Feeds

Microsoft awaits European Court decision

Split decision possible

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

The European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg will rule on Monday whether the guilty verdict against Microsoft should be overturned.

The software giant was found guilty of anti-competitive practices in 2004. The Court ruled Microsoft was in breach of article 82 of the EC Treaty for abusing its dominant position in the PC operating system market and the market for work group operating systems.

The case hinged on its bundling of Windows Media Player with its operating system, and whether it restricted access to server APIs, making it impossible for rival server makers to create boxes which could communicate with Microsoft boxes. The Court found Microsoft guilty of abusing its dominant position in both cases.

In April last year the Court of First Instance heard Microsoft's appeal against that verdict. The panel of 13 judges and one registrar heard five days of evidence from the Directorate General for Competition and Microsoft. The Court heard evidence from several experts including Samba founder Andrew Tridgell. The Samba project aims to create Microsoft server APIs by reverse engineering.

The case is one of the largest the European Competition Commission has ever brought. If the guilty verdict is upheld Microsoft is liable for a €500m fine. Microsoft also had to offer a version of Windows without a bundled media player and had to appoint a Trustee, Professor Neil Barrett, to oversee its continued compliance with European Commission demands.

Microsoft insists it has fully complied with the original DG for Competition demands.

The case is being pitched by some observers as an acid test for the DG for Competition, which will be re-energised if its action against Microsoft is upheld. It will give the institution more confidence to pursue other technology cases. But the result may not be so clear-cut. It is quite possible that the decision will be divided – Microsoft could be found innocent of bundling its media player, but guilty on the issue of server APIs. In April the appeal Court questioned why there was one fine for what was effectively two offences.

Court President Bo Vesterdorf is retiring after presenting the verdict.

John D Cooke is the judge-rapporteur who will compile the final decision. Previous decisions have been criticised as being too inclusive. By trying to include the opinions of 13 judges from different European countries, some lawyers complain that the lengthy documents end up contradicting themselves and not really offering a solid precedent for future legal decisions.

Microsoft or the DG could appeal the verdict on a point of law. It would then be heard by the European Court of Justice.

The Reg is not taking bets on the likely outcome – a very small number of people within the DG will get early access to the verdict. But the word from lawyers in the know is that a split decision is likely, with Microsoft winning on bundling its media player but losing on the issue of interoperability information for workgroup servers.

We'll bring you the verdict first thing on Monday morning – Vesterdorf is giving the verdict at 9.30am central European summer time.®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.