EU vs. Microsoft

December 22, 2005

Making the EU angry can become a costly affair:

German news magazine tagesschau reports (for English, see Bloomberg, for example):

Today, the European Commission (the Brussel-based market regulator of the European Union) threatened world's largest software maker Microsoft with a fine of no less than 2m Euro (~ 2.4 million $) a day if they do not comply with their 2004 court order.

In an antitrust order last year, Microsoft was condemned to pay a fine of 497 million Euro for misusing their market dominating position in the operating system market. They sued, however they still had to fulfill the disclosure requirements of the order:

Microsoft has to disconnect Windows Media Player far enough from the core operating system so that competitors' products have a realistic chance to be used. Furthermore, they have to reveal exact and complete descriptions of Windows' interfaces in order for other products to communicate with the OS.

So far, they obviously have not made too much effort to do so (even though Microsoft's General Counsel claims so).

Maybe MS finally find out that it's not so much of a good idea to bug the EU rather than cooperate with it. As they might have guessed before, market dominating positions and cartels are much more regulated in the EU than for example in the US. Having a monopoly is considered to imply a great responsibility rather than just "being fun"; MS does not seem to acknowledge this yet. But, if they don't change their habits... they will be forced.

Sometimes, market regulations have a little weird effects. In this case, however, it could turn out to be beneficial for millions of people, not only in the EU but all over the world.

The case keeps being interesting...

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