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Microsoft finally throws in EU towel

updated 02:35 pm EDT, Mon October 22, 2007

Microsoft gives in to EU

Microsoft today announced that it will not appeal an antitrust decision made by the European Union in 2004, bringing an end to three years of struggling by the Redmond-based company to evade hefty fines. European Union competition commissioner Neelie Kroes today said Microsoft's decision will have "profound effects" on the software industry, according to Reuters, and stated that the repercussions will start now and continue for "years to come." The software giant paid around $700,000 in 2004, followed by a whopping $400 million last year for failing to comply with the European Commission's demands. "It is a victory for the consumer," Kroes said.

"As from today Microsoft has established compliance, no doubt about that," Kroes added. "There is no reason to impose further penalties on Microsoft as of this day."

The commissioner maintained the possibility of further fining Microsoft for its failure to comply with demands between 2006 and today, however.

Microsoft in early March of 2007 was still refusing to comply with demands by the European Union to give third-party software developers fair access to its Windows code, and faced fines as high as $4 million per day if it failed to respond within a month's time.

"In the 50 years of European antitrust policy, it's the first time we've been confronted with a company that has failed to comply with an antitrust decision," the Commission said in early March when reflecting on Microsoft's non-compliance.

The Redmond-based company early last month even threatened to delay the forthcoming launch of Windows Vista as it voiced frustration over the steep fines related to antitrust rulings.

by MacNN Staff




  1. tortenteufel

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Kroes rules!

  1. malax

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I hope (and assume) the fine is demoninated in euros so Microsoft will pay that much more now (based on the weak dollar and the historically high value of the Euro).

  1. MacnnGregor

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Just proves ...

    .... that sometimes supposedly free marketeers are not always playing by truly free market rules and that government regs are sometimes important in preserving the free market.

    Conservatives have a hard time with that level of complexity and sophistication, but it is true.

  1. LenE

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Could be a strategic play

    Kind of like when they settle a suit with a nuisance patent troll, to set a precedent for their competitors to be sued by the same troll for more money. It's like a defensive scratch in pool, where you leave your opponent in a worse position than you were in when you took the scratch. Microsoft may be institutionally dumb, but they aren't all stupid.

    They see the same EU anti-trust group harassing Apple over iTunes, and they are in cahoots with Vivendi/Universal. It's no coincidence that the EU anti-trust people are siding with Vivendi in a case of continental protectionism. It isn't Apple's fault that the individual country laws, and the labels who wrote the media distribution laws force different pricing in the various countries. That doesn't stop Vivendi from screaming foul to the EU anti-trust body, because they resent iTune's market share and game-changing structure.

    Cheer them if you want, but the anti-trust regulators on any continent are the enemies of free markets. They only increase prices and interfere with supply and demand mechanisms with meddling that hinders all who participate in a given market. I'm a conservative who has no problem with complexity and sophistication, as I understand how anti-trust regulations usually hurt consumers by the law of unintended consequences (witness American wireless and telecoms and energy companies, federally regulated and thoroughly bad for consumers). The legacy of the Standard Oil and AT&T breakups, are arguably much larger and worse than the companies that were broken up by the trust busters. Microsoft should be left alone to die by their own suckiness.

  1. Clive

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Wow, nice spin on that one. For a start the iTunes investigation hasn't ended yet, Apple hasn't been found to be in breach of EU regulations, and the European Commission says it is more interested in tackling the record companies anyway!?

    So, er, where are you going with that line?

  1. ViktorCode

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The darkest day

    It is the darkest day for businesses operating in EU.

    It all started from EU 'me too' attitude and from the desire of US competing companies to battle on European ground. The most ridiculous cause - media player shipped with the OS - was used to start all-time favourite game: MS bashing. REAL was pleased. SUN was pleased, passing on its own portion of server related limits. At least it is over now...

    My favourite highlights: - Windows N, which really should be called EU Edition, and which no one bought except for online editors who grabbed a copy to write their reviews on it. - MS releasing server side documentation. Eurocommission says 'hard to read' (according to the only 'independent' analyst). MS points to several companies who used the docs to build their software. Eurocommission responds: 'Those are the US companies, we don't care'. (implying ... what? That European software companies are less interested/capable of writing soft in comparison to their US competitors?). Then MS offers source code instead of docs. Eurocommission refuses to accept it....

    I'm asking you now, what I, as a consumer of MS products, got in the end? Is it victory for me or for you, mr. Kroes? Or maybe it is a victory for US competition of Microsoft?

    Mister Kroes, be it in my will, I would enforce every member of Eurocommission which uses MS products to taste the fruits of that 'victory'. Like using Windows N.

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