October 16, 2006 11:40 AM PDT

Did Microsoft get lucky in Europe?

The European Commission has refused to sanction Microsoft's release of Vista in Europe, but several members of the European Parliament are relieved that the product apparently wasn't blocked completely.

On Friday, Microsoft said it will allow security software makers to access the kernel of 64-bit versions of Vista for security-monitoring purposes. The company will also make it possible for security companies to disable certain parts of the Windows Security Center in Vista when a third-party security console is installed. Microsoft said it had decided to take these actions to try to allay Commission antitrust concerns, and also vowed to ship Vista in Europe at the same time as the rest of the world.

In response, the Commission issued a statement Friday warning that Microsoft's actions didn't mean Vista would not infringe European laws.

"The Commission has not given a 'green light' to Microsoft to deliver Vista because," the Commission said, "as the Commission has consistently stated, Microsoft must shoulder its own responsibilities to ensure that Vista is fully compliant with EC Treaty competition rules and in particular with the principles laid down in the March 2004 Commission antitrust decision concerning Microsoft (XP)."

Still, several members of the European Parliament welcomed the EC's apparent restraint. In a joint statement, Chris Heaton-Harris, Peter Skinner and Sharon Bowles--U.K. members in the European Parliament--said that EC concerns could have delayed the release of Vista in Europe, to the detriment of small businesses.

"It was our understanding from what contact we've had with them that the EC were going to stop the launch of Vista," a representative for Bowles said. "The statement by the EC (on Friday) wasn't prohibitive."

Small and midsize businesses in Europe have expressed concerns that their businesses could be hurt if Vista were further delayed, the representative added.

Heaton-Harris met with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at the company's campus in Seattle in August, after which he criticized the Commission's decision to fine Microsoft for antitrust violations in 2004. "I really can't understand the Commission's position. It is as if they objected to Ford supplying cars with tires since this reduces the market for retrofitted tires," Heaton-Harris said.

In 2004, the Commission found that Microsoft had breached anticompetition laws and ordered the company to disclose server interoperability details and cease bundling Windows Media Player with XP.

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.

See more CNET content tagged:
commission, antitrust, Europe, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Corp.

14 comments

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SPORTS IS KING!
That this article has stated that; "several members of the European Parliament welcomed the EC's apparent restraint" with regards to antitrust concerns about the release of "Vista in Europe at the same time as the rest of the world" in addition to the report that "Small and midsize businesses in Europe have expressed concerns that their businesses could be hurt if Vista were further delayed", which the representatives added are but one part of the VISTA era; another part of this story would be the concern of the millions and millions "International Cricket Fans" around the world who would not want to miss the chance to see the "first" ball bowled from the comfort of their computer screens come World Cup Cricket 2007.

How about Microsoft with its "deep" pockets chartering a few "CONCORDE (not AIRBUS 380) FLIGHTS" to the Caribbean for Chris Heaton-Harris, Peter Skinner and Sharon Bowles--U.K. members in the European Parliament and interested members of the EU Commission to see WORLD CUP CRICKET 2007 and include a "video-camera crew" so that the matches can be "streamed" to the rest of world. That would not hurt Microsoft pockets and the issues would be settled, wouldn't they!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How could delaying Vista hurt small businesses?
How could delaying Vista hurt small to mid sized businesses? If anything it would be of great benefit to the small and mid sized businesses. Any business that installs a first generation operating system is asking for trouble. The best thing the EU could do for there people would be a one year delay in Vista's European release so us stupid Americans could find all the bugs for them.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Link Flag
buying in Europe
Wouldn't the european people be willing to buy windows from the United States? I am sure we are willing to sell and ship computers and software to Europe.
Posted by Phred15 (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Me
I would be willing to. Hope they don't decide to make the next Windows come without Windows Explorer.
Posted by Ryo Hazuki (378 comments )
Link Flag
Is MS insane?
This is ridiculous is Microsoft insane. I change the chip in one of my systems and windows xp decided it was a new machine and I needed to call in the COA! That's not that bad now every time other time I change a part i need a new COA? What constitutes a new machine? I am calling for a boycott of windows vista - i have RC-1 and I have always been a big Microsoft proponent. When Symantec and Mcafee called foul I said too bad - but now? I am officially adopting the free shareware Linux based ubuntu. Bill Gates is giving is money away and then he does this? Is he insane?

Microsoft needs new management - or a new owner -or I need a new OS!

What is the definition of a new machine? Right now almost any small changes invokes violation with WGA and hardware checker.
Posted by dragonsprayer (16 comments )
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OR Is Europe lucky by blocking Vista??
If the EU can just drag the antitrust matter on long enough maybe they will miss the initial onslaught of security holes in Vista.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
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Europe Can Suck a Lemon....
I wish MS would just decide to not release Vista or any future OS updates or new apps there. Let's see hoew they get by then...I'm fedup with Eurdope...Get lost
Posted by sandstorm27 (8 comments )
Link Flag
Europe Can Suck a Lemon....
I wish MS would just decide to not release Vista or any future OS updates or new apps there. Let's see how they get by then...I'm fed up with Eurdope...Get lost
Posted by sandstorm27 (8 comments )
Link Flag
OR Yet another Microsoft-basher??
Maybe you could earn some money telling Microsoft about those security holes you already know and noone else seems to know about.
Posted by Ryo Hazuki (378 comments )
Link Flag
Anti trust sounds like another word for tax
I object when governments deem that because a company is willing to provide all the bells and whistles in one package that that is anti competitive and tax them and hold all of Europe to ransom on threats that are neither clear nor logical. I the consumer can make up my own mind if I want a media player from Microsoft or a **** poor Real Player that wants me to subscribe to get the features that are free with the MS media player

I understand that not everybody likes all that Microsoft offers and even I am starting to get annoyed with some Microsoft products myself, however I have the choice to change or use other products like I have with Thunderbird and Fire Fox, can't Europeans make their own decisions or do they need an ideological government to line the pockets of the non competitive companies that see this as a way to push their products upon us.

Also I fail to understand how Apples behavior with ITUNES and the IPOD is also not anti competitive, but I suppose in a world run by politicians we really do get what we deserve.
Posted by rorybaust (17 comments )
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