A $2.2 Billion "Slap on the Hand" Coming to Microsoft?

In the never-ending saga of Microsoft antitrust "slaps on the hand," the Redmond company might receive the healthiest financial penalty yet from the European Union Antitrust Commission. A reported fine of $2.2 billion is currently cooking by the EU Antitrust regulators, and could be served as early as February 26, 2008, according to sources who wished to remain anonymous, cited by Bloomberg. The new financial penalties are intimately connected with the landmark 2004 antitrust decision against Microsoft for the bundling of Windows Media Player in the Windows operating system and for the refusal of sharing information on Windows server protocol technology. The initial conclusion was enforced by the ruling from the EU Court of First Instance in Luxembourg, at the end of 2007.

Initially, Microsoft was fined no less than 497 million Euro, and the financial penalty was increased to a total of 775 million Euro (approximately $1.1 billion) by a subsequent 280.5 million Euro fine. In March 2007, the EU Antitrust Commission threatened Microsoft with millions of Euro in daily fines, starting with December 2005, for its failure to comply with the 2004 antitrust ruling.

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"the Redmond company might receive the healthiest financial penalty yet from the European Union Antitrust Commission."

Are they hiring pre-schoolers as writers now? God it must be embarrassing to not comprehend English well enough to understand "healthiest".

How the EU has managed to spend their first theft from Microsoft I have no idea. Maybe they should rob a bank instead. At least it would make more sense.

Must be after they saw how much MS was willing to casually toss away on Yahoo. MS could surely spare a couple billion to keep the EU quiet.

it is ridiculous that MS is blamed for bundling WMP, like the suit they faced about IE years ago.
Have people ever heard of Aggregate Value for products? this is how i see this. If they block the installation of something, there will be different, but it isn't right now.

(ajua said @ #18)
Have people ever heard of Aggregate Value for products?

There's nothing stopping anyone from downloading WMP. MS has an unfair advantage over competitors when it bundles non-essential applications with the OS.

I still haven't figured out how it has become Microsoft's responsibility to help it's competitors write better software. So far no one has been forced to buy Windows (and before you jump down my throat, even the PC manufacturers were not forced to buy Windows. They CHOSE to sign those contracts in exchange for heavy discounts fro Microsoft. They can only blame their own greed and short sidedness for that situation.)

Maybe if these companies who have been "damaged" by not being able to compete in the Windows arena turned their efforts to writing software for Linux a whole new market may emerge for them. It would be one solution to the catch 22 of Linux (not enough commercial software because there are not enough users because there is not enough commercial software.)

Personally, would I like to have proper documentation for the Microsoft API's? Sure. Do I think they should be forced to give me it? No. That is their choice. Free market philosophy says that if they continue doing something to hurt their product's acceptance they will fail to keep market share. So I continue to write software for both Windows, and better versions for Linux. (Of course right now I can't make a bloody thing on the Linux versions because the Linux community still has an aversion to paying for anything. That is a separate issue.)

It seems the EU union will simply not be satisfied with any action MS makes. Microsoft did deserve some of it, and it's good that they're opening up their software. But they've already hit MS before, MS responded, but the EU did not like their response because of the price:

"Microsoft did implement a Windows server protocol licensing program, but the EU Commission argued that the prices demanded by the company were too high in comparison with the small amount of innovation comprised by the technology."

I doubt this will be the last penalty either. They will probably start putting fines on other immaterial things like the one with windows media player. I think it's just pushing it at this point, at this rate MS may incur more losses than profit from the EU market, increasing the prices for their software to account for this will probably get them into another lawsuit, maybe something like "charging too much for non-innovative technology". If they demand change they're getting it, but apparently what they want is the money.

this is such a sham. people dont want to buy an OS with less features, and the average user is simply not capable of making even more decisions, and in fact doesnt want to when it comes to using their OS, they just want to use it.

anyways, the proof is in their treatment of other companies like apple, its more restrictive and has even less options, but its okay because their smaller. i understand that microsoft has done some pretty questionable things in the past, but so far as I can tell, that has nothing to do with this fine

people, you cant have it both ways; you either have free markets or you have state owned companies, you cant have government telling corporations which features they can or cant install unless its something unethical and/or illegal, neither of which apply when you're telling one group its not okay while you let others slide (in the case of media players).

How is WMP grounds for an anti-trust lawsuit? WMP is removable for one. And Windows users are free to download, install, and set up any other media player they choose as the default player.

Hell, whenever I reformat I always download VLC player and set that up as the default player. I don't think I have used WMP in the past several years.

This lawsuit makes no sense.

Exactly, it is too bad that the USDOJ didn't have the same cojones as the EU. Anything that promotes competition is healthy for the industry and good for the consumer. It is unfortunate that Microsoft has such an ugly history of anti-competitive practices. They are only shooting themselves in the foot.

(X'tyfe said @ #11)
this is called justice people
and microsoft got it hard and rough

No this is called stupidity on the EU, yet again. They can claim all this antitrust all they want, but fact is users DONT WANT the stripped down versions

Of course users don't want stripped down versions of Windows - however, we most certainly do want fair competition and want to be protected from aggressive business practices. Microsoft has done a lot of good for the industry - heck, it practically invented personal computing as we know it - but it still continues to act in an anti-competitive manner in many areas. The EU only managed to get Microsoft to open up some of their protocols through huge financial penalties, which is quite a ridiculous situation.

I want to make sure the EU is accountable and that the fine isn't merely a nice little money earner but I also want them to protect EU citizens from aggressive, anti-consumer business tactics and money is what speaks clearest to businesses / shareholders. We're hardly in a fair position to comment on this specific fine because 1) it is only a rumour, and 2) we do not have access to, or the ability to analyse, the same information as the EU - but is it really that hard to imagine that Microsoft has broken competition laws? The US has investigated Microsoft and recently extended monitoring, so it suggests that there is plenty going on here.

(X'tyfe said @ #11)
this is called justice people
and microsoft got it hard and rough

Will everyone be saying the same thing when they go after Apple someday? Yes someday Apple could be a majority... and Apple does like to lock you into formats and their software

(LipSmacker said @ #10)
In all seriousness, where would the money end up going? I shudder to think that the rich would just get richer...

Personally, and this is me... I think the money if they did fine them this should go to people who don't have money to start their own technology company... there are lots of people out there with great ideas, just no money to make them into light!

To David Rockefeller's United Nations probably! (Google: United Nations Rockefeller) Was Ron Paul right? :worried: The New World Order

In all seriousness, where would the money end up going? I shudder to think that the rich would just get richer...

Most EU money goes on the CAP, and most of that goes to France.

So, basically it will be used to subsidise French farmers, ironically killing off competition in the food markets. This leads to massive over-production, environmental damage, 3rd world poverty (they can't compete with subsidised food), and below standard food.

USA sells Europe many billions of dollars of dodgy CDO's / SIV's (sub-prime stuff) an Europe claw back some from Microsoft !
It's call capitalism folks. :nuts:

Never understood the WMP thing. It's a needed application that can be removed. Microsoft does play tricky and should be pulled up for it but the WMP in Windows I just don't see what's wrong with it.

I wish one day Windows out of the box would be as fully featured as the latest Apple OS but that's never going to happen with the EU being like this over silly things.

Anyone tried Windows DVD Maker? that should be classified as one of the worst apps ever. Maybe that was just MS but perhaps it's so they didn't get another slap on the wrists from the EU.

Basically, I think as long as all components can be removed or have an optional install on first start up like tick boxes and all info available to anyone to see how it works, the EU should back off. I want Windwos 7 to be a pretty much all in one, great performing feature rich windows.

(kingroach said @ #6)
I dont understand how does EU calculates damages due the supposed damage by adding media player to windows..

What I don't understand is how opening up the Windows Server API's has anything to do with how the Media player was bundled with windows... that just never made sense to me... EU goes after MS for the media player then comes back and says OPEN UP YOUR WINDOWS API's! the two are disconnected completely... Heck even in the US with the IE anti-trust stuff it never got this crazy over money...

(neufuse said @ #6.1)
Heck even in the US with the IE anti-trust stuff it never got this crazy over money...

And they laughed at the DoJ.

Microsoft will only move if it's cheaper than staying still.

The US of A is bankrupt, :confused: the Dollar is about to go down the tubes, the US is fighting a multi trillion Dollar war they can't afford, 8) and you are worried about Microsoft being fined. 40% of Microsoft sales are to Europe (at inflated prices) , just think of it as one of those old fashioned kick-backs. :nuts: They sell the software in Eirope, they have to follow European laws, they go to court in Europe :P - Get over it bud!

(boho said @ #5.1)
The US of A is bankrupt, :confused: the Dollar is about to go down the tubes, the US is fighting a multi trillion Dollar war they can't afford, 8) and you are worried about Microsoft being fined. 40% of Microsoft sales are to Europe (at inflated prices) , just think of it as one of those old fashioned kick-backs. :nuts: They sell the software in Eirope, they have to follow European laws, they go to court in Europe :P - Get over it bud!
If only the US was rich enough to afford as many emoticons as you!

the EU are just a bunch of socialists... equality for all companies >.> if that was the case... there would be no competition... and no competition means no innovation

(Brodel said @ #4.1)
monopoly also means no innovation.


Just curious...

Are you suggesting that Windows Media Player is a monopoly? Or that somehow having it as a Windows component since Windows 3.1 has prevented people from adopting alternatives like iTunes, Winamp, etc?

Or are you suggesting that Windows Server has a monopoly, and nobody uses Linux / Unix servers anymore?

The EU is retarded, simple. They need to leave free market alone, and only mess with it when its either going to fail, or has failed.

Nuff Said.

Feller, look up "Federal Reserve System" in Wikipedia (first paragraph), then Google "Federal Reserve System Ron Paul" :confused: Watch a few of the videos if you are intellectually challenged. You could also read up about the US budget deficit . Then come back here and tell us about Free Enterprise, and how the US makes it work :redface: (tip you - USA are bankrupt). Amero / NAFTA highway, here we come! Wake up bud! :nuts:

Why do people think free market means companies can do whatever the hell they want?

Imagine how bad CPUs would be if Intel had no significant competitors. I'd probably be writing this on a 500 Mhz Pentium 2. That is what the situation IS like with Microsoft!

Yes, most of their products are fine (as in they generally work as stated), but they would be much better and a lot cheaper if they actually had a genuine competitor.

(Chicane-UK said @ #2)
Oh great - here comes the 'Microsoft should just not trade in the EU' and 'The EU needs Microsofts money' comments..

Sigh.

Microsoft should just not trade in the EU.

:P

(kezzzs said @ #2.2)
The EU needs Microsoft's money!! :P

I don't get it where you guys get those... Firstly, the EU budget is in excess of 120 billion euros. Secondly, the EU budget isn't meant for many things, things are mainly financed from national budgets, so it doesn't really need more money.

(Nathanael said @ #2.5)

I don't get it where you guys get those... Firstly, the EU budget is in excess of 120 billion euros. Secondly, the EU budget isn't meant for many things, things are mainly financed from national budgets, so it doesn't really need more money.


It was a joke from the originators comment! I totally agree with you.

Ok, now it comes out. EU needs Microsoft's money. How exactly do these relatively small damages to Microsoft, protect competition? Oh, but they do fund the small EU coffers pretty well.

What MS has to go through as the market leader is pretty crazy, these days. Can't they include a bloody media player in their OS? Even Ubuntu ships with a media player.

And they've been more open in APIs and standards than their major OS competitor.

"And they've been more open in APIs and standards than their major OS competitor."

which competitor exactly?

apple? Linux?

(Thrawn said @ #1)
... Can't they include a bloody media player in their OS?
You are comparing two very dissimilar situations. Ubuntu comes with a few of them. None of them are owned or controlled by Ubuntu to promote Ubuntu-specific protocols. Each and every single one of them are completely removable (no trace) and replaced by the user with a simple click-to-add selection in the synaptic package manager.

Now, how, exactly do you even think that these two implementations of including media playing capabilities are similar?


(Thrawn said @ #1)
And they've been more open in APIs and standards than their major OS competitor.
Maybe more than Apple. I like their product, but dislike their lock-in and secrecy.
But compared to Linux/BSD? Not even close to being open and transparent.

(markjensen said @ #1.2)
You are comparing two very dissimilar situations. Ubuntu comes with a few of them. None of them are owned or controlled by Ubuntu to promote Ubuntu-specific protocols. Each and every single one of them are completely removable (no trace) and replaced by the user with a simple click-to-add selection in the synaptic package manager.

Now, how, exactly do you even think that these two implementations of including media playing capabilities are similar?

Well Mark, WMP is completely removable as well in Windows, so that is a non issue and similar to the "free" and open Ubuntu.

Your accusation that WMP is used by MS to promote Windows-specific protocols is more of an accusation of opinion, if I may say so. WMP has some Windows-only protocols, but so do Linux systems (ogg). And, as much as Ogg can be played on Windows, WM streams can be played on Linux. Actually, I don't think you're referring to that right? You're referring to DRM. Well, DRM sucks, and consumers have a choice in avoiding it. I myself have never made a DRM purchase. I don't think that you're fair to count it against MS for simply supporting DRM in their OS, even though DRM necessarily leads to a closed implementation.

(markjensen said @ #1.2)
Maybe more than Apple. I like their product, but dislike their lock-in and secrecy.
But compared to Linux/BSD? Not even close to being open and transparent.

True, but Linux/BSD cost more in terms of both developer and consumer effort. Why do we want systems to be open/transparent? To make the lives of developers easier. I think open-source advocates lose sight of this. For developers, what in Linux can be as productive and powerful as Visual Studio?

(bobbba said @ #1)
"And they've been more open in APIs and standards than their major OS competitor."

which competitor exactly?

apple? Linux?

XP!

Thrawn,

WMP includes support for formats covered by Microsoft patents, therefore cannot legally used in Linux. Then your bit of misdirection, trying to call ogg "linux specific" is laughable. It is an open format for all. Yes, I know this concept is foreign to anyone firmly indoctrinated in Microsoft goodness. But the difference is a one-way street compared to a two-way. OggVorbis is free for all.

Yes, I agree with you that DRM sucks. Microsoft has tried two different DRM schemes, and has finally come out and said that they aren't all that fired up about DRM. Apple and Microsoft both push DRM products, yet speak against it.

And development costs more expensive for Linux/BSD? According to some "Get the Facts" studies yes. And according to other studies no. I guess it is too inconvenient for you to look at a balanced picture to admit that there are cases where BSD/Linux can be a cost advantage. Instead you like to regurgitate the Microsoft party line, and make a broad statement to apply to every circumstance for all time.

I might as well try to have a reasoned discussion on this with Steve Ballmer.

(markjensen said @ #1.5)
I might as well try to have a reasoned discussion on this with Steve Ballmer.

x) Indeed, indeed. I've been very satisfied with developing scientific applications in C#, and I have never wished I could have the source for Windows or the Visual studio classes, etc. It's fast and it does the job. I'm sure having the source helps in some situations.

(Thrawn said @ #1.6)
x) Indeed, indeed. I've been very satisfied with developing scientific applications in C#, and I have never wished I could have the source for Windows or the Visual studio classes, etc. It's fast and it does the job. I'm sure having the source helps in some situations.
And, on the flip side of the coin, I use Linux, but have no desire to dowload and look at the source, much less if I had to actually compile it myself.

I'm happy just being a user.