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back to article EC jacks up Microsoft fine by €899m

The European Commission has added another €899m ($1.35bn) to the fine Microsoft must pay for failing to comply with the original anti-trust ruling in 2004. The fine covers the period from the 2004 decision to 22 October, 2007. The decision found that Microsoft was charging competitors too much for interoperability information …

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Coat

Naugthy Boys

Shall we have a whip round to help Bill Garden Gates and Steve Blimp out on this one ? HAHAHAHA

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Jobs Horns

Email gone missing?

Perhaps they couldn't get to their Hotmail account?

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Unhappy

Who gets it?

I wonder who benefits from the fine money? Brussels bureaucracy or EU farmers, I guess. If there were any justice, the bounty would be split between competitors of Microsoft harmed by its practices- including relevant open source projects like Samba and Linux.

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Coat

A special "Ultimate Edition" fine

Well done Microsoft, you have become the first "user" of the EU's "Ultimate" edition fine/tax.

I wonder what the next version will cost them?

The grey suit jacket please

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Gates Halo

Damn, Damn and thrice Damn

I think a better solution from the EU would to have been outlawing all Microsft products within their boundaries.

It would save the EU (and Britain) billions. Admittedly, hundreds of thousands of people who make a living rectifying Redmond's mistakes would have to look for another job but in war, there are always casualties!!

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Stop

@AC

No - but the 'getting my coat' icon belays the obvious lack of humour in your comments. And you can't spell Naughty, either.

Epic Fail.

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Gates Horns

Burn microsoft, burn

Ah we should all go to the streets and burn the manekens of Gates and Balmer. Not that it would change anything, but it surely would be fun :)

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Flame

More money for Greek Goat herders then!

Isn't it about time the people who've apparently been on the receiving end of these overcharges be given the money back. At least in the USA they do this in a sensible way, PC's for schools, vouchers to people who brought the product n question, but not in the EU, oh no, it just buys Mandy another cheap looking suit and stack load of madeup expenses! Why doeesn't the EU fess up and say it's short of a bob or two and turn the screw on Microsoft cus they've got loads of cash!

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Gates Halo

Ashamed

As an EU citizen I am ashamed that the EU CC is levying this fine on behalf of me, when I think it is completely unjustified and unfair. Microsoft should not have to pander to every single request from any competitor wanting a slice of their market share, the failure of XP Home N to sell shows that consumers see the value of Windows + Windows Media Player.

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Gold badge

They'll never comply

They opened up some APIs, but the licence prevented commercial open source products from using it.

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Gates Halo

Who gets the money?

So, assuming MS pays up, who gets the money? Does it go to the people that the EU think were unfairly disadvantaged by MSs practises? Doubt that very much. More likely will go to a few fat bonuses for EU beaurocrats, and the odd junket or two.

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Paris Hilton

Hey first to post the Paris Hilton Thingie.

Or not as the case may be.

But Paris for the EU. Or was it Lichtenstein or somewhere?

Who gets the money and what do they do with it?

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Happy

EU enforcement Bot to M$:

"You have 20 seconds to comply"...

If only... :-)

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Gates Horns

@AC@AC

Maybe the first poster mis-typed "naughty" but you don't know what "belay" means - unless there is a mountaineering connection I'm too mentally feeble to spot. I think you meant "belies".

Epic Fail indeed.

PS Way to go EU!

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Re: Who gets it?

We all do.

Theoretically this will reduce the need to raise more money from others.

In any case, since we can't jail the entire MS corporation and ALL it cares about (in US religious doctrine) is money, we can take the money off them.

Does it matter where it goes?

Because without fining them, we have two options:

Jail all of microsoft

Take their code and give it to someone who won't break the law

Can we do either?

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Pirate

Real antitrust enforcement

so that's what it looks like...we don't have any of that here in the US. between the Saudi oil money and corporate cash, they bought all the politicians so thoroughly, we have to read news from overseas to remember how this is supposed to work.

here, they hold Congressional hearings about some baseball players getting steroids, because THAT is what REALLY matters.

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Black Helicopters

Better solution ...

Stop enforcing copyright/trademark infringement and pirac ... er.. LIBERATION of Microsoft products within EU borders.

Maybe then MS will finally stop dragging their feet and listen up.

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g e
Silver badge

Proof of a benign God

... perhaps?

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Coat

Oi! Stocks! Gethem! Now!

<pressing intercom> Oi! Sheila! Get them brokers on the phone! Buy all avaiable stocks of chair manufactoring companies. Pronto! </intercom>

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To Microsoft supporter

>> Microsoft should not have to pander to every single request from any competitor wanting a slice of their market share.

Oh? why not? Microsoft are in a very special position called a monopoly, not just an application monopoly but an operating system monopoly. So just like black holes with space time, Microsoft distorts markets, industry and different market rules apply.

I know it hurts the old liberal capitalists hearts to think of an "honest" business being some how held accountable for being successful. But even Adam Smith would have dismantled Microsoft for hurting the market.

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So what?

And this means what?

what if MS chooses not to pay, EU gonna make everyone switch to Macs or (shutter) Linux?

This is better than going to the circus.

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Alert

Re: Who Gets It?

I'm not sure how fines are distributed but I'd guess they go into the general fund.

That said, the snide comments about the money going to farmers are a bit wide of the mark now. It's not heavily reported but the EU is reallocating some of the farm subsidy cash towards high-tech businesses and away from farmers.

As the son of a U.K. farmer myself, and a software developer, it makes a lot of sense.

What we have to remember though is that, unlike I.T., farming is a strategic asset that has to be protected because of the dramatic affect failures can have on feeding the population.

You've only got to look at the last year with widespread wheat crop failures in places like Australia and Canada to realise how vulnerable we and the rest of the world are every year to the effects of drought, flood, and other causes.

I'd rather the farmers were guaranteed an income so they know they can survive the tough economic times so that the food supply is safe, than have them expected to survive without subsidy and see a mass exit from farming - many farmers don't make an economic return and haven't for a while.

Unlike most markets the farmers can't set their own prices. They are dictated by a combination of world markets and large retailers squeezing their margins.

Most farmers only dream of making the kind of profit margins and salaries people in I.T. expect.

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Gates Halo

Wouldn't happen if it was a French company

With the notable exception of VLC, every bit of French software I've used is buggy, slow, doesn't really do what it's meant to, generally crashes anything else it has to interface with. However, SAP, DOORS, Statemate (all European software) are excellent and world-leading, and all the above interface to various bits of MS software rather well (if required). VLC is OK, but there are several other free superior media players and none of them are French!

The French ability to write good software (at least for Windows) seems to be lacking if UK, Germany and Sweden (to name three) manage to do it so well. Hell, my French colleagues are the first to slate the good old British roast, why shouldn't I slate their coding abilities? :-)

Right, I'm going to start building cars in my shed, and if Renault and Peugeot don't tell me exactly how to do it I'm going to get the EU to sue them!

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The next step

So they've fined them, then fined them for not paying the fine (which Microsoft believe they shouldn't have to pay, because they complied after being told they were going to be fined more? Did I read that right?). So on the next round, will they simply levy another fine, or start sending the bailiffs round to Microsoft European offices and seizing assets?

Because that would be HILARIOUS.

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The ideal remedy

Nothing happenned in the US because they couldn't decide on what remedy to ask for. I always thought the ideal remedy would be to require Microsoft to write in big print at the top of every contract (including corporate and government procurement contracts) and prominently on every consumer package "Notice: Microsoft, the publisher of this software, is a convicted monopolist."

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@Taylor

MS cannot "choose not to pay".

They have been found to break EU anti-competition LAW. They also cannot appeal the decision (again), because they have already moved up to the highest courts for the anti-trust jurisdiction, and this case is already years old (MS have moved on). They might be able to appeal the amount though I suppose.

If they refused to pay, then ultimately (though this would never happen because they will of course pay) MS execs can be locked up and the money seized by US authorities acting on behalf of the EU.

Someone with more legal knowledge than me can fill in the blanks here. But MS certainly doesn't have the choice whether to pay up, any more than a convicted serial killer can choose not to go to jail.

If MS were above the law, they wouldn't even bother going to court.

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Anonymous Coward

Microsoft ATM

Sounds likes Microsoft's just a nice source of cash for the EU. How does that work anyway? Does the EU realize they're a €899m short on their budget and go looking for a corporation to fine?

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@Michael

They don't need to seize assets, the WTO treaties allow the regulator to authorise its citizens to copy Microsoft products without prosecution. That is, Microsoft sees no future revenue from EU members. Microsoft is obviously betting that the EU won't try this on. But the EU is getting more and more annoyed and the new US President Hillbama might not want to get in a trade fight with the EU if they still want NATO in Afghanistan.

As far as the bailiffs go, I'll bet Microsoft's European staff are being reminded as we write to keep all their e-mail and documents on US servers, not on their local PCs. Just in case, after all they wouldn't want the EU finding Greg Blepp's suitcase of code Linux stole from SCO :-) There isn't much other attraction for the EU in Microsoft's assets -- multinational branch offices usually lease physical assets.

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Flame

Yes, outlaw them, please.

"I think a better solution from the EU would to have been outlawing all Microsft products within their boundaries."

Yes, please, please, please. Making them lose the European market would surely be a huge gift to Humankind.

Sadly EU is not that good/smart/whatever. But MS deserves it for not complying with the law.

I also think these fines are ridiculously low. They should expropiate all MS assets, including software and copyrights!

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Coat

Yes, outlaw them, please.

"Who gets the money?"

EU, obviously.

It will be used to pay landowners of inferior quality (but huge quantity) production farms. Or worse: it will go to pay the bottom-trawling ships that are depleting the oceans.

In the best case it will help Rumania to clean up the Danub delta.

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Flame

@Microsoft ATM

yes. clearly that's exactly what happened here.

i for one am glad your searing intellect has cleared that one up for us, Mr Coward.*

*any relation to Noel?

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Happy

Case COMP/C-3/37.792 Microsoft

I think it would be fair if all those with any oppinion about the Microsoft/EU case bothered to read the text written bye the EU.

The pdf is at:

ec.europa.eu/comm/competition/antitrust/cases/decisions/37792/en.pdf

Plus 300 pages as a pdf.

A text absolutly worth reading.

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Unhappy

Re: Who gets it?

The real question is who pays it? Who pays twice what the Americans do for a copy of Vista?

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@Andrew Willett

Fool. This isn't about "pandering to the competition", it's about punishing Microsoft for using their monopoly position to *stifle* competition. If they hadn't done that, then capped it off by acting like they were above the law, this would not even be happening.

They thought they could continue to act as an abusive monopoly, operating in only their own interests. They thought wrong. They brought this upon themselves. Tough shit.

For the clueless: competition is good. It fuels innovation and progress, and makes sure that the customer gets a better deal. It means that products have to compete on merit, and everyone raises their game, or gets out of the game. It stops everything from falling into mediocrity.

Microsoft employ a lot of smart people, they should be more than capable of innovating and competing on quality. They've just never had to do that very much until now, and it shows.

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Gates Horns

Re: Re: Who gets it?

"The real question is who pays it? Who pays twice what the Americans do for a copy of Vista?"

Very few people? I didn't think anyone was buying Vista...

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Re: Martin Owens

Microsoft a monopoly? Funny, I can't get three posts into one of these threads without someone mentioning Linux or whatever the iComp uses now. If there's competition, then Microsoft is not a monopoly, it's just very good at shutting the competition out from the mainstream. While this may be "immoral" or even lead to non-Pareto outcomes, it's what a business is supposed to do, and as a business it is still dependent on customer goodwill. I have far more faith in the ability of customers to vote with their wallet than in the bloated eurocracy to drive its gravy train up to the market and fix it with their usual efficiency and competence.

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Dead Vulture

@Michael

Hilarious?

You remind me of a somewhat infamous Usenet poster. You're not him are you?

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Thumb Up

Delays cut both ways

I read somewhere that the FUD resulting from the separate but somehow related SCO litigation has cost Linux vendors hundreds of millions on dollars in lost sales. Every day of delay in resolving this long drawn out litigation diverts more business from the Linux vendors to their competition (whoever that may be).

If Microsoft had paid the EUR497m and cleaned up its act in 2004 it would have paid something like $591m when the Euro was worth around $1.19

According to the Beeb they had another EUR280m fine in July 2006, lost their appeal over the original EUR497m in September 2007 and then we have the EUR899m fine announced today

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7265963.stm

The other big news of the day is the Euro is at a record high against the dollar so the original EUR497m fine is now worth about $744m - an extra $153m compared to the 2004 value. Does anyone know if they paid it yet?

There is a certain justice that one of the major beneficiaries of the delays in the SCO litigation is now feeling the pain of using delay, delay, delay tactics.

It's just sad that it is unlikely that any of the bodies that have suffered directly from Microsoft's abuse will receive any significant monetary benefit from the fines, and that quite likely in the bigger scheme of things Microsoft may still consider it money well spent in keeping its competition several years behind and too busy trying to interoperate with existing applications by reverse engineering while ploughing ahead with its sharepoint development

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Alert

@Martin Owens

How does it hurt the market?

Peoples get confused by 3 or 4 version of an OS. Now imagine Linux with 100's of distro....

but still, What MS should be forced to do is to release *ALL* of the api code sp competitors (For a fee) could come up with a "Compatible" OS to compete with microsoft.

Stealing money from MS (as the EU is trying to do) is not the solution.

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Linux

Maybe the US should do the same

Could help with that national debt problem..

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Bronze badge

@ Spleen

"Microsoft a monopoly? Funny, I can't get three posts into one of these threads without someone mentioning Linux or whatever the iComp uses now."

That's because The Register is frequented by IT literate types many of whom know how to use and control an operating system. Where as most m$ users are consumers who just bought a PC not an OS. The m$ monopoly means the majority of consumers do not even know alternatives exist. Talk Linux or OSX in 90% of forums/blogs and most would not have a clue what one is talking about.

Megalomania and greed are NOT virtues, should not be a goal of business and should certainly not be lauded.

m$ should be broken into tiny pieces and forced to reduce prices by around 80%. Although £40 for a copy of vista is still somewhat extortionate.

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"Who pays twice what the Americans do for a copy of Vista?"

Well because the monopoly prices at the maximum revenue, they can't afford to up the cost any more because either people will leave the MS system or they won't upgrade yet.

That they are massively overcharging already is why they have 50Bn in the bank.

If they could charge more and get more money, they would.

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@Spleen

If you're going to be soooo logical, how about point out that mono means one and poly means many, so it doesn't make sense to say "monopoly" and if the wookie lives on endor, you must acquit!!!

Can the market decide to up sticks and move away from MS? No. Can MS decide to unload a new OS and get the market to buy? Yes. That is the power a monopoly has.

In the EU a monopoly is bad, in the US you can have a monopoly, but as soon as you use your power in that monopoly to hurt the market, you are in trouble.

It's all about the market being unfree.

And the market of PC software is unfree.

If you make a graphics card without a windows driver, it won't sell.

If you write a game for Macontosh only, it won't sell.*

If you write a calendaring program that doesn't accept Outlook or connect to exchange, it won't sell.

If you write an OS that won't connect to a Windows network, it won't sell.

But if you write a "server OS" that interfaces only with Windows, you're still going to have a large market to sell against.

The market is unfree because computers are MEANT to INTEROPERATE. MS are doing their damndest to only interoperate with themselves. And that can make you go blind...

* = sell enough to make the millions you're paying to develop a new top tier game

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Gates Halo

corporate buyout

What with MS buying out other major corporates, (YAHOO!) I'm waiting for them to set their eyes on the EU just to shut them up.

"Your TLD has changed from .EU to .MS .. you are the Micro-States"

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Anonymous Coward

@Spleen

"Microsoft a monopoly?..."

yes it is a monopoly, have you ever tried to walk into a PC Retailer and BUY a Computer without Microsoft Windows on it? Try it go walk into PC World or where ever and tell them you want a PC with Linux on, you'd face blank stares...

That is a monopoly, everyone uses a PC with Windows on because of course the capability to buy a whole system without WIndows is VERY limited. You can only install Windows or Linux if you know what your doing and average joe public hasn't a clue about how to do that, sorry but if their PC comes with Windows that's what they will use.

A monopoly? Yep.

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Alert

Re:spleen

>>Microsoft a monopoly?

Yes! Even the US DoJ decided that was the case. There is no argument: MS *is* a monopolist and *must* be treated as one.

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Flame

Re: Re: Who gets it? (Farmers)

I'm all for supporting Farmers and protecting the EU's ability to feed itself, but the CAP is just a way of lining French farmers pockets. Produce is sold (by farmers) at artificially high prices for more than we can eat with the excess being dumped on developing nations at below wholesale prices. This ruins the local economies in these countries, which can then only afford to sell their wares to the EU (where prices are higher), but only a select few can do this. The rest struggle to feed their families.

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Joke

@Niall Campbell

"I think a better solution from the EU would to have been outlawing all Microsft products within their boundaries."

This just in. In apparent retalliation of the EC's outright theft of over 2 billion dollars, MS has announced that as of today it has withdrawn all operations from the European Union, terminated the employment of all MS personnel in the EU, cancelled licenses on all Microsoft software and detonated built-in "logic bombs" which permanently disable MS software on whatever EU computer it may be used in, now and in the future. All MS proprety has been put up for sale by an third party to be named later. According to Microsoft any non-European computers that try to operate within the EU borders will also be permanently "nuked". According to MS this is in compliance with the EC ban on MS software within EU boundries.

"We regret the hardship this places on Europe and her allies, however we have determined the criminal actions of the EC anti-trust commissioner will not permit us to operate within the political entity that is the EU. Further, we have initiated proceedings in the World Court to recover all fines placed in escrow to the EC. These funds will be used to compensate former EU Microsoft employees for the loss of their livelyhoods.

In an effort to aid Europe during the transition we have shipped a single Ubuntu Linux CD to the EC, with a one page set of instructions on its distribution. We have full confidence that Steelie Neelie will be able to single handedly transition Europe and her allies into the freeware world of Linux and LAMP.

Good luck, and may God have mercy on your souls." -- Steve Balmer

This unprecedented action by Microsoft has stunned the continent as fully 95% of all personal computers simply stopped working. The internet has also taken a massive hit, with approximately 35% of all websites vanishing from the net. If you are one of the few people able to read this, please turn to your television for further news."

Be careful what you wish for... :)

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Linux

Whats better ?

A software monopolist who has a platform billions of people use to run programs on? or government institutionalized theft ?

I'm not a pro/con microsoft/linux/OSx/Solaris advocate.And this is not a Pro/COn posting. I try to give a different perspective :

I find that i install the OS required to run the applications i need on a daily basis. Right now thats 99% windows and 1% linux.

If you think about it : you are using the Os to run APPLICATIONS. you don't use the 'OS'. There is nobody with a sane mind that sits down behind the screen and says : today i am going to use kernel.dll. You use SOFTWARE that runs on the Os.

The EU should go after all the software companies that make software that only runs on Windows !. Why can't we have things like photoshop , Adobe Premiere , After effects ,Encore ,Designer, Paintshop Pro, Autocad , Solidworks , IAR C crosscompilers , Keil , J-trace, and tons of other commercial programs, on other operating systems ? Most of these programs are written in C/ C++ anyway. yank them through a compiler for the target platform and get it over with.

The answer is simple : these guys write software for what is popular as OS. And right now that is MS. They compile for the market where they expect the most sales.

And don't start the argument : "but there is equivalent software for linux/macos".

I don''t want 'equivalent' i want THAT software. You can't ask someone who has invested years of time in learning and using a software tool to switch. it will take at least a year until you are comfortable at the same productivity level using a different tool ( i'm not talking about a text editor but very high end graphics / cad / design software that has steep and long learning curves )

Besides, most of the stuff thats out there for linux seems to be in a perpetual state of 'half finished , recompile it yourself for your distro , or -we haven't got that 10 year old feature yet, but you can do this elaborate process to get an almost similar result- . And don't whine. It's free and if you don't like it :you have the source ....

We seem to forget that 99.99 % of people that use a computer, use APPLICATIONS. Maybe 0.01 % actually writes programs ( and i'm not alking about writing a script or excel macro, but writing a real finished application that would be commercially viable.

It's the software you use that decides which OS you run !.

If i was MS it would be 'lights-off' for europe. We don't force people in the EU to use our OS. So fine, europe, here you go: we will no longer sell microsoft products in europe. Have fun using your own OS / software now.. Oh, wait that's right ... you haven't got anything ... can i offer you pen and paper ? You can now sue all the other software manufacturers because they don''t have the tools you use today available for whatever OS you will use now.

The penguin because he looks cuddly but could poke your eyes out with that sharp beak...

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Consumers will pay this fine indirectly .

I am not sure who is right or wrong. But I know this fine will transfer on to the consumer as price increase. This is a covered taxed imposed on MS product users all over the world.

Nonsense ! EU commisioners are not protecting the consumers like this but punishing them..

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