What does Microsoft's European defeat mean?
Microsoft today lost the majority of its appeal against the European Commission anti-trust decision. Microsoft will have to open up access to its server protocols, continue selling a version of its Windows operating system without Media Player, and pay a fine of at least €497m.
But Microsoft did have the imposition of monitoring trustee removed.
Guy Lougher, national head of EU and competition group at Pinsent Masons, told The Reg: "It's not necessarily the end of the story - Microsoft still has two months in which to appeal. There is likely room on points of law for an appeal against either the bundling or the interoperability issues. They will need to pore over the lengthy judgement carefully but there's likely to be room for a challenge if they choose to take it."
Lougher said if the judgement stands it will create opportunities for smaller businesses to challenge the interoperability restrictions of larger companies, as well as launching possible challenges to companies selling bundled packages of applications.
As for the impact on the Directorate General for Competition, Lougher said: "Since the original decision the commission has been effectively waiting for the court's decision. It has suffered several reverses at the hands of the court so this is an opportunity for the commission to be more active and aggressive. It is certainly a filip for morale.
"The sums involved would pay for a lot of expenses. Microsoft may decide it has little to lose by appealing. If it doesn't appeal this decision it may well face tougher fights in the future."
Michael Reynolds, a partner at Allen & Overy's international anti-trust group in Brussels, said: "This is important for the IT industry because companies negotiating with Microsoft who feel they are being treated abusively will have this decision in mind." Reynolds led the team representing Sun Microsystems which made the original complaint against Microsoft.
Reynolds said the verdict will give the commission renewed confidence. He said: "The commission decided not to settle this case. That was a very important decision and it was a bit of a gamble. Having gone down that road it is now in a very strong position, not just for Microsoft, but for dealing with other cases too. There are other investigations on the books and others like Google and IBM."
Asked whether Microsoft is likely to appeal, Reynolds said: "I think it might be difficult. The court has reaffirmed existing law rather than made big leaps forward."
For a US perspective we spoke to Carole Handler, vice chair of the IP Litigation Practice at Foley & Lardner. She said: "It's fascinating from a US perspective because the EU takes a much more proactive view of anti-trust regulation. The court has upheld a requirement to hand over intellectual property. It suggests that that EU will take a tougher line on Rambus and Intel."
Handler also said the decision could have an impact on strengthening US regulation, as could the upcoming US election. She said for multinational companies dealing with many different jurisdictions a situation could develop where rather than operate under many different sets of rules, companies instead choose the most rigorous set of rules in order that they are in fact compliant with everyone's regulations. ®
Utter socialist garbage!!!
"She said for multinational companies dealing with many different jurisdictions a situation could develop where rather than operate under many different sets of rules, companies instead choose the most rigorous set of rules in order that they are in fact compliant with everyone's regulations."
By extension to this UTTERLY flawed argument, the Internet should be subject to oppressive restrictions on freedom of speech because the content is available in places like China and the Middle East? WRONG!
ENOUGH of this rule by the lowest common denominator. ENOUGH of this socialist "We know what's better for you than you do" crap!
When you choose to PURCHASE a product or VISIT a web site or any of the myriad choices you make as an adult human being, you must accept at least most of the accountability for that choice. If you don't like Windows Media Player or Microsoft Windows then step AWAY from the checkout counter, moron. Nobody forces ANYONE to buy anything.
Monopoly? Who makes them a monopoly? The IDIOTS who buy their products. The same idiots who cheer when a court hands down an obvious verdict and fines Microsoft hundreds of millions of euros. Why are you cheering fools? YOU are the ones who paid this fine, You paid it months or years ago when you purchased the same software you are now bemoaning. And guess what? It had Media Player and IE in it then and it will have it in there tomorrow and forever because it's the law of consumption which drives companies like Microsoft to act, not misguided and impotent court actions.
Why misguided? Because this anti-competitive crap was valid in the 90's but NOW users have a choice to replace any Microsoft product with a cheaper (or free) and probably better product that does not hinder them or impede them in any way.
Why impotent? Because Microsoft would have probably paid more to settle this case in the first place and now this establishes a precedent whereby the European courts can bash Microsoft's competitors who are now much stronger in the Server space than they are. Microsoft must have soiled itself laughing.
Down with M$
Linux needs some big manufacturers...you haven't heard? M$ has tried to stop Linux (here in the US, at least) by waving patent violations at it - well over 200 at last count. Of course, they've now got IBM glaring at them from the other side of the fence, since IBM is now supporting open source software, so I don't know how far that's going to go, and IBM is still sore over PS/2, and like an elephant, has a long memory... but to the EU I say: I wish you were here. We could use courts and laws with balls and teeth, not judges that pander to big corporations and politicians.
I use XP and Office, but because I have to for school... right now I'm investigating various Linux flavors (sounds like ice cream, doesn't it? yum!) to see which one I like via virtual machine... and while I may be forced to use XP/Office, it DOESN'T mean I have to use IE, WMP, and the other bundled goodies M$ forces down consumers throats. And if you ever want a laugh... imagine the conversation between the befuddled consumer whose laptop is being sent back in for repair, who is moaning and groaning about Windows Vista; the retailer help desk technician (me) on line 1 extolling the virtues of FireFox, and the OEM agent on the line 2 singing the praises of Opera...
Some people have short memories
Windows isn't on 95% of desktops because Microsoft forced it there, it's on 95% of desktops because the market likes standards because they drive prices down.
Anyone remember the computer market in the 80s? Lots of "choice", lots of incompatibilities, lot's of unneccessary expense.
Why did most companies big enough to have an IT budget get rid of their Macs and standardize on Windows? Because 1 standard is cheaper than 2.
And lastly, how did the internet become something that "ordinary people" came to take for granted? Because Microsoft built WinSock support into Win95, and bundled Internet Explorer. All those companies that sold WinSock stacks for Win3x were screwed, but the Web would never have gone mainstream if Microsoft had been prevented from building Winsock support into the Operating System.