Microsoft today lost the majority of its appeal against the European Commission anti-trust decision. Microsoft will have to open up access to its server protocols, continue selling a version of its Windows operating system without Media Player, and pay a fine of at least €497m. But Microsoft did have the imposition of …
EC may have "won", but its the WRONG battle
Very few people care that windows gets freebies thrown in with it. We don't have to use Internet Explorer just because it's there. We can use firefox instead. Or any other browser, free or otherwise. We do have that choice, whether or not microsoft wants it.
What we don't have a choice of, in the EU at least, is being able to buy windows at a sensible price.
The questions that EU should be dealing with are:
A) WHY IS IT MORE EXPENSIVE IN EU THAN IN USA ??? If Microsoft can supply windows to developing countries for less than the normal cost in the USA. then
b) Why are the upgrades so expensive? If I already have a licence, I've already paid for MOST of what I'm getting with the upgrade, and with the size of the windows market there's no reason why an upgrade should cost more than 10% (or 20% absolute tops) of the original purchase price.
c) Why isn't there a guaranteed 10 year support cycle? People do NOT want to be forced into Vista just because it suits microsoft (or, more correctly, because it allows microsoft to print money). Indeed, every manufacturer should be obliged to grant existing users a completely FREE upgrade if it withdraws support for an older product.
d) Why is there such a difference between the cost of OEM copies and retail copies? OK, the box costs money -- so, provide a retail download service. Or, insist that the "box sellers" can buy vanilla CDs in bulk at the same price as the manufacturers, and resell them at whatever price they consider is correct.
Those are (some of) the more important issues -- which both USA and EU regulators should be tackling. Not whether or not we get free gifts along with the product, which is only a diversion from the real problems.
"Hand over intellectual property" what the hell???? How is this even possible, fuck those bureaucratic Brussels dicks! If I was Microsoft I’d just leave the EU and leave us to rot in a swampy Linux hell, we deserve it for electing governments that allow this to happen, it's nothing short or dictatorship, I've never heard anything so absurd...
Maybe there'll enforce the same requirements on apple and we can finally find out what colour yogurt pot is attached to the string.
why Microsoft ?
Are they doing this to Apple also ?
Personally i think this is very very very wrong.
I don't understand why Microsoft shouldn't be allowed to bundle they own programs with their own operating system.
A decision like this can only be bad for the consumer.
I've listened to the argument that it gives the choice to the end user, but the average user doesn't want that choice.....doesn't NEED that choice.
I dearly hope that all bundles packages are now subjected to the same treatment.
some people need a brain cell to go with their life
Those are good points, but it is not just MS that rips off EU customers, the last time I did a check of Apple prices, in certain instances the Euro price was even more then the UK price.
As to spitefulGOD, get a life. The only dictorship round here is the whitehouse. MS are not being forced to give over IP as such, but are being told that they cant keep a set of API secret that allows their products to talk to each other "properly" but not let others. The API should have been public from the start, hows that for a dicatorship, and I for one would be very happy if MS pulled out of the EU. The UK has a history or building very good computers that get crushed by the "big boy" scared of computers that work as they should. Acron and Psion anybody, two companies that should have been winning govement contracts, over the PC hell.
Of course Microsoft is going to abandon the lucrative EU market because they lost the court case. Competition in the IT market is a good thing - look at the progress that MS has made since Apple started taking some of the desktop market.
The reason the OEM products are so much cheaper is because the onus is on the installer to provide the support and you have no direct support contract with MS. It is the OEM provider who has to have the support contract and you are supposed to raise issues with them.
While I appreciate the sentiment, I'd love to see the conversation you would have with Tesco/Asda/Aldi et al trying to gain support for virus issues or activation woes..
Because its anti-competitive, this kicks in when you already have too big a slice of the pie.
Nothing has changed in law, no one has ganged up on M$, the EU has just enforced what M$ should have been doing anyway.
That "intellectual property" is just the server protocols, which any reasonable developer would have made available as a matter of course.
Interoperability is vital for the computer industry, come on people, this is not rocket science. Whats the quote ...
"In IT there are no stupid questions, but we sure have got a lot of dumb users"
M$ is as likely to pull out of the EU as I am running for President. Not that I couldn't do a better job than the arsehole incumbent. That the DoJ trust issue was a complete whitewash in the US, doesn't mean the EU's systems are as faulty. If the US had returned a proper judgement M$ would have changed its behaviour and the EU case would not have been necessary.
The fine they have to pay might seem steep, but keep in mind that Microsoft has earned a number much, much higher than that, by breaking the anti-trust laws.
497 million euro is peanuts to pay, if you've robbed consumers of 497 billion*.
* I don't know the actual number, but I don't see chair tossing Ballmer having trouble paying his bills.
I firmly believe...
... the comments by "SpitefulGOD" to be what I call "spoof rants." Having written my share of them on the comment pages of El Reg I know the phenomenon exists... Good work though, point well made!
Re: Why Microsoft?
Because it has a monopoly!
People always complain that MS is being singled out over Apple et al, but the difference is that MS has a monopoly (~95% market share) and Apple et al do not. This fact alone means that MS has to be extremely careful not to abuse its position by giving away freebies, for example.
Funny thing with EU law is AFAIK it uses teleological interpretation to interpret past cases rather than the stricter more literal principles used elsewhere. Means they look at the reasoning and intent behind the ruling not just how it affects OS distribution/bundling.
So if a case is raised on other matters of technological monopoly they can use this as a big stick to hit other people with, as opposed to elsewhere where it may not be proved relevant. This ruling is far more wide reaching than a similar one in UK or US law would be.
API's for all?
WTF @ previous posters
So you don't understand why Microsoft is being punished for this?
I take it you'd be quite happy for Ford to put washing machine companies out of business by bundling a cheap crappy one with every new car then? Because that's what MS have been doing.
They pushed the better web browser out of the market by bundling a crappy one free with windows. They pushed into the server market by leveraging their desktop monopoly, and they muscled into the media player market by doing more of the same.
The EU don't do stuff like this lightly.
@Ned Fowden / why Microsoft?
You have missed the point by so many miles it's almost amusing...
It's not that there are bundled applications with the "Operating System", that's the issue, it's that Microsoft are using their monopoly to ensure that only their technology, i.e., their particular versions of these bundled applications are used in most cases.
How does this work? Because Joe User loads up Windows and, for example, is confronted with one Web Browser (the most insecure one in existence), one Media Player (probably the most inefficient and bloated one there is). Both of these poor quality applications use custom, closed protocols and before the Joe User knows it, half of their websites, files and media are in a closed standard that only Microsoft or their licensees can access. In short, the user has been forced down one path and is left later footing the bill in one way or another.
Now, if when windows started up there were a variety of applications available and the user could pick the one they wanted to use, this would be a much better solution. For example - a user being given a choice of Web Browser, Media Player or whatever, will be able to make their own mistakes, however they *should* also remember that there are alternatives available and that they can switch if necessary. If these applications also used Internationally agreed standards, then this process of switching between applications becomes much easier and we get to a state where COMPETITION on QUALITY and FEATURES will become the norm, rather than a monopoly based on locked in, closed non-interoperable file formats.
Now for the, oh so obligatory, analogy involving the car industry... It's like a large car manufacturer, for example Ford, deciding to fit triangular holes for their petrol (gas for US) tanks and having their Engine Management Unit test for the presence of a custom chemical combination in the petrol. This custom chemical combination is, of course, a secret and attempting the figure out what it is involves declaring that you are unpatriotric (because Ford is an American car company) and also breaking a wide sweeping law regarding petrol additives that Ford lobbied very hard to have implemented. Instead you're forced to buy petrol at double the price of everyone else and only from specific "Ford Approved" petrol stations. Oh, and the miles per gallon performance of your petrol is also less than normal cars. Needless to say, the average car driver will not be told that there are alternative petrol systems available and instead lied to by the car dealers about it being "better" (in some intransient way) than the unpatriotic, communist alternatives.
Yep, I think that analogy is about right. I'll get my coat now.
American IP BS
"The court has upheld a requirement to hand over intellectual property. "
To quote the El Reg story on the verdict:
"It [The Court] found Microsoft failed to show that these APIs were intellectual property or that giving them away would have a negative impact on its ability to innovate."
"The Court found that Microsoft had indeed failed to supply competitors with sufficient information to allow servers to interoperate effectively."
But now I just wonder - what does that imply about not giving users sufficient information to operate a system??? ;-)
(Obviously, MS supply plenty of information - but "you can lead a horse to water...")
Hypocrisy and cant.
I do hope all this righteous indignation about Microsoft's business tactics is reflected in your own good practices in other business arenas?
How many of you do most of your weekly shopping at Tescos, Asda, Waitrose, Sainsburys, Morrisons, or wherever?
And how many of you make a point of buying all your groceries only from small independent traders?
I thought so. Only indignant where it suits you to be so, usually where you think it's the done thing to be indignant.
Hypocrites, most of you.
Freebieless - OS
I agree with the point of the EU ruling, but it's application is pointless. Why would someone pay more for a less? for example ebuyer (in the uk) are selling Vista Business Update for £152.74 and Vista Business N Update for £151.54. it's only 1.20 difference but why would I pay more??? Microsoft should be made to have an OS only version (no IE, MediaPlayer, Windows Calendar, Windows Mail, Windows Contact, etc.) at a significatly lower price. Although they should allow you to add these functions on via download (and to be fair, they should be allowed to charge for these downloads). Additionally if the only difference between retail and OEM (other than the packaging costs) is support contracts then release a retail version minus the support contract! I've only ever called Microsoft once and that was because an OEM version of XP Home wouldn't activate.
MS Fanboys (PR department)
The Microsoft PR department seems to be swamping the BBC News feedback page with ludicrous fanboy comments
But I'm glad to see we only attract the genuine nutters here.
Re: WTF @ previous posters
I'm actually quite fascinated by the fact that it seems a majority of the laymen who have an opinion on this are sympathetic to MS. One commenter likened it to Stockholm syndrome and indeed that sounds to me like a brilliant analogy. Maybe it's just human to form an emotional bond with whatever it is that you have around you?
Re: WRONG battle
Amen! WTF is up with these court actions? WMP? Who cares. Now the OOXML debate, that is huge. I don't exactly know which "server protocols" they are talking about, but that part sounds more important. What governments really need to be doing is enforcing compatibility and open standards. These lead to true competition, which in turn will drive prices down.
Re: Stockholm syndrome
Good one! Although I take my chances and say that a good number of negative comments are coming from Americans who see the EU as a competitor that treats American companies unfair, and Brits who see any regulation or decision by the EU as threat to the freedom of the British Empire.
Re: Hypocrisy and cant
"How many of you do most of your weekly shopping at Tescos, Asda, Waitrose, Sainsburys, Morrisons, or wherever?"
How does that compare to Microsoft's monopoly? I could ask in response, "How many of you buy your OSes from Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft, or wherever? How many of you make a point of buying your systems from Apple, Sun, Linux? I thought so." Just because a chainstore is a big multinational doesn't make it a monopoly - these stores are all in COMPETITION with each other.
People are rightly indignant about ONE company controlling all of our data, and using its monopolistic practices to ensure its crapware gets majority market share. As a web developer myself, I am sick of having to double-code and/or compromise design on all our websites to cater to both internationally agreed standards AND Microsoft's enforced proprietary ones. The more cases like this that put Microsoft back in its box and force it to comply with standards, the better.
There's a difference, Vulpes Vulpes, between hypocrisy and defending free choice.
Oh for Chuff Sake
While you are all banging on about the suit, one wonders whether you should either:
a. Use another OS
b. Apply some "credit" to your over used broadband connection and download something else instead of IE / WMP or whatever.
Back with the car analogy if you buy a basic "Ford" and is comes with a basic radio, there is nothing to stop you removing it and putting something else in. Likewise its wheels or whatever. Folks EXPECT to get wheels and a radio, they can optionally have flasher / better / more secure ones and MS don't prevent you doing this....
Oh and one more thing while I'm at it...
If MS didn't include IE with Windows unless you are going to get back into PC magazine cover disk syndrome, exactly what is Joe Punter going to download Firefox or whatever. From a tech angle, I know we can crank up a DOS prompt and FTP something down, but for the other 95% of the population......
And my closing two penneth, having sold to these folks for many years, it still amazes me the number of customers that assume MS Office is part of WIndows and not a 1/2/300 quid additional piece of software.
(Monopoly) M$ are by far not alone
Money gets you everywhere, when you can buy the most expensive lawyers.
I remember some time ago finding an extra £2 on my Sky bill.
When questioned this we were told if was for the fantastic Sky Magazine.
You then say "I don't want it" and ask them to neither send it or bill you this publication that is so good that I might as well build a garbage chute from the letterbox to the bin.
Only to be told that is MANDATORY.
And as usual, the big guy gets away with it.
M$ are by far not alone
Why Microsoft? Why it matters.....
For a good example of why it matters, look at the recent BBC scandal.
The BBC decided to do Internet broadcasting using Windows Media Player as a platform.
No doubt the Microsoft reps went round to the BBC, paid for lunch, and explained how the BBC could reach 90-odd percent of PC users with their technologies. That their technology is super, etc,. etc.
End result: If you want to watch the BBC you have to use Windows.
This only affects a few percent of the population but Microsoft only needs to pull a few stunts like this and pretty soon they have every member of the population under their control.
Media player has a few more tricks up its sleeve, too. You know how it offers to copy CDs to your hard disk when you insert them? It does it in a patented format which only Microsoft can use. If you ever want to buy a Mac or use Linux you have to give up your music collection.
If Media player was simply a "player of media files" then fine, Include it with Windows. Doesn't bother me.
It's not though, it's a means to an end - and that end is to reinforce Microsoft's monopoly.
It's the same thing with Internet Explorer and all the other "freebies" Microsoft bundles with their OS.
OOXML too - a cynical attempt to make Office files an ISO standard so that Governments will be locked into buying Microsoft software forever.
re Stockholm syndrome
@ Juhani Vehvilainen. "Maybe it's just human to form an emotional bond with whatever it is that you have around you?" No, this seems a natural characteristic of human self-identity, For example, what would you think if you woke up in a strange place with no memory of having got there? Or as Kafka's giant beetle.
Stockholm syndrome requires an element of abuse and coercion. Of course, M$ fulfils that requirement in regard to its customers, so the observation seems correct.
IP (Intellectual Property)
Microsoft have no right and should be prevented at charging royalties for it's IP in the server API's unless it can be fully proven that they themselves have built that API themselves from their own ideas. If the protocol is based on someone elses idea or an open standard then it must be placed under a non-discriminatory OPEN license for all to implement, including those who use the GPL.
So much of the communication protocols between servers are open standards and have been around for years. All or most of Microsofts protocols are just bastardized versions of these. For an example look at either the SMB/CIFS protocol or their attempt to bastardize the Kerberos authentication protocol. Each bastardization of the protocol is an attempt to thwarte competition and lock users into their monopoly. Again, SMB/CIFS in Vista has been deliberately broken to not work with Samba thereby frustrating Samba users.
The order to open up of their protocols has been documented since the 2004 verdict and yet still people do not get it. They either scream that Microsoft are being picked on because they are an American company or are Microsoft and are being forced to give away their valuable IP or code! Well, show me that their IP is not based off an open standard and I will agree that they deserve royalties! If you cannot do this then it is best you keep quiet.
For those who do not understand the bundling parts, some of it is because it is bundled and some is because you cannot get rid of it. If I choose to use Firefox then that is my right but if I choose to uninstall Internet Explorer then it should uninstall, not just delete the shortcuts to it! AFAIK if I choose to use Firefox on the Mac I can completely remove Safari, and on Linux I can remove Konqueror.
Basically, if you feel you must protest about the EC decision then just ask yourself a question. Why is it that Microsoft just cannot implement current standards but instead feel the need to reimplement those standards in such a way that they block out competitors?
RE: EC may have "won", but its the WRONG battle
I agree to the points mentioned however I would add
1. Investigate the stongarm tactics that MS has used as common buisness practice for decades.
2. Investigate the "Windows Tax"
Why oh why is it SO hard to buy a PC without Windows bundled ?
3. Investigate the "Windows Tax"
Why is it when Dell sell a machine with Linux bundled, it costs $20 more ?
Can you really tell me this doesn't stink of corruption ?
I can just hear the line now, "Yeah ok ship Linux (because you have to) but a. Make it difficult and b. Make it an unattractive deal
I repeat the whole thing stinks.
I'm no great friend of Microsoft, but when the EU says it hopes Microsoft's market share will decrease as a result of this, whose does it hope will increase?
Apple's? Even more closed, even more expensive...
Linux? 57 varieties and unusable unless you're a major geek?
What exactly are they hoping will happen?
Hilarious comments by some - 1 for effort and zero for nowse.
Sun were so right to instigate this action with the EU - if you have ever had to integrate a non MS server product/protocol with their systems, you would be screaming or jumping off a bridge in no time. It can be done but needs many workarounds, specialist knowledge, kludges and time and great expense. Guess who pays?...all you dummies defending MS thats who.
And guess what? your whole work to get things running can be broken and frequently is, by Ms at any time they choose. They then expect payment to get you out of the mess that they deliberately created in the first place.
Get real - this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to MS' lock-in/lock-out policies.
Don't people care how their cash is being stolen? seems not where MS apologists are concerned - sheesh
Easy Way Out
I'm sure there could have been an easy way out of this for Microsoft and everyone else.
Microsoft could have offered a discounted version of standard Windoze including all the wotsits, or a full price "customised" version with the wotsits removed. Then it would have been a matter of choice for the end user.
your missing the bigger picture
because the point here is that the Microsofts of this world and basically greedy bullies.
It plainly obvious that MS have a monopoly, and monopolies are universally bad things , as we have witnessed multiple times in the past, in multiple countries, and anything that helps break the power of a monopoly is good.
I spent a large part of my career rolling out PC's to schools, which is a good thing, and in the nations (and humanity's) interest. MS make so much money, they could have given Office away free to school,s the cost to them would have been a drop in the ocean, but we were still forced to pay for every PC we put it on. And even then, the price in the US was converted directly to sterling, effectively upping the price by 80 per cent. As usual, we the englsi g get butt fucked for software by the americans.
In this very website theres a report that the iPhone will cost 35% more in the UK, because..... well because its standard practice to screw the Europeans.
Personally, I have never, and never will pay for a single piece of software from any american company, ever, purely as retaliation for decades of these rip off bully boy american software company tactics.
Microsoft tries to control protocols and apis
Microsoft loosing this case is good for the IT industry.
Microsoft tries to control protocols and stifle innovation. First hand example: The RDP protocol. If you want to access a Windows system, you can do so using RDP. But RDP is closed. Developers must reverse engineer the protocol plus risk lawsuits by microsoft. Needless to say its a lot harder without a description of the protocol.
Example 2: Microsoft launches Office Communication Server, which supposedly supports the SIP standard. Yeah right. It does, but only using a proprietary protocol of Microsoft. Which, surprise surprise, must be licensed from Microsoft. And the office communicator client? Supports SIP. BUT - only registers with Microsoft OCS. Wont work with any other SIP server. So using its Office monopoly its trying to dominate telephony too.
Theres plenty more examples but these are 2 i was involved in recently and i think paint a pretty clear picture what Microsoft is up to.
What it means is that the EU has a backbone unlike the US FTC which blows with who is in power (Bush's slap on the wrist).
Other companies such as Apple are proprietary and arrogant, SUN can be too, as with any other large multi-national, but in general they are not rapacious like MS.
Remember they are a convicted monopolist, and having worked with them and against them, individually MS employees are fine people, as a company you'd want to watch your back, and no matter what the contract said, they would find some peculiar interpretation which would allow them to do whatever they wanted, ask Sendo or Stac, which shows they didn't change much in their practices over a long period of time.
Look it's easy...
McDonalds makes money from good real estate.
Microsoft makes money from good lawyers.
GNU/Linux is an attempt to make good software rather than good money.
Artists make art rather than money. If they make something that is judged as good, then the market kicks in and they make money.
What I don't understand is where a GNU/Linux programer gets food from. So I see no alternative than using the moral right of governments to slap down an abusive company, as I don't understand how the market will ever give something like GNU/Linux the power to do it for itself.
Yay... Ms got slapped down for a change.
Apple's? Even more closed, even more expensive...
Linux? 57 varieties and unusable unless you're a major geek?
You have to ask why this is, Linux can't get a look in because windows is the only one sold with Pc's. Some big manufacturers need to come on board to help get Linux mainstream. But they don't because Ms PR boys have done such a good job and because Linux doesnt' have PR boys.
Apple has the same problem for similar reasons.
This enables with Law to allow those other smaller companies to get a chance at the playing field, so we can have different OS's and then perhaps Linux will get a main stream variant. (I am refraining from wanting Apple as mainstream.)
The supermarkets isn't a good enough analagy as there are 4 mainstream and a few also rans, the 4 main players fight eachother with only farmers being the losing side.
There is no other mainstream beyond MS. Hence the need for someone to step up and give them what for. Sad fact this is the EU and not the US when they did it. That alone speaks volumes to me.
I do think the costs should be investigated next, that is the stupid situation now. Never mind subs-tandard releases that always require fixes for supposed great new software.
Some people have short memories
Windows isn't on 95% of desktops because Microsoft forced it there, it's on 95% of desktops because the market likes standards because they drive prices down.
Anyone remember the computer market in the 80s? Lots of "choice", lots of incompatibilities, lot's of unneccessary expense.
Why did most companies big enough to have an IT budget get rid of their Macs and standardize on Windows? Because 1 standard is cheaper than 2.
And lastly, how did the internet become something that "ordinary people" came to take for granted? Because Microsoft built WinSock support into Win95, and bundled Internet Explorer. All those companies that sold WinSock stacks for Win3x were screwed, but the Web would never have gone mainstream if Microsoft had been prevented from building Winsock support into the Operating System.
Down with M$
Linux needs some big manufacturers...you haven't heard? M$ has tried to stop Linux (here in the US, at least) by waving patent violations at it - well over 200 at last count. Of course, they've now got IBM glaring at them from the other side of the fence, since IBM is now supporting open source software, so I don't know how far that's going to go, and IBM is still sore over PS/2, and like an elephant, has a long memory... but to the EU I say: I wish you were here. We could use courts and laws with balls and teeth, not judges that pander to big corporations and politicians.
I use XP and Office, but because I have to for school... right now I'm investigating various Linux flavors (sounds like ice cream, doesn't it? yum!) to see which one I like via virtual machine... and while I may be forced to use XP/Office, it DOESN'T mean I have to use IE, WMP, and the other bundled goodies M$ forces down consumers throats. And if you ever want a laugh... imagine the conversation between the befuddled consumer whose laptop is being sent back in for repair, who is moaning and groaning about Windows Vista; the retailer help desk technician (me) on line 1 extolling the virtues of FireFox, and the OEM agent on the line 2 singing the praises of Opera...
Utter socialist garbage!!!
"She said for multinational companies dealing with many different jurisdictions a situation could develop where rather than operate under many different sets of rules, companies instead choose the most rigorous set of rules in order that they are in fact compliant with everyone's regulations."
By extension to this UTTERLY flawed argument, the Internet should be subject to oppressive restrictions on freedom of speech because the content is available in places like China and the Middle East? WRONG!
ENOUGH of this rule by the lowest common denominator. ENOUGH of this socialist "We know what's better for you than you do" crap!
When you choose to PURCHASE a product or VISIT a web site or any of the myriad choices you make as an adult human being, you must accept at least most of the accountability for that choice. If you don't like Windows Media Player or Microsoft Windows then step AWAY from the checkout counter, moron. Nobody forces ANYONE to buy anything.
Monopoly? Who makes them a monopoly? The IDIOTS who buy their products. The same idiots who cheer when a court hands down an obvious verdict and fines Microsoft hundreds of millions of euros. Why are you cheering fools? YOU are the ones who paid this fine, You paid it months or years ago when you purchased the same software you are now bemoaning. And guess what? It had Media Player and IE in it then and it will have it in there tomorrow and forever because it's the law of consumption which drives companies like Microsoft to act, not misguided and impotent court actions.
Why misguided? Because this anti-competitive crap was valid in the 90's but NOW users have a choice to replace any Microsoft product with a cheaper (or free) and probably better product that does not hinder them or impede them in any way.
Why impotent? Because Microsoft would have probably paid more to settle this case in the first place and now this establishes a precedent whereby the European courts can bash Microsoft's competitors who are now much stronger in the Server space than they are. Microsoft must have soiled itself laughing.
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