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EU Says Microsoft Still Not Compliant 339 339

what about writes "News.com is reporting that the European Union still doesn't consider Microsoft in compliance with its anti-trust ruling." From the article: "Should the Commission issue a final decision against Microsoft, the software giant would face a retroactive fine of $2.36 million a day for the period between Dec. 15 and the date the final decision is issued. The Commission may then take additional steps to extend the daily fine until Microsoft complies with the order. The Commission's letter is just the latest action it has taken in the closely watched antitrust case. "
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EU Says Microsoft Still Not Compliant

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  • by RedHatLinux (453603) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:09PM (#14894500) Homepage
    enough of a fine to make breaking the law an unprofitable method of doing business? I doubt it, given how much money Microsoft has saved up.
    • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:21PM (#14894602)
      Microsoft had really better tone itself down for the EU. The EU's not going to let some big American company get pushy, and with the recent news of OSS in Europe, as well as the fact Apple is now #1 in the UK education market (passing Dell at #2), someone at Microsoft needs to just comply with what the EU wants. It's not worth the consequences. Tech is fickle, and just because Microsoft has a huge monopoly now doesn't mean it won't become irrelevant in a month.
      • the fact Apple is now #1 in the UK education market (passing Dell at #2), someone at Microsoft needs to just comply with what the EU wants.

        Right, Microsoft doesn't have the power and market share to avoid paying fines for being a...um...powerful monopoly...

        • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Friday March 10, 2006 @07:21PM (#14895060)
          It's not about money, it's about losing ground to other companies who are quite happy to play friendly with the EU. Paying big fines wouldn't sit well with shareholders either.
          • I might be wrong, but I think "amliebsch" was illuding to the fact that entities with lots of money can, er, make sure things go their way! (nudge-nudge wink-wink)
      • by mormop (415983) on Friday March 10, 2006 @07:26PM (#14895103)
        From Gartner:

        Apple has confirmed that it's taken the number one spot in the western European education market.
        Apple's education market share in western Europe is now 15.2 per cent, relegating Dell, with 14.7 per cent, to second place.

        If Apple owns 15.2% of the EU market that leaves 84.8% that are running Windows minus the small percentage that are running Linux. It's all very well putting Apple in the number 1 PC vendor spot but the Windows share is Dell plus any number of other Intel/MS manufacturers plus schools that build their own and use site wide volume licences etc.

        Without wishing to piss on the Apple parade, MS are still the number 1 OS in education. Believe me, I wish it were otherwise as I've spent some time putting Linux/Samba in place of a school's NT network and I soooooooo want to run Linux clients but there's just so much curriculum software for Windows that can't be replaced with what's available for Linux/MAC.

        On the other hand, I don't see how MS can win this one. The validity of their licences in the EU only holds because EU law supports them. If MS take the piss it only needs shrink wrapped licences to be declared invalid and MS are bolloxed.

        The EU could also change competition law and make the max daily fine 10 million or 10 billion. If MS threaten to pull out of Europe you can look at it two ways, 1 - a disaster that could hurt the European economy or 2 - an opportunity for the birth of a whole new European software industry. OK so start the flames but at the end of the day there are many people who have stomped out of their workplace convinced that the company that's treated them so badly will suffer only to find that after a short period of readjustment the company forgets they even existed.

        In the event of MS exiting Europe you can expect to see many of today's Linux geeks being tomorrows training company millionaires. Roll it on, that's what I say.
        • by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Friday March 10, 2006 @07:54PM (#14895324)
          MS are still the number 1 OS in education

          I'm not shocked, here in Spain (and everywhere) the public schools are teaching windows/office on computer classes to all kids.

          I mean, public schools are wasting lots of millions in making people learn microsoft-only technologies, and Microsoft is not wasting a single pennie on educating them.

          "Public schools - monopolize yourself (tm)"
    • by kebes (861706) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:35PM (#14894708) Journal
      Is 2.36 million a day enough of a fine to make breaking the law an unprofitable method of doing business? I doubt it, given how much money Microsoft has saved up.

      Well the article says:

      the software giant would face a retroactive fine of $2.36 million a day for the period between Dec. 15 and the date the final decision is issued

      It's been 85 days since Dec 15, 2005. So that means that the fine would already be $202 million. Microsoft's market cap is $281 bilion [yahoo.com]. So I guess it's not a big % of their budget. On the other hand, this fine represents an "operating cost" of $861 million a year. Paying out a billion dollars a year is not a trivial amount of money, even for MS. It's not so much that they "can't afford it" since they have large reserves of cash (enough to pay off this fine for many years, no doubt)... it's more that investors are not going to be pleased knowing that $1 billion/year is disappearing without any return on it. That will negatively affect stock prices, hence affect Microsoft's ability to operate, compete, etc.

      Plus, I would fully expect the EU to increase the daily fine if this went on for a long time. I'm sure other laws would come into play also, based on Microsoft's obvious ignoring of rulings. They could be ordered to stop doing business in the EU altogether. After all, if they are unwilling to comply with this legal directive, then who knows what others laws they might ignore. You can't afford to have rogue companies operating in your countries!

      So I think MS will have to take this fine seriously, one way or another.
      • by LetterRip (30937) on Friday March 10, 2006 @07:14PM (#14895003)
        [QUOTE]it's more that investors are not going to be pleased knowing that $1 billion/year is disappearing without any return on it. [/QUOTE]

        The return is in that they can stunt competition - they desperately do not want competitors to be able to interoperate otherwise they risk losing their monopoly. If there were truly no return, then they would have made the change shortly after the initial request.

        LetterRip
      • I think the more arrogant Microsoft is, thinking it can get way with this (like they might have in America), the more the risk for them that they overplay their hand. It might surprise Microsoft when it is banned from Europe if they would play it on the hardway. The EU has already a "free software first" policy and Europeans have a lot of interests in their own software industry which they will not let it hijack by Microsoft, this is the reason for the EU to start with this fine anyway. We'll see what comes
  • Wrist-slapping (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:13PM (#14894542) Homepage Journal
    Still just a slap on the wrist until they actually get Microsoft to end its anti-competitive practices [msversus.org]. The day a government actually gets Microsoft to change its corporate conduct is the day I'll applaud.
    • You underestimate the power of a minor punishment in an antitrust conviction. The problem in the US (and I am assuming in the EU as well, but IANAL) is called nonmutual collateral estoppel and basically ensures that once Microsoft is convicted of an antitrust violation, it becomes much easier for competitors to prove antitrust violations. This leads to an army of lawyers enforcing antitrust law.

      Microsoft would have been better off had they been broken up. Now, they are just bleeding in shark infested wat
      • Re:Wrist-slapping (Score:3, Informative)

        by truthsearch (249536)
        My understanding is that in the EU they've already been found guilty. This is a fine for further non-compliance, which I imagine would have little bearing on other lawsuits. Although I suppose if they're fined some of their competitors can claim they were the ones affected and it may help their lawsuits. I dunno.
        • Re:Wrist-slapping (Score:3, Insightful)

          by einhverfr (238914)
          I probably shouldhave been more specific about nonmutual collateral estoppel in the US. Basically, any fact which is determined as a necessary part of one law suit cannot be relitigated in the next one. IANAL, though.

          So in USDoJ v. Microsoft, as a necessary part of that lawsuit, it was determined that Microsoft had market power in the operating systems markets, and that they had illegally maintained this market power. This was necessary to determine that there was a Sherman Act violation.

          So now, with Nov
    • Re:Wrist-slapping (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tshak (173364)
      Still just a slap...

      No, it's still extortion. I know the typical /. mantra is that MS did evil by adding features to their OS without adding cost. I know that people believe it's black-and-white antitrust for giving huge discounts to OEM's for volume license agreements in which all machines sold had Windows instead of some niche OS that has zero relevance to the OEM's marketshare. But the reality is that governemnt should never have this much heavy handed control over business, and the EU is essentially st
      • If it would have made no difference to MS whether companies also sold non-MS machines, then why would MS put such a condition? You can't have it both ways.

        Also this is about opening up the file formats. That seems to be in the interests of increasing competition.
      • the EU is essentially stealing US dollars on the backs of the underdogs.

        As opposed to Microsoft, which was convicted of stealing dollars from European competitors who wanted to develop products that read and write Microsoft file formats and wire protocols?

        Do you really think the consumer or BeOS will get a dime of this? Please.

        The consumers in this case are European governments and their tax-paying citizens. This may help fund the governments' transition from Microsoft solutions to free software s

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:30PM (#14894675) Homepage
    The EU courts ruled that they need to supply the information to competitors. They did not say commercial competitors. They did not say they could change a fee for it. (One could argue that they didn't say they couldn't but that's just bullsit weaseling that they won't get away with.) But to stipulate that the license on the information is that it could not be released to the public is 100% wrong and against the demands of the EU courts.

    "Competitors" can and does include commercial, for-profit and non-profit competition alike. Whatever organization that is "Samba" along with whatever organization that is "OpenOffice" and whatever organization that is "Ximian" all qualify in this regard as far as I can tell.

    Frankly, this is kind of fun to watch Microsoft in this losing battle. They are attempting to play this the way they played it in the U.S. and these people AREN'T Americans and probably dislike American companies... especially arrogant ones like Microsoft.

    I just wonder if I will have to wait until Christmas to get my presents...
    • Actually the European Commision is not a court. Their anti-trust division is more comparable to the DOJ's role in the U.S. When European Commision anti-trust decisions are appealed to the real, independant courts (the Court of First Instance or the European Court of Justice) they are overturned relatively often.
  • No surprise. (Score:4, Informative)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:32PM (#14894691)
    News.com is reporting that the European Union still doesn't consider Microsoft in compliance with its anti-trust ruling.

    Based upon recent Microsoft diversionary tactics (publicising the documents, filing suit in the US, etc.), it was evident that Microsoft knew they weren't complying with the ruling. That is why Micorosft was trying to divert everyone's attention to other matters.

  • by PhysicsPhil (880677) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:36PM (#14894714)
    Many posters are claiming that this is not enough to make a real difference to MS, but I disagree. $2.36 million per day is not chump change.

    Microsoft's revenues are ~$40 billion annually, leading to a ~$13 billion profit. $2.36 million per day is $861 million per year, or 6% of Microsoft's yearly profits. While it won't kill them, figures like that are enough to make investors (and their lawsuit-happy lawyers) sit up and take notice.

    It's also important to realize that this will only be the beginning. If MS continues to flout the EU's penalties, they will only get stiffer. In a fight between a multinational corporation and a multinational government, I'm betting on the EU this time.

  • by Jugalator (259273) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:55PM (#14894877) Journal
    Taeus' report describes various parts of the documentation as "entirely inadequate" and "self-contradictory," according to the Commission statement. "Taeus concludes that Microsoft's documentation was written 'primarily to maximize volume (page count) while minimizing useful information.'"

    Microsoft, however, contends it has gone above and beyond industry requirements for documentation.


    LOL, MS may actually speak the truth, and "inadequate" and "self-contradictory" may exactly be what the technical docs are. :-)
    • I've wondered about this as well. What if Microsoft really doesn't have internal documentation that's worth anything? What if, for the most part, their code really is their documentation?

      This would still be an uneven playing field for the rest of the world, because the rest of the world doesn't have access to Microsoft's source, and even if they did, they don't have access to the relevant developers to have them explain it. So, even if that's all Microsoft has, the EU still needs to force them to fix i

    • True. Microsoft should be aiming for EU requirements, not industry requirements. They still don't get the kind of hot water that they're in, and continue to dick around like they always do. "You're illegally tying products!" stall... stall... stall... IE, Media Player, all still in there.
  • by Quiberon (633716) on Friday March 10, 2006 @07:25PM (#14895093) Journal
    There are some things that I would expect to be able to do
    • Move my applications and data around between Windows/Intel, Apple Mac, Sony Playstation 3, and any more serious computers I might have around. (Yes, it would be nice to move Word around too)
    • Be able to understand the contents of a Word document from an application which wasn't Word.
    • Have a choice of more than one software publisher. If your field was ... say ... Geography Teaching, and there was only one publisher of Geography textbooks in the world, you'd think you were getting a bit of a restricted picture.
    • Be able to use a computer until it wears out. The current 3-to-4-year lifetime is environmentally unfriendly.

      Also, I get somewhat intimidated by Microsoft and their legal threats. I don't mind what software other people use, but I do object to anyone stopping me using what software I want. The important thing for me is that I should have the right to take my software apart, change and fix it, and put it back together again.

  • The end game (Score:3, Informative)

    by zmower (20335) on Friday March 10, 2006 @07:29PM (#14895121)
    In a rare move, the Commission on Friday also published information detailing the role of its monitoring trustee. ...

    "It's not the kind of normal thing we do, but we have done so because Microsoft is alleging the trustee acted in an inappropriate manner in terms of contacting other companies," said Jonathan Todd, a spokesman for the Commission. "We wanted to make crystal clear that he is obligated to be proactive."

    These refer to this disclosure [slashdot.org]. Checkmate, I think.
  • by tsa (15680) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @05:53AM (#14897281) Homepage
    Microsoft, however, contends it has gone above and beyond industry requirements for documentation.

    I never knew there was such a thing as industry requirements for documentation.

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