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.