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Microsoft may face crippling EU fines

updated 01:35 pm EDT, Mon April 23, 2007

Microsoft vs. the EU

Although already sanctioned with multi-million-dollar fines by the European Union, Microsoft could soon start bleeding that amount daily, warns EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes. Microsoft is accused of artificially inflating the price of its Workgroup Server Protocol Program; this, says the EU, is discouraging competitors from producing their own server software. Reuters reports that Microsoft has so far refused to lower prices, citing a need for "greater clarity" on what a reasonable price would be. If the two sides are unable to come to an agreement, Microsoft could fined as much as 3 million ($4 million) daily, laying waste to the company's profits.

This is not the first confrontation Microsoft has had with the EU. In January the company agreed to change the content of the first Service Pack for Windows Vista, so that third-party developers could access the same OS layers as Microsoft; the release will also strip away Windows Media Player (as built-in) and add more control over search engines in Internet Explorer. In 2004 the EU fined Microsoft 497 million ($678 million), on the basis that the company was not sharing information other server makers needed. The decision is still in an appeals process.

Another solution proposed by Kroes is restructuring. In theory this could see the creation of one or more separate businesses, as a judge of the US Justice Department attempted to order in 2000. That decision was eventually thrown out however, and Kroes has not argued for any particular plans to be put forward.



By Electronista Staff
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  1. darkelf

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2003

    0

    huh?

    the EU thinks that artificially inflated prices discourages competitors? wtf?

  1. mgpalma

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2000

    0

    Workgroup Server Protocol

    This is the program that supposedly gives other access to MS technology so they can make competing products that can co-exist with actual MS software. So I am guessing MS is charging too much for access to be realistic for others to actually compete.

  1. bhuot

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2003

    0

    ineffective

    Charging Microsoft millions of dollars a day is like charging $.05 for an overdue library book and equally ineffective. What they need to do is outlaw Microsoft products from the EU.

  1. eldarkus

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2004

    0

    re: ineffective

    the stock holders might not share the same view. And if they start selling MS stock in droves... that could become quite hurtful!

    yes, $4 million fine to a 44 billion $$ company isnt that much.. but it certainly chips away at the profits. And investors want to see profits!!

  1. notehead

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    is this fair?

    I have no love for Microsoft or for monopolistic practices, but who is forcing these European companies to use a MS operating system? It's ridiculous for the EU to tell MS what to charge. If the price is too high, then customers can find another solution. Somebody out there will be clever enough to offer another way into MS tech, or else they can go with Macs or Linux or something else.

  1. bigmig

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2004

    0

    huh?

    "I have no love for Microsoft or for monopolistic practices, but who is forcing these European companies to use a MS operating system?"

    You are confused - the European companies are not charging the fines, the governments are. As sovereign governments, they can do whatever they like - that's the whole point of sovereignty.

    Of course, Microsoft is under no obligation to do business in Europe. If they don't like the conditions, they can choose to leave - nobody is stopping them. Both sides are perfectly free to exercise their freedoms.

  1. Feathers

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Oct 1999

    0

    understand first!

    Can't believe that most of the above commentators don't get the point. The licensing of the server protocol is so that companies can use multiple platforms and applications to interface with M$ based servers just like all the other server protocols that exist. You can't expect enterprise level organisations with significant investment in existing software, networks, servers etc.to shift everything over to effectively what would be M$ only. What 3rd party developers, particularly those in highly bespoke and marginal areas require is non punitive licensed access to the protocol so that everything that is already installed within an organisation can play nice together. Such protocols are commonly licensed F.O.C. It is Microsoft who are breaking ranks with computing industry conventions and trying to force the use of MS middleware on enterprises by financially punishing developers.

  1. boleric

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2007

    0

    Breaking rules

    If a company feels another company is breaking agreements or rules they take them to court. This is no different. MS is breaking antitrust laws so the government is taking them to court. Whats the big deal. MS is always pushing the limits its nice when someone pushes back. All protocols and file formats should be open source/open standards then you would see real competition within the software community.

  1. hayesk

    Professional Poster

    Joined: Sep 1999

    0

    Cameras

    The whole camera thing is overblown as dishonest employees would sneak tiny cameras in anyway. The rule should be no photography, not no cameras.

    But if that's the rule, that's the rule. Although, if you could removed the camera, that may help. Palm, Apple and others should investigate making a phone where the camera can be unscrewed and replaced with an opaque plug for taking to work in places that don't allow cameras.

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