Feeds

MS vs. EC: Final Q&A and final pleadings

Thank you and good night

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The Judges were arrayed before the shrinking audience like Michelangelo’s Last Supper, complete with white napkins tucked incongruously under their chins.

But Judge John D Cooke had saved some fireworks for the last session, just when it seemed to be all but over. After warming up by checking details of who got what statement of objections, he described the commission offer of a proposal to Microsoft as akin to having a gun put to your head and given 30 seconds to hand over your wallet.

Judge Cooke moved onto the Trustee - the first time such an appointment has been made in such a case, something which clearly left him in need of reassurance.

He said the commission was effectively imposing a permanent quango on Microsoft and asked if the commission was attempting to reclaim its costs in imposing such a big fine. For the commission, Mr Whelan denied this. He was asked how he could justify imposing the costs of the Trustee on Microsoft and replied that Microsoft had the chance to short-list candidates for the post and the nature of the settlement meant that Microsoft had to be “intimately involved”.

Judge Cooke said: “That’s all very well….But the thing that is worrying about the introduction of this elaborate device is that you are effectively outsourcing the costs of policing your own decision.”

In one of the more dramatic moments of the afternoon Judge Cooke asked: “There are two distinct histories and two findings of abuse. But there is one single fine. How are we to exercise our judicial duty if we find in favour of one abuse and against the other?”

Commission lawyer Fernando Castillo de la Torre mentioned precedents like Tetrapak and Michelin before accepting the commission had not considered such a thing. He added weakly that maybe the fine could be split 50/50.

After a break, we reconvened at 5.15pm to hear final pleadings. Microsoft's barrister, Jean-François Bellis, summed up their view that the commission had failed to show Windows and Media Player were separate products and had provided no evidence of indirect foreclosure - keeping rivals out of a market. Ian Forrester, another Microsoft lawyer, was next to his feet saying it felt like the last steps of a marathon or the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games.

He said: “Microsoft cases are technical and passionate and the company raises unique levels of concern, described by some as more of Sovereign state than a market competitor."

He said the decision was unlawful and imposed penalties in perpetuity. He hoped the court would ensure that competition law and good sense should stay in step.

Per Hellstrom, for the commission, said the court had seen there was no integration between Media Player and Windows - it had just been stuck on the same CD. He said there was clear evidence of market foreclosure shown by market data and Microsoft’s own submissions. He said the fact that Microsoft had achieved dominance in other areas without tying products - such as Word - showed the commission was interested in the process of dominance, not the result.

He said the commission was not asking Microsoft to be nice to its competitors, but simply that it compete on merit and not by leveraging its desktop monopoly, however tempting that may be.

Hellstrom said: “The commission does not wish to regulate the software industry but we want to stop Microsoft doing so.”

He called on the court to uphold the decision and ask Microsoft to pay all costs.

Speaking to reporters outside the court, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said: “It’s been a long but constructive week. The court’s questions were very thorough and I think everyone in the room has a better understanding of what’s at stake…. It’s not just Microsoft’s ability to improve products but other companies too…. We have an important relationship with the European Community and thousands of employees throughout the European Union just as we have more to our relationship with the EC than just competition issues.”

Smith said no one could predict the outcome of the case and he certainly wouldn’t try to. He would not be drawn on whether this week’s case had influenced his thinking on ongoing discussions with the commission about Microsoft next operating system - Vista. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop
Web giant looking into why version 5.0 of Android is crippling older slabs
Be real, Apple: In-app goodie grab games AREN'T FREE – EU
Cupertino stands down after Euro legal threats
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
SLURP! Flick your TONGUE around our LOLLIPOP – Google
Android 5 is coming – IF you're lucky enough to have the right gadget
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Bada-Bing! Mozilla flips Firefox to YAHOO! for search
Microsoft system will be the default for browser in US until 2020
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.