back to article Microsoft ruling may not bolster Europe's new case, warns lawyer

A landmark court ruling which last year backed the European Commission's last competition action against Microsoft may not be as helpful in its current action as has been widely thought, according to a competition lawyer. The commission's 2004 decision to fine Microsoft €497m was backed by the Court of the First Instance of the …

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The Commission doesn't have a clue

The Microsoft cases are the same kind of stupid power play as the break-up of Bell Telephone in the past. Ms Kroes does not have a clue as to what she is doing. She only listens to the whining of piddling little dot-com's.

I am quite sure I do not want Real Player or any other on my system, including Quicktime. I also do not want any other browser than IE7, thank you very much. Windows Vista with IE7 works fine for me on my main PC, even without virus scanner.

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@Albert Steinstra

"Windows Vista with IE7 works fine for me on my main PC, even without virus scanner."

LOL. You're an idiot...

It might look like its working fine, but in the background there lurks malware. IE7 isn't secure, didn't you know.

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Anonymous Coward

Standards are more important than products

Work the standards track instead. Secure a level playing field and true competition by enforcing free and open standards.

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Why won't they go after Apple

Oh god - this is my first post on the register, but after a full weekend of effing around with my ipod and i(god damn)tunes i felt i had to say something. Why o why does the EU commission always go after MS - now I don't think their perfect but i've never had any problems with their media player. Unlike god darn Apple who force me to use their rubbishy iTunes to sync my iPod, obv. using Vista does not help but still seriously I hate it soooo much - why doesn't anyone go after them I hate them been so god damn preechy about MS when they are just as bad. I'm sure there will be many people who think i'm talking rubbish but Apple really does need taking down a notch!

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@paul

I think you need to learn exactly what antitrust is about. Apple forcing you to use iTunes to update iPod is not leveraging a monopoly in one market into another market. If you were forced to use a Mac in order to put songs on your iPod, then that would be leveraging a monopoly in one market into another. This is the typical complaint made about Microsoft. Until Apple act in such a way then the only way you, as a consumer, can "take Apple down a notch" is by not buying their products and convincing your friends & family to do the same.

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Deja vu again

Can someone tell Opera they already had the browser wars and Netscape lost. While you are there, can you ask them how Opera is to be downloaded without a browser in the first place?

There are enough people about who know enough to download mp3, commercial software packages, porn, in fact, all manner of software. Firefox manage to get their browser onto all kinds of machines, including mine, and Firefox doesn't come with Windows.

So much as I am not a Microsoft Fanboi, I think I am with them on this one, I really cannot see any case to answer because you need a browser to get started anyway.

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@ Paul

I'm sure they will start going after Apple once the company has obtained a 97% market share of something as ubiquitous as PC operating systems and then demonstrates a pattern of using that position as a lever to obtain a similar position in other markets. We're a few years from that so don't hold your breath. (Of course as long as people think like they do ("some other company is really almost/just as bad as Microsoft when you think about it, might just buy Microsoft then") we'll never see that day.)

In the mean time you can always buy any of the dozens of non-Apple MP3 players if you don't like your iPod, they're cheaper and at least every Register reader will tell you that they're better as well. Plus you'll know you're paying your share of Microsoft's legal fees/broken chairs/charity (Windows Media royalties) which may give you a warm, fuzzy feeling.

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@Albert Stienstra

go back to sleep sir, this topic is obviously WAY over your head.

@paul

i agree with you about that horrible itunes thingy, which is one of the reasons i chose not to use it. although i have little problems with Microsoft software, it's quite clear to me people don't really have that choice when it comes to picking an OS.

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@Steve Browne

Part of Opera's complaint is that Microsoft is leveraging a monopoly product to foist a non-standards compliant browser on the market - their suggested remedies are to either include competing browsers in Windows or to force Microsoft to follow standards. If Microsoft follow standards, that means that all websites designed by lazy web designers who only test on Internet Explorer will work on Opera as well as they do on Internet Explorer. In other words, Opera won't have to downgrade their product in order for their customers to use the web.

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I see this as normal.

The problem is that this is a vicious circle:

- Since most users have an Windows OS, software developers release their software on windows.

- Since most software is released on windows, users want to buy that, irrelevant of the software quality.

- Since a lot of customers want windows, stores and OEMs only stock that.

=> If Microsoft bundles a software with windows, it becomes an instant de facto standard because of the sheer market share, irrespective of the products quality.

This gives MS a tremendous competitive advantage and completely distorts the market, so this needs to be corrected.

A good way to correct this is to ensure that little software is bundled with Windows and that what is bundled is a purely standard piece of software, meaning that any website developed for the dominant browser will work equally well with the competition.

When I see the quality of Vista and IE compared to OSX, Firefox Opera and to a lesser extent Linux, I think that if it wasn't for this vicious circle Microsoft wouldn't have the market share they currently enjoys by far.

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@ Karl Lattimer

I was already aware that IE7 is not secure, but this does not matter so much in Vista. Since you, Sir, are obviously very well-informed, judging by your treatise on this side issue, perhaps you can let me know which software is definitely secure. And by the way, the qualifications in your post I will not take personally, since you did not spell my name properly.

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@Steve Browne

Two points:

a) use ftp to download the browser. File Transfer Protocol. Kind of clues you in to what it's for...

b) Do you know why MS stopped developing IE for Mac? Because Safari was built in to the OS (though you can uninstall it and it removes the dll's etc, so it's no longer a security risk)? Because they couldn't see how IE was going to be able to contend with a browser built into the OS!!!! What a hoot! So to MS you can compete with IE even though it's built in, but IE can't compete with a browser if that's built in.

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@Paul

If they dropped the Windows player, dropped MP3's and any other format other than MP4 (content DRM'd version) and allowed only iTunes on Mac to update the system, this would be using their "MP3 player" monopoly (which isn't much of a monopoly: you can still buy CD's, and that's still MUCH bigger than MP3's) to gain traction in supplying an OS (which is another market).

But you can rip MP3's and download them to the iPod using iTunes on windows, or by using the system as a removable drive and copying the files across. So they aren't trying to make using an OS other than Mac worse.

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@albert

err, a load of crap that weighs less than another load of crap is still a load of crap. Using ie7 on Vista with no malware protection only proves to the world how silly you are.

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@chad

I don't think you tried what I did, nor that you tested it, so how can you be a judge? I have this running for 6 months now. It is fine for me and there is nothing "lurking in the background".

And let's be precise: I don't wish to use a virus scanner anymore, since it does nothing for me now. Having no virus scanner running does not mean that there is no malware protection. I have a much better firewall than I used to have, there is defender (also takes up CPU cycles for not much reason) and I use the browser in protected mode.

Anyway, this is beside the main issue, but it is my fault for being explicit about not wanting third party software - or as little as I can manage - on my PC. My apologies for doing something many of you clearly do not like very much. But these posts have not changed my opinion about the Commission, either.

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@Steve Browne

> how Opera is to be downloaded without a browser in the first place?

Er - ftp and wget or at a pinch, ZModem. How do you think stuff got transferred around before browsers?

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Safari is not built into the OS

@ Mark

Safari is a separate and distinct application. You can delete the entire app and all its supporting files with no consequences for the OS at all. It is in no way, shape or form built-into the OS. Please do not tar Apple's *shipping* of a browser with the OS with the same brush as MS's *integration* of their browser into Windows.

@ Paul

There *are* alternative applications to iTunes for getting your songs onto your iPod. The directory structure is in plain site for everyone to develop an app to install music files onto the iPod (it is just hidden from view to the average user). You evidently just haven't bothered to look for them.

@ Albert

This isn't just about IE7 on Vista. This is about MS using their dominance in the OS and browser market to force the use of IE on other devices where they have not yet got any market foothold, such as mobile phones and PDAs. This is where Opera is currently strongest, hence their worries that they are going to be "Netscaped" or "Palmed" by the MS juggernaut.

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Boffin

OMG - So much Astro Turfing

Please don't water the astro-turf.

If you were genuinely interested in the anti-trust cases against Microsoft, you'd use a search engine against the terms "Microsoft antitrust" and then seek authorative third-party (non-MS, non-competitor) material, and then actually read it;

United States Microsoft Antitrust Case: 1998 - 2000 - 2002

"Welcome to this web site established for coordinated state enforcement of federal court judgments against the Microsoft Corporation for Microsoft's unlawful monopoly conduct. Here you can find information on the antitrust remedies ordered by the federal court and an on-line complaint form that may be used by the public to report suspected violations of the judgments."

http://www.microsoft-antitrust.gov/

European Union Microsoft Antitrust Case: 1998 - 2004 - 2007

"The web-pages referred to below provide information about the European Commission’s March 2004 Microsoft Decision, the Court of First Instance proceedings relating to that Decision, and its ongoing implementation."

http://ec.europa.eu/comm/competition/antitrust/cases/microsoft/

"This Decision found that Microsoft had abused its dominant position in the PC operating system market"

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/antitrust/cases/microsoft/investigation.html

How about that - on at least two continents:

Microsoft is a monopoly.

Microsoft acted unlawfully.

Microsoft has unclean hands.

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@ Anonymous Coward

Thanks for your point, which I agree with. Keeping Opera alive on phones and mobile equipment is something else than unbundling of Windows. The article speaks of unbundling of Windows, however, which was the reason for stressing my point that I do not want Windows unbundled for my home PC. I suspect the majority of ordinary PC users feels the same.

OS on home PCs is a different market from systems for mobile equipment, TVs etc. I do not believe Microsoft is very strong there, so there should be no cause for alarm. It is much better to keep the regulators out of the market; they are at the mercy of lobbyists, they really do not know what they are talking about - although some think they do because they have a PC - and there is a danger that they will regulate the market to death.

I must say I am surprised by several of the comments, showing a great deal of fear-mongering and hobby-horse riding.

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