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back to article Microsoft: no plan to appeal EC verdict for now

Microsoft has yet to decide whether to appeal the verdict of the Court of First Instance, according to the company's general counsel Brad Smith. Speaking in Brussels, Smith said: "We've not made that determination on whether to appeal. We've barely read the decision once. You would need to read this decision a few times before …

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Bronze badge

Petty Cash

So they pay the fine out of petty cash and start obfuscating their "interoperability" again, as they did with OOXML.

Microsoft keeps getting slapped, but not hard enough darnit!

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Reg

'Justice delayed, is justice denied' said William Gladstone

Big companies delaying tactic mean they WIN even when they loose the legal case.

Why has this case taken so long? nine years?

is european justice too slow?

is Microsoft too powerful?

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I don't know

€780 million is a fair chunk of money. Since Microsoft do now pay a dividend, just how much of a cash mountain do they have? I remember that is was around $40 billion a few years ago, but that was before the dividend.

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Does anybody really think they won't?

These people will appeal to the bitter end. Lawyers are cheap to them.

"€780 million is a fair chunk of money"

Not to Microsoft. For them it's three or four days income (and also tax deductible).

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Only petty cash, but nonetheless...

... it's always a pleasure to see predatory companies like Microsoft get their wrists slapped, however ineffective the slap turns out to be in the long term.

As to Brad Drone's comment "Our ties in Europe have never been as deep or as wide as they are now", all this means to me is that, despite open source and non-proprietary alternatives, most (western) European governments are locked in to Windows.

As an aside, I was rather surprised when trying to withdraw cash from a high street bank's ATM to be confronted with a familiar screen informing me that "Windows XP is shutting down."

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They must mean us!

So the EU is finally earning their keep.

Microsoft is abusing its monopoly power with its illegal shipping of their media player, and are now paying the price.

Those of you who were wondering what a European media player looks like, look no further than http://clesh.com/videos/ - implemented in Java, so no installation necessary.

Actually, the codec is designed for web-based editing over unpredictable internet connections, but as you'll all have ultra-fast broadband, you can watch it stream video too.

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Give the little guy a break

>`Smith likened the situation to a Woody Allen quote: "I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in 20 minutes. It involves Russia."`

oh come on! that's not funny.

it's ABOUT Russia.

the humour's in the detail.

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Anonymous Coward

But having to pay most of the other parties legal fees...

... must have hurt their pride

Microsoft was ordered to pay the costs of SIIA, FSFE, Audiobanner.com and ECIS, including those relating to the interim proceedings. So Microsoft pays FSF Europe 80% of their legal costs

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I still don't get it.

Where is the case ?

I prefer open source as much as the next geek, and don't like MS very much . . . but what has Microsoft actually done wrong ? I've read through (almost) all the 152 pages and it's a load of bollocks to me. Imagine Ford gains 90% of the car market ( yes, very unlikely ) and then is sued by Pioneer, because they sell cars with preinstalled radios. Imagine a tuning company sues them for not giving away their engine control software. While it is true that Pioneer might sell less stereos, and the tuner can't manufacture chips for Fords, and both of them might be put out of business, any lawyer would still laugh out loud and show them the door. Trade secrets are essential in any industry. Microsoft has a near monopoly position, but don't they have the right to be treated like anybody else ? Give them enough arbitrary "petty cash" fines, and they'll eventually go bankrupt. What would $SoftwareCompany do then ? Isn't It funny how everybody assumes MS has unexhaustible cash ? Depend on it long enough, and the platform for all your apps is gone.

If I'd want code from Microsoft, I'd ask them politely. They might want money - but that's what $SoftwareCompany likes to make with the code as well. I think that If you play the commercial software game, and your business depends on MS code, you should pay for it. Nobody is forced to develop for Windows, you can switch to *Nix any time, and get everything for free. You might have to change your business model from "selling" to "support" - but other companys have successfully done so.

( but then again - I may be dead wrong. Enlighten me if you know better )

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Negative

>> Microsoft has a near monopoly position, but don't they have the right to be treated like anybody else?

the sort answer is: No, and the reason is because a company that owns more than 25% of any market is dangerous to the industry and it's self. With Microsoft it's not just dangerous it's a disaster area where the industry has been kidnapped for so long elements of it even suffer Stockholm Syndrome where they try and protect Microsoft. It's really sad because what more does a company have to do to go on to a normal human beings immoral list? do we wait until they've got mass graves and death camps or just a few billion £ in lost productivity? but to be honest I get the feeling that "normal" people have a convenient way of ignoring morality when they want to.

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@Antoinette

If Microsoft made car stereos:

Let's start by assuming that Microsoft has somehow (legally or otherwise) achieved a monopoly in the car stereo business. Suppose Microsoft stereos are pre-loaded in 95% of cars.

Now imagine that Microsoft comes out with a new stereo that is basically the same as the last one, except that this one uses a secret new wiring interface for the speakers (it doesn't work with old speakers), and only plays CDs that conform to the new, secret Microsoft "enhanced" CD format. Microsoft is willing to license its new wiring interface and CD format to speaker manufacturers and record labels, but it's going to go ahead and include a *free* set of shitty speakers and stack of re-mastered Britney Spears CDs with each stereo, because they know shitty speakers and Britney Spears are "good enough" for most people. By the way, this new stereo costs twice as much as the previous version (but that has nothing to do with the freebies they're throwing in).

Then the next version comes out, which comes with a free Zune, which can sync up with the car stereo (and iPods won't work). This new in-dash unit costs twice again as much, but that has nothing to do with the included Zune.

The problem with the car stereo analogy is that it's Microsoft (the radio manufacturer) that's the 800-lb. bully -- not the car manufacturer. And the problem is not that Microsoft has a monopoly on desktop operating systems -- it's that they're illegally leveraging that monopoly to impose their inferior products in other markets, as they emerge (media players, web browsers, virus scanners, etc.).

This bundling strategy distorts the free market conditions that are the keystone of pretty much all western economies. An optimal free market would allow all actors to make all of their buying and selling decisions independently (e.g. buy the OS that has the best *value*, separately buy the web browser that has best *value*, etc.); this arrangement generally benefits the consumer by creating the best products (in each category) at the lowest price.

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Anonymous Coward

Antoinette's Car example

Actually its more like this:

Ford manufacture a car.

"Alloy Wheels R US" make blingy alloys for "boy racer" fords.

Ford change the specification of the wheel hub/bolts/nuts which means that the blingy alloys will no longer fit.

Ford Refuse to release the specs of the wheel hub.

Alloy Wheels reverse engineer the specs so their blingy wheels now work with the Ford.

Ford change the hub spec again because they are "innovating"

Its NOT about internal code, its NOT about software. Its about APIs and Protocols. If the APIs and Protocols are not documented then other people cannot interface efficiently with the software

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What Microsoft has done wrong...

What microsoft has done wrong is to use the leaverage of one monopoly to gain a second, third and fourth monopoly. That is illegal - even in the USA.

The big difference in Europe is that the legal powers allow measures to put in place procedures to stop it happening in the future. Something the USA doesnt allow for.

The down side is that Microsoft has successfully appealed the measure put in place to monitor its abuse of the market in the future.

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@ Antoinette Lacroix

The problem would not so much be the fact that car radio's would already be built-in in every car, but that the manufacturer would make sure that no other car radio would function properly in the car. THAT is the main problem. Microsoft will not ever cough up the necessary interoperability protocol information because it would mean that their vendor lock-in wouldn't work anymore, and that's their main business tactic. It is also true that 99% of people using computers haven't got a clue/don't care about this. When you walk into a computer shop and you see 25 screens working, all with Vista on it, and NO other choice, THAT is the problem. I am amazed every day that people can walk into that shop and see this as a normal situation. Baffling... the brainpower of spider-monkeys, just like Bill Gates said.

It's like going to the butcher's for meat and the butcher is saying: what would you like to eat today? We have everything as long as it is pork-chops you want. So, pork-chops it is then?

God people, wake up from time to time, look around and try to use some common sense!

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Silver badge

Re: I still don't get it.

"Where is the case ?"

The real point is about secret protocols and file formats. The EU, rightly, realises that competition is good for consumers. Because machines that run M$ s/ware are pervasive the protocols that they use have to be supported by anything trying to compete. M$ keeps those protocols secret, in fact it deliberately obscures them to make it difficult to reverse engineer. This makes it difficult for non M$ systems to interoperate 100% with M$ systems and thus compete fully.

Note that it is NOT the M$ code that is wanted, but the specifications to the file formats and protocols.

Note also that many of the non-M$ protocols in use are published standards and so anyone can implement them - and M$ rightly takes advantage of this; but then refuses to give to others what it has taken from others.

M$ is rather like the little boy in the play gound who accepts sweets from the other kids but refuses to open his own paper bag.

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Now that's news!

Is Microsoft really planning death camps?

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Title

>( but then again - I may be dead wrong. Enlighten me if you know better )

Gladly.

It's never been a right for any company t be treated this or that way out of any charter of Universal Rights of Companies.

Humans are the "things" that have rights from a moral point of view. Companies can and should be bankrupted, robbed, destroyed or whatever is felt necessary for people's good (except for the immoral consequences on the owners of the companies).

To put it in a more conventional way, companies exist to serve people, not the opposite. As a consequence, whatever measure is necessary against the companies to ensure the good of the people is fair and normal.

In general, leaving the companies do as they please is a way to achieve social efficiency, because they compete for better and cheaper products in the hope of making more money (and they have no "right" to keep that money, it's only a good thing to let them have it as an incenvtive to produce always cheaper and better goods). But the fact that it's true in general never made that a moral principle, just a rule of thumb.

It happens that economists have known for about two centuries that this rule of thumb does not apply to monopolies (actually even to a broader category of situations, but let's keep the focus on monopolies). As a consequence, it is morally justified, and even necessary, to ditch the general rule of laissez-faire in those cases.

Once again, Ford is not a human. It has no fundamental rights. The only rights it has is what the society decides it should have for the good of the people (as opposed to a human which is considered to have a fundamental right to freedom of religion, even if in some cases the society as a whole might feel better if he didn't). If Ford being able to actually kill Pioneer by denying it any sales was bad for the society, then it not only is acceptable to forbid it, but it is even a duty of the govenment to forbid it. and it happens that it WOUL be bad for the society, since Pioneer and Samsung compete to sell radios so that it keeps getting better and cheaper, whereas once Ford was master of the whole preinstalled radio market (or even of the full car-radio market, as it can make the car incompatible with any other) then it can charge as much as the customers are willing to pay for as crappy a radio as they're willing to endure. which obviously is not in the interest of the society, which makes people feel better if they have better and cheaper car-radios.

That is why you are wrong. You assume there is a moral duty to give the companies some rights, whereas on the opposite, the moral duty is on making sure the rules imposed on companies are done to maximise the good of the society (as in "the humans living in a society"). The Competition Authorities are part of the rules of the game, for the better.

By the way, if you look for an example where it is obvious, take IE versus Opera/Firefox/Mozilla. Imagine M$ was left alone to do as it pleases. It would clearly have prevented the alternate browsers from being workable on widows, in the same way it was proved it killed the first to emerge. Then you would still be stuck with IE having only one tab, no session, no plug-in, probably by now you could not configure the start page anymore, and so on. M$ would do as it pleases because of some mysterious right companies have, and every single windows user would be worse off. Hardly a moral stance, so moral stances like "companies should be allowed" should hardly be considered in that kind of context.

PS: I'm not criticizing the fact you reasonned like that, it is very commonplace among non-economists to mistake the general rule of letting companies live for something that is natural when in fact it is an unnatural and careful pondered choice capitalist societies make in most situations to ensure public good.

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Anonymous Coward

@Sceptical Bastard

> Is Microsoft really planning death camps?

It'd never work. It requires good security.

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