Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

357 Million Little Clarifications

from the in-case-things-weren't-clear dept

The story of EU anti-trust regulators fining Microsoft approximately $357 million has been covered to death everywhere, but digging a little deeper raises some questions. Microsoft claims it delayed complying for so long because the specifics weren't made clear. This certainly sounds, to some, like a delaying tactic. If Microsoft just kept going back and asking for further clarifications, they could put off complying. Of course, on the other side of things, those in the world of politics don't always have the best reputation for actually understanding the technology they're trying to regulate -- which absolutely could lead to some confusion. Either way, it would appear that Microsoft now has another 357 million reasons to make sure they understand what the EU is asking of them -- though, from our end, we're still waiting for clarification on how the market has been harmed. Luckily, no one's fining us just yet.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2006 @ 11:30am

    what did they do wrong anyway?

    i thought it was cause of bundling media player but now im told its not

    in all the articles ive seen on it lately it never says what the hell they arent complying with, so i could defiantely see how they could be confused.., it seems so is everyone else, or someone might post what this matter is all over

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2006 @ 12:27pm


    What they did wrong was not be based in Europe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sohrab, 12 Jul 2006 @ 12:36pm

    I think its sad how bad people are after Microsoft. Ive been a PC user from Windows 95, hell we had windows 3.12? or whatever. and Also, 3 years ago, I bought my 1st PowerMac G5 (im loving it hehe) but to the point, ive never once fealt that I have to use one app or another from Microsoft.

    I never liked Windows Media Player and just clicked on Trusty WinAmp. Now ive moved towares iTunes. I still like IE fine on PC's but if i didnt, i could always get firefox.

    So suing microsoft for such things is retarded because other choices are just a click away!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    kantankerus, 12 Jul 2006 @ 12:43pm

    what would happen if:

    m$ pulled out of the EU entirely ???

    there is Linux, after all

    m$ should enter a disclaimer that they do not support anything other than the US

    then they [the EU] could fine a US company for not including them ! or maybe because m$ wil not put their programs in open source ?

    i am not a m$ cronnie or shill

    at some point, maybe even m$ will decide ehif is enuf
    and tell the EU to take a hike and ban their software

    some night, when i am bored, i will do what needs done to make linux [Mandriva] work with my SATA 3 hard drive

    then these issue become a moot point for me

    the vastness of m$ shows, once again, problems with the users

    Windows is not an Operating System as much as a computer environment, and widows is not required to use a computer or even the internet

    it just supposedly make it easier for the masses

    wasn't it an EU country that gaves us "Let them eat cake"

    and isnt the EU now firm believers that they can have their cake and eat it too ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jamz, 12 Jul 2006 @ 12:44pm

    Is it...

    "The fine was based on the landmark 2004 ruling, which, among other requirements, ordered Microsoft to share complete and accurate interoperability information with rival companies that develop workgroup server operating systems, as well as license those protocols at a reasonable cost."

    Not that it's crystal clear...and...

    "In April, the Commission's monitoring trustee, Neil Barrett, met with Microsoft. They developed a template for the software maker to enter batches of protocols and created a schedule of deadlines. The templates call for each protocol to start the same way, with a glossary, section on reference works, description of the protocol and how it relates to other protocols, Smith said."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ADH, 12 Jul 2006 @ 1:16pm

    This is crap...

    I'm not a lover of M$, but it seems to me that they should tell them to shove off and make their own damn OS. Microsoft should give them the finger, 357 million times.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Raekwon, 12 Jul 2006 @ 1:26pm

    More Bullsht!

    The only reasons that governments take these Anti-Trust laws so seriously is because nowadays, Governments ARE Corporations. Microsoft's success and growth make ruling bodies in the US uneasy. Bill Gates does a lot for charity and is an innovative thinker when it comes to the future of education, and dealing with world hunger. Sure, Microsoft might not make the best performing software, but I'd rather have Bill Gates for president anyday rather than Good Ol' Boy, G.W.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    geekwithsoul, 12 Jul 2006 @ 1:50pm

    Sounds like Microsoft and the W3C

    "If Microsoft just kept going back and asking for further clarifications, they could put off complying"

    Sounds like their excuses for not implementing CSS 2 in IE 6 and 7!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    wolff000, 12 Jul 2006 @ 1:52pm

    Governments Have Always Been Corporations

    From day one any government goes about the business of making money. Governements like corporations have alot of employees and alot of overhead. Taxes should take care of most of this but at least here in the US there is not enough oversight of where the money goes. This leads to massive amounts of money being wasted on frivilous items. This means the govs have to make more money. That's where all fines come from, parking tickets up to anti trust lawsuits. This fact doesn't mean these fines don't serve a purpose as well other than making money. They keep people in check out of fear of losing cash. How many people would drive over 80 MPH every where if they had no fear of a speeding ticket? I imagine it would be alot. Though some anti trusts suits may be bogus I think this one is valid. MS entered the European market being well aware of its laws and it chose not to follow them now they are being fined for it. Bottom line MS knew what they were doing and chose to continue instead of comply. If you do business in another country you follow those laws or don't do business there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2006 @ 1:55pm


    id rather have ANYONE over G.W.

    i feel bad for microsoft, they SHOULD tell the EU to go fuck themselves and pull out but then they would lose out on alot of sales over there, and also it would strengthen linux, and that strength would transfer over to other countries also

    the only thing holding linux back is that 3rd party vendors of hardware and software dont support it for SHIT because its cheaper and easier to just support windows, which is the most popular anyway

    thats why the linux comunity has to go to such lengths to support windows apps on linux (wine) and wrap windows drivers use use on linux (ndiswrapper)

    if MS moved out of europe linux would gain ALOT of support worldwide

    i dont like windows but i think what the EU is doing to MS is freaking laaame

    they are being punished for being too successful
    they are being forced to give out trade secrets and IP for being too successful
    and they are being forced to pay out over a billion dollars now? for being too successful

    630+ 357 + ~4 million a day.. thats overa billion in just a few days ;)

    guess this is the cost of being a successful international software company

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dug a Lug, 12 Jul 2006 @ 2:03pm

    We will all pay

    Don't worry too much about Microsoft.

    Worry more about how much more we will pay for our Microsoft products to cover this lawsuit.

    Don't count on anything that the french had their hands in. They screwed up measurements with their stupid metric system, this suit is BS like the rest of the EU poppycock.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Stunned European, 12 Jul 2006 @ 2:28pm


    Yes, I am stunned. Stunned at the number of people who post "MS should give the EU the finger" and "MS should pull all their services from the EU" and "MS should ban al european software" type comments...

    MS knew exactly what they needed to do and knew exactly what the consequences could be. So why in the world would anyone think they should not be fined for not complying? Why is MS all of a sudden above the law? Think about it... if you get several warnings because what you are doing is not complying with a certain law and fines could be imposed because of it... would you expect NOT to be fined if you didn't comply?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I, for one, 12 Jul 2006 @ 2:30pm

    Ban non-compliant products from sale

    Fines are useless. The purpose of the fines is not revenue generation, but to punish Microsoft. How can you punish a corporation that has so much money? Hundreds of millions are just fiddling small change that they laugh at.

    The only way to crack the whip at Microsoft is to ban them sales territory. Microsoft products that do not meet EU requirements should be banned from sale in those territories. Microsoft have plenty of other products, both hardware and software, so it's something they could cope with.

    Fining them money is nothing more than a show.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2006 @ 3:16pm

    Simple enough for MS

    How wonder how much that will increase MS product prices in the EU?

    MS will consider that amount as the cost of doing business and added to the cost of the product. MS will still make the same profit levels as before.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ET, 12 Jul 2006 @ 3:19pm

      Re: Simple enough for MS

      You are probably right... even though their software prices are already ridiculously high for the crap they sell...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    kantankerus, 12 Jul 2006 @ 6:51pm

    you want to see stunned europeans ???

    let the m$ home office [in the US] decide they don't want to play anymore and bring the ball home with them [to the US]

    i have my own issues with m$, and doubt seriously i will move to VISTA when it is available. Mandriva is my favored flavor of linux, which I don't believe is a US corp [Mandriva].

    The EU is nothing in my life. I will live my entire life within the continental US [hey, AC, I am from Pittsburgh,].

    m$ did what m$ always does. Tried to strong arm the EU powers. It should have stayed within the US.

    Throughout history, different parts of the world have developed technologies that are more dominant to their cultures.

    why should m$ be singled out instead of Ford Motor Corp [i hate these stupid car thinggies].

    Sorry, EU...your significance is watered down when you cross the ocean.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    nephesh, 12 Jul 2006 @ 8:14pm


    I could be wrong (been awhile since I read up on this topic) but I believe the whole deal is about interopability in networking. Microsoft took some networking standards, used them for their benefit and then slightly modified the standard so that their product would not work with other unmodified products that are also running the same standard. This means groups like the samba team have had to reverse engineer microsofts networking technology to be able to build interoperable systems with them.

    Reverse engineering is extremely time consuming and a waste of a lot of money when a programmer should be able to look up a standard, program around it, and have their product be interoperable with any other program that is also based upon that standard.

    From what I understand Microsoft has been known to make slight adjustments to their code to break interoperability with others also. Whether it was a mistake or on purpose it has the same outcome.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      mkam, 13 Jul 2006 @ 4:48am

      Re: Microsoft

      Remember J++? The MS version of Java with slight adjustments (oh I'm sorry 'improvements') to make it inoperable.
      I can see that corporate meeting.
      Hey lets take this language that is gain popularity due to the fact that it works on every platform and make it only work on MS products. Step 2: profit!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jeff, 13 Jul 2006 @ 1:48pm

    French Fried OS

    I think the EU version of MS should be a few 5.25" diskettes of Windows 1.0. Sure it's feature limited, but that's all they need in Europe anyway. If they don't like it, let 'em struggle with the US version.

    That and they need to change the US version so that anytime the user picks "francais" as the default language, well, then it should automatically reformat the user's hard drive as a security measure. Why? Because I'm still ticked off at the French government making us fly several extra hundred air miles in 1986 to bomb Libya. And because I'm sick of having to read things in two languages on any Gillette product. So yeah, to achee-double-hockey sticks with the Canadian French bozos too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      a French Bastard, 13 Jul 2006 @ 3:40pm

      Re: French Fried OS

      At least the Windows version on the 5.25" disks was stable and didn't have nearly as many bugs in it... Oh and we do not struggle with the US version... unlike you egotistical pigs, we know how to speak, read and write languages which are not native to our country.

      And if you don't like to read things in two languages on products, get out of your oh-so-f*#!ing precious 50 states sh!thole... your country is only a pubic hair away from being run by your Southern neighbors (I hear you're getting so scared and sh!tfaced a fence is in order). Or just switch brands... oh wait.. there's no 100% USA made product out there anymore. Gee, I wonder why.


      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lyle Holmes, 15 Jul 2006 @ 11:03am

    Market Harmed by Microsoft

    In the mid-80's I built a Novel network w/ approx. eighty 286-PCs connected to two IBM (?) 386 "servers." We built the machines. Populated the memory boards w/ a dozen memory chips to enable, what, 256k of memory? At that same time we could go to the local Egghead computer shop and select from one of twenty prgrams for word processing, twenty more for spreadsheets, dozens of other options for a variety of software solutions. Today? It's one of three flavors of Office -- and hope they don't pull support in five years. They are a monopoly. They have killed innovation in certain areas because no one can complete with them. They use that OS and Word/Excel monopoly to leverage their efforts in other areas. They chase away competitors just by entering a maket. MS spends more on RD (w/ monopoly dollars) than most small companies earn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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