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EU: Microsoft Is a Monopoly




In a decision handed down today, a European Union court upheld a lower court’s ruling that Microsoft was a monopoly that abused its market dominance, Reuters reports.

Upholding a 2004 ruling, despite Microsoft’s appeal, the court reinstated the $689.9 million fine. Deciding that Microsoft had tied its software to its latest Windows operating system (Vista) to stifle their competition. Microsoft also refused to supply potential competitors with information to make their programs function smoothly in Windows.

In addition to the fine, Microsoft will have to supply versions of Vista without Windows Media Player included, and share some of the information required to better integrate software with their competitors.

Reuters reports that the EU’s Competition Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, has taken this as a ringing endorsement. Having this case taken care of will clear up some time in Kroes’s schedule for going after other large corporations: Intel, Qualcomm and Rambus.

There could be one more round of appeal to the highest EU court, the European Court of Justice. Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith said they had not yet decided whether they would appeal.

While the decision may be important in Europe, it may also just be another in a string of antitrust cases to Microsoft. I’m pretty surprised that for all the antitrust fuss, the only program that Microsoft was required not to bundle was Window Media Player. Let’s see a decision with some teeth—make them not include Internet Explorer or Microsoft Office!

  • http://www.wannatech.com Marguerite Jasmin

    What? You get Microsoft Windows with Microsoft Office included, at no extra charge? Where do you find such a deal? Unless you’re talking about a trial version…

  • http://www.blockfirefox.com Jake

    They already provided Europe with a version of XP that had Windows Media Player left out.

    Nobody bought it.

    Internet Explorer was made an optional part of XP & Vista. You don’t have to install it. Yet everybody does.

    This is a simple case of EU greed and jealousy.

    — Jake

  • http://bushidoblog.com.ar Bushido

    Microsoft!?… a monopoly!? You don’t say :P

  • http://www.yellowhousehosting.com/resources/ Steven Bradley

    I’m not at all surprised with the decision of the EU. At the same time I don’t expect to see any significant changes in Windows.

  • http://www.wordhugger.com Word Hugger

    $680+ million… ouch.

  • CoolKoon

    Jake, I wish you to be exploited by all the possible monopolies in the world without any possibility to avoid that. Only then will you know that antitrust trials exist for a good reason. I also hope that Micro$oft will be forced to pay the fine.

  • http://www.incom-business-systems.co.uk Daniel Warren

    We all know that Microsoft is a large company, but they have invested the money in developing their products. As Jake said there where versions released of XP without Media Player and those copies flew off the shelves so fast that there was not chance for dust to form… oh wait I am wrong I see them in the corner under the 8 inches of dust as the number of copies sold could most likely be counted up by a 4 year old.

    I would not class myself as the biggest Microsoft fan and yes they do have products everywhere. But is that not everyone in business’s dream.

    If I want to avoid microsoft products there are options out there but that does seem to go to the extreme.

    If I want to use Microsoft OS and run a different browser on my machine I have that option with firefox opera and so on and so forth. If i want to miss media play I can buy Quick-Time realplayer and so on and so forth.

    A lot of this judgement seems to be bad blood against a company that has been successful. yeah there are fuzzy areas about Microsofts past before people go off on that but then again there are very very few companies that have not a bit of their history they are not the best impressed with.

    By the way where does this $689.9 million go? who gets it how do you claim for it?

    Cause if the EU courts get it who governs how it is spent? If the European govenments get it who governs how it is spent? (dont want them using their share to buy a new computer system with a Microsoft OS that would be too ironic). Or does it get given to the people who owned companies that went bankrupt because they where unable to compete with Microsoft? (if so that seems like a way of rewarding someone for not being good enough at their job)

    This Judgement does seem wrong if a company is better than ours for what ever reason we cant sue them for being good at what they do. We can watch them and learn how to be better ourselves till we are better than them. We can hire better staff. We can monitor our failings and ensure we improve them. Is this not the way companies have become good at what they do since the market place started. Consummers do vote with their feet, Microsoft provide products that consummers want or people would not buy them.

  • http://www.linksbuilding.net asso

    Microsoft a monopoly , this thisng scares.

  • Jason

    The only way for this to work itself out is for Microsoft to pay the stupid fines imposed, and wait this thing out. Nothing will happen. No-one will make better products, and nothing will be gained…but people with crappy products will still sue Microsoft for their own failures. It seems even when you make a terrible product, all you have to do is sue Microsoft to break even.

  • http://www.incom-business-systems.co.uk Daniel Warren

    It would be hard to imagine a world without the Microsoft influence. asso I don’t think you are correct the definition of monopoly is “A market type in which there is a sole supplier of a good, service, or resource that has no close substitutes and in which there is a barrier preventing the entry of new firms into the industry.” Microsoft are large and have their fingers in many pies regarding computers from OS’s to applications, communications from email through VoIP to soft telephones and pagers. But this shows a diverse business sense. To be a monopoly they would have to be the only suppliers or manufactures of these products.

    IF that is the case then I feel sorry for Avaya, Aastra, Panasonic, IBM, Apple, Adobe, Sun Microsystems, Intel, Netscape, AOL time Warner, Cisco as well as all the other companies that make software for computers even the companies that make money out of selling and manufacturing Linux. Because obviously they are only making something and not entering into the market place (maybe someone should tell their staff!)

    I don’t see any barrier to stop companies entering the market place, yes Microsoft releasing their coding would assist many companies in writing apps that would sit nicely on the Microsoft OS. But if Coca Cola could hold off people what ingredient X was for so many years and still keep it a secret (except to health and safety people in governments) why should Microsoft be forced to release information that will take the work out of running a business for all their competitors.

    Within the UK British Telecom was seen as a being a monopoly which it truly was a government sanctioned company to run all telecommunications within the UK and it was then forced to open its lines up to allow other companies to compete which was fair enough now we have telephone companies like NTL, Virgin, Daisy, Thus, offering services and telephone calls at cheaper rates which is good. But in this instance it was a sole trader you had to purchase their product if you wanted a telephone in your home. That is not the case with Microsoft ok you need some knowledge of computer systems if you want to have the functionality of a MS computer system without any MS installed but surely that is the user’s problem and the manufacture of the software that you have installed that it does not have the ease of use of MS products.

    In 1998 Linux was free to all and some versions still are but their are many many versions out their now you have to buy that’s a turn around!

    If Microsoft had stuck with the format for Windows 3.11 do you think we would be having this conversation… For that matter do you think that if Windows 3.11 was the standard and others had had to develop and push their OS’s that as many people as are at present would be on their home computers, work computers communicating with friends, businesses would the internet have developed to the stage where you can telephone someone via the internet using IP to cut the price of telephone calls?

    Or would we still be in the Dos age?
    Or would IBM, or Netscape/Aol be in court instead, there will always be someone wanting to make money from someone else’s enterprise.

    Rather than suing a company that is doing better than them these companies/governments would do better to invest the money they have spent on these court cases on better training of the work force and better development of coding.