or South East Asia for instance became huge financial juggernauts, they could arm twist companies that want to do business with them to remove materials they find offensive e.g. eBay's adult section.

    BTW, if you think this is pointless paranoia, search for what Google did to appease the chinese government in searching about rights abuse.

    IMHO, Quicktime is more of a pain in Windows than Media Player which I never use either. Divx player, Vidomi, & GDivx & Winamp run ALL my media files without issue.
  • by Lord Kestrel ( 91395 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @12:22PM (#8656962)
    Who gets the money in the end? If MS shills out 497 million euros, whose coffers does it fill?
  • Re:I hope.... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by syn3rg ( 530741 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @12:57PM (#8657429) Homepage
    Democracy is a greek invention, Starta to be exact -- early 7th century BC. Thankfully, we in the US are not a true democracy; we are a representative republic. Democracy most often devolves into mob-rule ie. France's "Glorious Revolution".
  • Re:Drug Pushers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mr. Darl McBride ( 704524 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @01:05PM (#8657540)
    But never forget that people want to smoke, and as long as they respect non-smokers, and don't litter (why is the majority of trash on the street from cigarettes?), then let them.

    All for it. But how many smokers have you met who've tried and failed to quit? Seems that until the packages warn and acknowledge that it's an addictive narcotic, regular liability laws should apply.

  • Re:Doesn't matter (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cubic6 ( 650758 ) <tom.losthalo@org> on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @01:24PM (#8657812) Homepage
    The only problem with that is that it's not a drop-in replacement for IE. It uses the same interface, but you can't throw it in your system dir and have all your mshtml-using programs use Gecko instead. You need to use a binary patching tool, which when I last tried it, didn't really work so well with the programs I used.

    Hopefully if MS is forced to open their APIs a little more, things could be made *exactly* compatible.
  • by cubic6 ( 650758 ) <tom.losthalo@org> on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @01:40PM (#8658037) Homepage
    The hardware on my Inspiron (about a year old) works perfectly with Linux, and probably would've a year ago if Dell had provided drivers for their hardware instead of relying on the open-source community to write them. The non-Dell parts (vid card, sound, touchpad) are quite well supported. I think Dell's lack of a Linux option on laptops has more to do with support and demand. If they offered it, the sales would most likely be so low that it wouldn't be worth the extra effort. Most people don't know how to install an OS or use Linux, so they pick the OS they know.
  • by pmjordan ( 745016 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @03:33PM (#8659413)
    I believe what they're supposed to document isn't so much the Win32 API, but things like Windows networking, so other companies or organisations (Samba?) can offer products that have the same functionality but are in other ways superior to say, Windows Domain Controllers, MS Exchange/Outlook, and so forth.
  • Re:I hope.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mslinux ( 570958 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @05:57PM (#8661122)
    This is so true.

    Look at health care in Europe vs. America. Everyone in Europe can afford to have a root canal or an xray should they need one. The American government on the other hand allows hospitals, drug companies and doctors to charge exorbitant prices for drugs and services forcing poor people into more and more debt.

    What's a single mother of two to do when she needs an abcessed tooth removed and one of her sons has a broken arm? In Europe, she'll be taken care of and she'll won't feel deprived of basic care that makes her life worth living... In America, she's at the mercy of over-priced physicans and the protected prescription drug cartel. She'll go into debt, file bankrupty or possible commit suicide.

    Americans need to wake up to this reality. This is precisely why there is so much crime and depravity in your country. America is many things, but it is not "By the People or For the People"
  • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @06:21PM (#8661334)
    APIs, I guess that doesn't include protocols, and those are integral to interoperability... Or am I misreading it?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @07:15PM (#8661863)
    Microsoft has a tremendous cash stock pile. In fact, if they simply ignored the court order to pay the money and just pull out of Europe for a year, what harm would it do them. They can let go of their thousands of european employees. I figure at an average of $40,000 U.S. a year, that would be an additional $40,000,000 saved per year/per thousand + corp taxes = 50%, so $60,000,000 per thousand. And likely to have about 5,000 employees scattered around Europe. So about $300,000,000 on employees. They have office space all over. I would imagine they have as many at 50 european offices, at about $100,000 per year/per office for space and utilities, let's figure there's another $5,000,000. Then there is the additional cost of corporate taxes and so forth. Really, it could cut their costs by $1 billion U.S. per year or more.

    Of course, they probably make quite a bit in Europe since they can charge at least an additional 25% out here over U.S. prices. But, really, between the court suit, the additional legal costs, the items mentioned above, the additonal costs of being in comtempt of court since they won't remove Windows Media player (last financial I saw showed that MS still pays a $1 million per day fine over the IE settlement instead of removing IE). It would more than likely impact less than 10% of the total income of Microsoft.

    Of course, Europe would then have to buy non-localized, imported U.S. copies of Windows, since you can't replace it overnight. Piracy would still be complicated by the activation mechanism. They could even cut off european IP's from accessing the activation services. Broadcast sites with Windows Media wouldn't be accessible so easily anymore. Of course, users would have to buy U.S. versions of Microsoft Office as well instead of localized and forsake their dictionaries and grammer checkers. Because if they want to do business with the U.S., it's Word and Excel.

    Microsoft would also have to cut off distribution of MSDN to Europe. Which means that companies depending on developing software for Windows on a world market would be screwed as well.

    The fact is that European inventories of Windows would run out in not too long. Companies would have to start shipping pirated versions of Windows with no european support infastructure, so all support calls would have to be long distance to the U.S. and starting at 2pm GMT or later, so morning support would be gone.

    Mac of course is a viable option, but it would cost billions and billions to transition to Mac in companies, and the software base would still be weak, and the office related issues would still be unresolved. Linux is not an option since outside of very basic office related tasks, it still has not evolved as a desktop OS to the point where it can be deployed in organizations where support staff is not readily available or properly trained.

    It would takes years on either platform for software to catch up. American and Asian companies would take ages to transition to a word processor format friendly to Europeans if they did at all.

    So the way I see it is, Microsoft should say no, pull out and wait till Europe begs them to come back. Jack their prices like mad as well. I'll be buying shares when their stock takes the hit over the pull out heheh.

    Keep in mind, if Microsoft pulls out of Europe, people and companies will still buy Microsoft products. They'll just cost more. So win-win for MS

  • by haraldrbassi ( 267342 ) on Wednesday March 24, 2004 @07:49PM (#8662246)
    The below letter was received by me at 18:35 eastern. (Yes I am a unix sysadmin, but keeping an eye on the market is prudent).

    March 24, 2004

    To Our Partners:

    The European Commission today announced a decision against Microsoft in its
    five-year investigation of the company. I am writing to provide you with more
    information on the process that has led to this point and how we see it going

    First, it is important to emphasize that, as Commissioner Monti has noted,
    throughout this long investigation Microsoft has worked constructively with the
    Commission and has sought to address all of the concerns relating to the case. As
    this case moves forward, Microsoft will respect and fully comply with European law,
    we will continue our investment in developing great technologies, and we will
    continue to deliver our innovation to our partners and customers.

    We were indeed able to reach agreement on all of the issues in the current case. In
    doing so, Microsoft made far-reaching and very substantial concessions on both the
    interoperability and media playback technology sides of the case. We volunteered a
    set of obligations that would have been unprecedented in the technology industry or
    elsewhere. Our settlement offer, which applied worldwide on both sides of the case,
    would have resulted in over 1 billion competitor media players being distributed in
    the next 3 years.

    However, the Commission also required Microsoft to agree to a single formula that
    would define how all questions concerning future innovation and technology
    integration beyond the scope of the current case should be dealt with. As a company
    that has been at the leading edge of the last 20 years of technology innovation and
    development, we do not believe that it is possible or desirable to design a single
    rule that would apply to all innovation and technology integration questions that
    may arise in the future.

    Innovating to the benefit of partners and customers has been the driving vision of
    Microsoft--and the basis of its partner philosophy--since it started in 1975. Our
    understanding of the needs of European partners and customers goes back to the time
    when the company set up its first European operations 22 years ago in 1982. Many of
    the innovations over that time have focused on language support, usability and
    adding features that improve the user experience with their PC from the moment they
    take it out of the box. And we seek to do this at a fair price by taking all our new
    technologies to a mass market.

    In many ways these additional technologies are core to user experience and to the
    usefulness of the product for partners and customers. According to our research,
    fully 80 percent of our European customers believe that Windows Media Player should
    be included with Windows.

    Computers have changed the way we live and work in the past two decades and
    Microsoft is proud to have been part of that revolution. It is unfortunate that the
    European Commission chose to take this route, but we also recognize and thank the
    Commission for the professional and co-operative fashion in which they have
    approached this case.

    As we move forward through this process, we will remain focused on collaborating
    with our partners and supporting product innovation to benefit Microsoft customers.
    We will support European governments on the pressing issues that face us all:
    computer security, spam, education and IT skills training. And we will help
    increasing Europe's competitiveness in the technology field, creating an information
    society and making sure that the online environment in which that society will
    thrive is safe for everyone.

    We will keep you informed of developments as the process moves forward.

    Yours sincerely,

    Allison Watson
    Vice President, Worldwide Partner Sales and Marketing Group

    See our press release for more information.

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