EU fines Microsoft record $1.35 billion

The European Commission fined Microsoft a record 899 million euros ($1.35 billion) on Wednesday for defying sanctions imposed on the software giant for antitrust violations, far exceeding the original penalty.

The Commission, executive arm of the European Union, has now fined Microsoft 1.68 billion euros for its original violation and for failing to comply with sanctions, more than any other firm. It said no other company had ever ignored sanctions.

"Microsoft was the first company in 50 years of EU competition policy that the Commission has had to fine for failure to comply with an antitrust decision," Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement.

The company said in a statement that the fines concerned "past issues" and it was now looking to the future.

View: Reuters

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44 Comments

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To be honest, I think Microsoft can easily recuperate this 1.35 Billion from sales in Europe anyway. Why would they pull out?

I'm so tired of MS being the target of the antitrust suits. The company produces a product that everyone wants, they should not be foreced to help the competition. I wish they would just pull all MS products from Europe and stop supporting their corporations. Let them use Unix or Apple.

I've noticed an interesting comparison here:

Neowin - Majority of posters take Microsoft's side
Slashdot - Majority of posters take the EU's side

I know I shouldn't be surprised. I just fine it interesting opinions are so polarized depending on where you go. You'd think Microsoft's monopolistic business practices that bend laws to operate would be common knowledge by now. I guess not.

(waxman830 said @ #14.1)
Someone please explain to me how MS is in anyway a monopoly??? Anyone??? Come on, somebody? Some cheese eating surrender monkey??

I first thought that was sarcasm. Of course they are a monopoly you silly billy.

(Munkyman said @ #14.2)

I first thought that was sarcasm. Of course they are a monopoly you silly billy.

How?? I knew nobody could do it. Silly Billy, how about you weak sister. You are the same as all the rest, just spout crap and have nothing to back it up. If they are a monopoly, then tell me how.

EU- Is wasting a lot of resources on Microsoft ... They are just wasting money

They should be looking into Intels practices ... instead


If you don't like their products or business practices .... DON"T do business with them
or buy their products.

I have zero sympathy for Microsoft. They do the exact same thing to their customers in overpriced software. And yes that is fact, as Microsoft has had many separate court rulings in America stating so.

But you dont have to buy their software, go with another software company. Can I complain about an overpriced car that I dont have to buy?

(TC17 said @ #11)
I have zero sympathy for Microsoft. They do the exact same thing to their customers in overpriced software. And yes that is fact, as Microsoft has had many separate court rulings in America stating so.

And who is making you buy their software? oh that's right that was YOUR decision... Nothing stoped you from going Open Office, Linux, Mac OSX, etc....

(Thrawn said @ #10)
Let's see them enforce it :-p

It's too bad MS wouldn't take that route.

What makes you think it won't be enforced? This is not exactly a car parking fine, is it?

So basically Microsoft is being held to a different standard according to vaguely written rules and laws subject to very wide interpretations. Especially considering they are the ONLY software company held to those standards. I doubt the EU is going to be happy until Microsoft becomes completely open source, and is giving away their entire catalogue of software for free. Even then, they will be in trouble if they somehow manage to have a bigger share than anyone else.

If their competitors are not happy, they should write software for Linux and bring that OS up to snuff for the desktop instead of whining about how they can't beat Microsoft without Microsoft's help.

As for those who keep saying they broke the law... please cite the text of the law. There is the problem, the text of the law is so vague that it only applies after the court has decided if they want to punish someone for it. Prime example, at what exact point does it change from providing enhancements the customers request to bundling to take unfair advantage of the large market share? It is adding a notepad function? FTP capabilities? Ability to play media files? Ability to browse the web? I don't recall a list being posted anywhere for developers to go by. If I create a word processor, should I leave out Spell checking since there are third party folks who write such software? How about if I leave out any clip art since there are also third parties for that? Without clear definitions it's easy to lay blame wherever you feel like, or to punish anyone just because you feel like they have to much of a good thing.

(buletov said @ #9.1)
The fine is for not providing specification for their Server OS.

Actually the fine is for not providing the documentation for their API's at a "reasonable cost" which was not defined by the first ruling. The courts just decided that the rate that Microsoft was lisencing the access at (0.7%) was to high, even though they had not set an amount before hand. Again, this is a case of setting vague standards then punishing those they feel like for not meeting those standards. I blame MS for allot of things, but this is just getting ridiculous.

(Oserus99 said @ #9)
they should write software for Linux and bring that OS up to snuff for the desktop instead of whining...

Be careful what you wish for... If you hadn't noticed this is happening!

Europe sales are about 40% of Microsoft's revenues. The US needs every penny of foreign currency, when oil is no longer priced in dollars. Oh and there is likely more fines to come :nuts:

The best thing MS could do is cut off the EU!! No more updates no more software, zip, zero just let them twist in the wind. Just pull all business out of the EU, why waste the time? And then watch them come crawling back willing to pay whatever MS wants them to. Don't pay the fine just quit doing business with these fools and then you don't have to worry about anymore fines or this one. 40%, pfffftftfffttt, that's a good one. Sounds like the EU needs every penny of foreign currency. :P

The 2 billion they receive from MS is negligible compared to the budget. Furthermore, the penalty needs to be high in order to force MS to comply - the way MS handled this - they were asking for it.

(Iridium said @ #4)
Microsoft should just pull of of the EU and let them rot using OSX or something

oh man you are funny , no really you are , MS need the Eu its a large portion of their income , get real will you lol

(Iridium said @ #4)
Microsoft should just pull of of the EU and let them rot using OSX or something

Its not quiet to that point YET, they will for now just continue to subsidize there fines with more price increases.

Microsoft should just pull of of the EU and let them rot using OSX or something

I guess we could only dream of such an opportunity. I guess for now we'll have to continue being 'blessed' by Microsofts wonderful products.

this has been going on for years. they have been treating microsoft like their own little piggy bank.

Microsoft(n)
1: A leader in desktop and corporate software solutions
2: A company many envy
3: A company that second rate countries uses to subsidize their already bloated bureaucracies and socialist programs by filing frivolous lawsuits

(seta-san said @ #3)
this has been going on for years. they have been treating microsoft like their own little piggy bank.

Microsoft(n)
1: A leader in desktop and corporate software solutions
2: A company many envy
3: A company that second rate countries uses to subsidize their already bloated bureaucracies and socialist programs by filing frivolous lawsuits

a company that also broke the law in the area they where trading in

Absolutely agree. In fact, and one who bothers to find out how this has all panned out would agree. The EU is a joke and even I wish Microsoft were able to (it's not) stick two fingers up at it and pull out ALL Microsoft software from the whole of Europe. I live in the UK by the way... Guess who'd be begging then? Unfortunately that isn't going to happen. The EU need to grow up.

(alsheron said @ #3.2)
...
The EU need to grow up.
And accept that Microsoft is above the EU fair business regulations that are set up? That all other companies doing business in the EU must comply, but just issue Microsoft a waiver?

(markjensen said @ #3.3)
And accept that Microsoft is above the EU fair business regulations that are set up? That all other companies doing business in the EU must comply, but just issue Microsoft a waiver?

microsoft has been complying with the EU's orders to disclose their API. They even offered the raw source code and they didn't want it. Everytime time microsoft has complied they have moved the finish line on them. The EU doesn't want microsoft to be able to comply. It's already too easy of an income source for them.

(seta-san said @ #3.4)
microsoft has been complying with the EU's orders to disclose their API. They even offered the raw source code and they didn't want it. Everytime time microsoft has complied they have moved the finish line on them. The EU doesn't want microsoft to be able to comply. It's already too easy of an income source for them.
Because the EU didn't ask for source code. The EU didn't want the source code. And, other people writing code based on looking at the source code fall into a legal trap regarding copyright. Surely you already know about cleanroom procedures when it comes to software. You write code off of a specification, not other people's source code.

And you neglected to mention how long this process is taking. For years, Microsoft has employed delay tactics. When they finally ponied up some documentation on their SMB protocol, it was insufficient - you could not write a compatible software because it was incomplete.

The fine seems large, but Microsoft has certainly earned some sort of punitive judgment. You would be blind to not agree that Microsoft has dragged their feet on this.

(alsheron said @ #3.2)
I wish Microsoft were able to (it's not) stick two fingers up at it and pull out ALL Microsoft software from the whole of Europe.

That would be fantastic. Free Europe from clutches of evil.

(markjensen said @ #3.5)
And you neglected to mention how long this process is taking. For years, Microsoft has employed delay tactics. When they finally ponied up some documentation on their SMB protocol, it was insufficient - you could not write a compatible software because it was incomplete.

Exactly. Microsoft delayed, produced an incomplete API and then charged prohibitively high licence fees for it. As much good as Microsoft has done they are still acting against the interests of consumers. Heck, there was the recent fuss over Office 2007 and ability to open older documents - they basically prevented access without an absurd registry workaround that they knew most people wouldn't use. They eventually had to give in when enough people complained.

Microsoft creates some great products and offers a lot of top quality internet services, many of which are free. However, that does not mean they should be treated more leniently when they break competition laws. Microsoft were punished for trying to prolong legal processes and constantly trying to work around EU rulings. It's not about the EU moving the goal posts but Microsoft trying to bypass them and find workarounds that went against the intent of the rulings. It's like Microsoft being told they're only allowed 11 people on a football pitch and bringing out cyborgs instead.

(theyarecomingforyou said @ #3.7)
acting against the interests of consumers. (you are obviously talking about EU)
incomplete API (WTF?)
charged prohibitively high licence fees (0.7%)
they basically prevented access (to word for DOS)
It's like Microsoft being told (they must help the other team because they won previous match)

(seta-san said @ #3)
3: A company that second rate countries uses to subsidize their already bloated bureaucracies and socialist programs by filing frivolous lawsuits

EU GDP 2007: $16.6 trillion.
Fine against Microsoft: insignificant.

This suit is about Microsoft thumbing their nose at EU laws. If MS wants to do business in the EU, it will have to obey EU laws. Why must MS be treated like it's above the law? MS is nothing special, and we'd (businesses and consumers) be better off if operating systems became open-sourced, so that no single corrupt and inept company like MS could extort us over them, or use operating systems as spyware platforms on behalf of some government or organization. Or harass us with DRMs and WGAs.

A company that second rate countries uses to subsidize their already bloated bureaucracies and socialist programs by filing frivolous lawsuits

I think I can quite rightly say to the original poster a hefty great SCREW YOU. Second rate countries?

I'd wager that the European economy is in a far healthier state than that of the United States, pal. Have you taken a look at the state of your finances lately? Do you realise just how much China is OWNING you?

well hold me down and spank me with a kipper , the EU actually decided on something for once ? man maybe there not just a bunch of old bafoons sitting round sipping gin and tonic after all