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EU Set To Charge Microsoft Over Ruling Breach 254

New submitter quippe writes in with some bad news for Microsoft. "Microsoft Corp will be charged for failing to comply with a 2009 ruling ordering it to offer a choice of web browsers, the European Union's antitrust chief said on Thursday, which could mean a hefty fine for the company. U.S.-based Microsoft's more than decade-long battle with the European Commission has already landed it with fines totaling more than a billion euros ($1.28 billion). The Commission, which opened an investigation into the issue in July, is now preparing formal charges against the company, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said."
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EU Set To Charge Microsoft Over Ruling Breach

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  • by pointyhat ( 2649443 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:27AM (#41485687)
    I don't understand why they're doing this. There has been a browser choice screen shipped with it and via windows update for ages now. It stinks of profitteering on the part of the EU. You don't hear them suing the crap out of pharmaceutical companies for a monopoly either.
  • by buglista ( 1967502 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @04:19AM (#41485865)
    And some MS (I assume?) installs keep sneakily reverting me to fucking Bing. The offence is not having a monopoly - it's abusing it, ie. leveraging your other crap onto people's desktops by virtue of having dominance in the OS arena.
    If you had read the fucking article, you would have seen that MS admits the breach anyway: "The company acknowledged its mistake in July, saying it was now distributing software with the browser option and also offered to extend the compliance period for an additional 15 months."
  • by aglider ( 2435074 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @04:57AM (#41485971) Homepage

    Microsoft OS is not important, they don't provide any infrastructure at all.
    Servers running Linux and other Unix-like OSes are much more important.
    Most of the PCs you see in offices just run a browser to access a centralized application. When HTML5 will be made the standard, this situation will become more and more widespread.
    Microsoft Internet Explorer is not important any more [toptenreviews.com]. But it should be just a browser, not a piece of software tightly bolted into the OS.
    And when you buy a brand new PC you have to pay also for Windows in almost all the world. whether you like it or not.
    Shops could have PCs without any OS on the shelves. It's be up to the customer to ask for an OS of they choice and later on to choose the browser they like.

    NO, you are definitely wrong. Microsoft is not important. Freedom is.

  • by philip.paradis ( 2580427 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @04:57AM (#41485973)

    Speaking as someone who's been using Linux and championing it in server and limited, special purpose desktop environments since the 90s, I wholeheartedly agree with your general premise. That said, I think there's an important lesson here that you probably see yourself, but didn't express.

    Apple went from Mac OS 9 in 1999 (the final progression in the "classic" series beginning with 1.0 in 1984, closely followed by Windows 1.0 in 1985 [albeit only a highly limited MS-DOS graphical shell]) to Mac OS X in 1999/2000 following the purchase of NeXT in the 90s. This essentially meant Mac OS became a *nix operating system with a pretty GUI; the emphasis on its lineage is further reinforced by the release of Mac OS X Sever prior to a general desktop OS release. Especially considering the company's prior struggles and obvious challenges maintaining its existence as an integrated systems vendor (operating system plus their hardware), they really bet the farm on this.

    As it turns out, Mac OS X became what many people expected from the "Linux on the desktop" dream, at least in terms of basic *nix underpinnings and reasonable extensibility. This occurred because Apple drove the campaign bus, so to speak, as a single corporate entity bent on carving out its share of the market pie. They delivered what the market judged to be a good product, largely based on usability principles (that we may or may not personally agree with) and reputation for It Just Works reliability.

    Consequently, Apple is now the most valuable company in the world [forbes.com]. While I continue to operate all my server infrastructure on Debian, I'm typing this from a three year old MacBook Pro. In my view, consistency, stability, support, and marketing to tell the world about all of it have won the day for Apple. I have yet to see a single Linux vendor competently fulfill those requirements when it comes to mass market desktop sales. Perhaps I never will. In the end, that's actually okay with me, since I will simply continue to use the tool that works best and is best accepted in business environments for different roles. For several years running, that's mostly meant Debian on servers and Mac OS X on desktops, and things Just Work.

  • by martyros ( 588782 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @05:11AM (#41486013)

    A billion dollars for a browser choice dialouge? It is beyond my comphrension how this could be considered rational or acceptable in any way.

    Well the point of the fine is to make it economically adventageous for Microsoft to follow the law. Suppose that they were expecting to benefit by $250M (through network effects of having a larger market share, &c) by having 28 million people running IE by default instead of being given a choice. And suppose they thought there was a 50% chance they'd just get away with it. Ignoring morality or commitment to rule of law or anything like that, and looking only at money, what's the rational decision for the following fine amounts?

    • $100,000: Expected value of breaking the law is $250M - (0.5 * $100k) = $250M (rounded to 3 decimal places). No-brainer.
    • $100,000,000: Expected value of breaking the law is $250M - (0.5 * $100M) = $200M. This is just a 20% tax, but still well worth it.
    • $500,000,000: Expected value of breaking the law is $250M - (0.5 * $250M) = $0. But maybe our chances are a bit better than 50% -- and it's so easy, we might as well do it as not. Besides, at least we get to be evil, which we enjoy.
    • $1,000,000,000: Expected value of breaking the law is $250M - (0.5 * $1B) = $-250M. Ah -- probably not worth it then.

    Given the size of Microsoft, and the potential benefit they get from breaking the law, a "rational" fine is one big enough to make it "rational" for MS not to play games with the EU anymore.

  • by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @05:35AM (#41486081)

    And there is no mass shift to Mac - it's stable at around 5-6% market share of browser users

    Actually, it's risen steadily from 5% to 7% over the past few years. It may sound like a slow rise, but when you consider that only 20% of the PC market is home machines, and the rest is enterprise. Then you consider that paired with apple having near 0 penetration into the enterprise market, and you get to the conclusion that apple's share of the home market has gone from 25% to 35%... That's walking about money.

  • by sgbett ( 739519 ) <slashdot@remailer.org> on Friday September 28, 2012 @05:56AM (#41486157) Homepage

    QFT. If the extremists could stop treating OS choice as some kind of religion they might find that your post pretty much sums up the optimum setup for your typical *nix guy.

    Of course there are plenty of trees you can use to justify this not being the wood you are looking for, confirmation bias (which I realise I am also guilty of by singling out the parent as being all that is right with the world!) is strong, no more so then in the nerd, whose superior intellect quite easily rules out the subpar opinions of others!

    I think those that are locked into windows face the toughest challenge, the initial switch is hard. Redhat 8 was my baptism of fire. What *is* up with this 'X' thing why does it look so farked, why can't I hear anything, why are my graphics so shit, why doeas my machin keep locking up? wtf I can't access the network etc etc happy days :D

    For anyone that can (ie isn't *truly* dependant on windows as opposed to just not wanting to learn something new) take the plunge into the *nix based world though, there awaits freedom choice and power.

    So for me, really OSX is "linux on the desktop". It's just another distro, I tried several and when I hit osx it was game over, thanks everyone else for playing.

    OSX's hackery to the standard base is no more or less weird than your other monolithic distros' changes. Their package manager is shit hot. There are no driver issues, the gui is slick etc etc I know its not free as in beer, or free as in speech. Those things are way down my list, I just need to get shit done. If freedom or freeness is important to you, then OSX is not for you.

    Apple attracts its fair share of haters in absolute terms thats inevitable because of its penetration in the market. It would surely be interesting (if it were possible to measure such a thing?) to know what the relative satisfaction of each OS userbase was in percentage terms.

    I know us OSX users are stupid and not real developers, dbadmins, sysadmins etc. It's odd though I never feel the need to deride people that stick with Linux. My advice (if you can call it that) comes from a genuine delight in having found what I think is a great setup, and I want to share that with people. If they aren't interested then that's their choice (and if they haven't even tried it, then its hard not to feel a little bit of pity, however patronising that might sound).

    The name calling really undermines the credibility of any argument against OSX being the best *nix on the desktop out there. With linux (gentoo for me, but please choose whichever you like best) on the server boxen, It really feels like the best of both worlds, i've never been happier.

    I don't get why all the OS rage from windows/linux desktop users? it's almost like something might really be amiss ;)

  • by Splab ( 574204 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @06:02AM (#41486177)

    Oh really? Perhaps you should start reading news from other sources than the spoonfed 'merican sources.

    The EU are more than happy to sue the crap out of anyone who breaks the law, whether it's a local company or foreign megacorp. Also, it's not about profitteering, it's about protecting the consumers and competition, both locally and globally - 1 billion euro is nothing, it's a drop in the bucket when you deal with economics of the EU scale - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Greece [wikipedia.org] Greeze owes more than 300 billion euro, a one billion fine wouldn't even cover the interest for a quater of a year (let alone a month, depending on rate).

    Also, as Microsoft hasn't actually paid it's fines, using fines as a mean of providing income really isn't feasible...

  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Friday September 28, 2012 @06:51AM (#41486341) Homepage

    A billion dollars for a browser choice dialouge? It is beyond my comphrension how this could be considered rational or acceptable in any way.

    The browser choice thing is one of many possible solutions for the underlying problem that is anti-competitive behaviour.
    This anti-competitive behaviour was largely (though not solely) responsible for the downfall of Netscape.
    Whether that is worth a billion dollar is a different matter.
    It's notable that neither iOS nor Android has been subject to such regulation, despite both claiming to have the type of marketshare Microsoft had at the time.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"