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Europe wanted to rule over future Windows tech, says MS

A single rule to cover a pattern of conduct?

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An update sent to Microsoft partners following the European Commission's ruling against the company suggests that settlement negotiations broke down because Microsoft refused to agree to wide-ranging Commission requirements governing the company's future products. The Commission's stated view that the problem is not so much Media Player as the company's whole business model would certainly support the existence of such a requirement.

According to the partner update, "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."

It's not clear what this "single rule" might have been, but it's clear from Commission actions and statements that it sees a pattern of anticompetitive conduct in Microsoft's deployment of products and introduction of new features, and that it intends to dog the company closely in the future, using the investigation it has just concluded as a form of blueprint. So it may be the case that the Commission wished Microsoft to agree to boundaries that it would not cross in terms of the integration of new features into the OS.

Microsoft however cannot agree such a thing, or agree to changes in its business model, because it is its business model. If it can't go forward by integrating new features and engulfing new markets, well, how can it go forward? The execs must have seen such concessions as fatal, and even critics must surely puzzle over what Microsoft could possibly be if it agreed to stop being Microsoft. So war it had to be... ®

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