May 11, 2005 10:50 AM PDT

Europe: Time running out for Microsoft

Related Stories

In Europe, patent olive branch--or threat?

March 9, 2005
Microsoft is under growing pressure to comply quickly with the European Commission's year-old antitrust ruling, an EU representative said on Wednesday.

The commission's competition representative said that if the matter is not resolved within a matter of weeks, it may fine Microsoft a significant sum of money.

"Our patience is in terms of weeks rather than months," said the representative. "They've had over a year now. Microsoft knows that if they don't comply to our satisfaction, we can fine them up to five percent of their (daily global) turnover every day."

He said that Microsoft was aware of the specific date by which it must comply with the ruling, but the EC has decided not to publicize the date as a "negotiation tactic."

The initial antitrust ruling, delivered on March 24, 2004, demanded that Microsoft disclose information to rival server-software makers that would allow them to design products compatible with Windows. The commission also required Microsoft to offer a version of Windows without Windows Media Player, so that other media-software makers could more fairly compete in the market.

The EC rejected Microsoft's proposed solution to the server interoperability in March this year, citing four concerns. One of its main objections was the high level of royalties that Microsoft had proposed, the representative said. "The level of royalties should reflect the degree of innovation in the product, rather than (Microsoft's) monopoly power," the representative said.

Although Microsoft announced last month that it had addressed the majority of the Commission's concerns in this area, the EC representative said the European body was still talking to the software giant "concerning the proper implementation of the interoperability remedy." There are also issues regarding the version of Windows without Media Player that are yet to be resolved, the representative said.

A Microsoft representative declined to comment on the deadline that the EC has imposed or the company's work toward complying with the ruling.

"I wouldn't want to talk about timing or what the dialogue is about," the Microsoft representative said. "We continue to work diligently and quickly to resolve the outstanding issues."

The EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes met Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at the end of April to discuss the software giant's failure to comply with the ruling. Kroes said Microsoft must comply with the decision "urgently and in full."

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.

13 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Does anyone really think...
... that MS gives a damn?

MS has become a legend in their own mind, and mere mortals
aren't qualified to judge or to complain about anything MS does
or says.

So the EU can just shove their decision. MS will stone wall until
the very last minute and then flood the field with out of work
lawyers to see just how screwed up they can get the EU courts.

And in the end, Ol' Bill will remain unperturbed on top of his pile
of 50 billions dollars.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microoft & EU
I think Microsoft should stop selling their software to Europe. That should satisfy the courts.
Posted by bryant--2008 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Innovation
If the EU / EC feel that there is not enough innovation in the product for the set royalties then let the other companies just reverse engineer them. Or better yet, let the EU / EC do it themself. They are being unfair and unreasonalble. It is one thing to force someone to sell something, but to object to the price is a bit harsh. I doubt that Microsoft are asking for 1 Billion dollars. It is probably just a few million and you can't blame Microsoft after already spending a 1/2 billion on fines.
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I got a question
What if MS Just ignored them totally (Didn't pay any fines that EU threw at them), What would happen?
Posted by simcity1976 (136 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The EC would have a b**ch fit
Chances are they would keep slapping down fines on the European corporation version of Microsoft until it either changes its ways or stops selling the software in Europe.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Link Flag
Weird...
Don't understand it, perhaps anyone can try to explain it to me without falling back to patriotic rhetoric.

You have a corporation that is a convicted monopolist by US courts. Out of the conviction came a settlement that implied a change of behavior of MS. One can argue about the effectiveness of the settlement, but that is a different matter.

Then you have the same corporation that is again convicted for that same behavior by the EU commission. This commission has the same jurisdiction in this matter as the US court.
In this case the conviction is followed by a fine, a change in behavior, and a deadline. MS went over the deadline to comply.
However, when reading all comments, apparently MS should be allowed to run free.

Dont get it. As far as I can tell, in every justice system in the world, when a convicted criminal is not complying with his punishment, the authorities go after him. Why should this case be treaded any different?

In my opinion, the EU has shown a lot of patience, but you know how it goes with patience, dont stretch it.

And to Bryant Minard, I am sure the shareholders of MS would like a move like that.
Posted by Steven N (487 comments )
Reply Link Flag
KMM19105443V48365L0KM
... from MS's position. They haven't done anything wrong. All
they did was 'innovate' every else's ideas and weld the MS
versions into the OS so they can't be removed. Then they
advertise that you don't need to buy any competitor's product
since MS already has it installed. Then they try to tell everyone
that this is a good thing because it is the MS way.

So when some flakey little court in Europe tries to fine them for
this brilliant approach, MS is well within their rights to tell this
flakey little court to F*** O**.

After all, it worked in the US , didn't it?
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
You have to see it...
... from MS's position. They haven't done anything wrong. All
they did was 'innovate' every else's ideas and weld the MS
versions into the OS so they can't be removed. Then they
advertise that you don't need to buy any competitor's product
since MS already has it installed. Then they try to tell everyone
that this is a good thing because it is the MS way.

So when some flakey little court in Europe tries to fine them for
this brilliant approach, MS is well within their rights to tell this
flakey little court to F*** O**.

After all, it worked in the US , didn't it?
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Conviction
I think that the competitors to Microsoft bought the conviction, and I for one don't trust the EU knows any more about technology than the US politicians. I don't believe that ANY government has the right to tell a company on how they should build their products. I think that what the EC found was bought by people that could not develop products better than what Microsoft could develop simply because they don't put any money into research and development.
Posted by bigjim01 (75 comments )
Link Flag
Would someone please explain something?
Exactly which point or points of the order has MS failed to follow. None of the stories have bothered to inform us of exactly what the EU sees as the remaining problem (or problems).

I know previously the EU objected to MS's proposed name for the "compliant" edition of Windows but MS allowed the EU to propose their own name for that edition so what are the remaining problems (other than the obvious fact that nobody wants to buy that incomplete version).
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft needs to the the EC to stuff it
I think that the EC should just try to develop software in the way that Microsoft does, and then they might have a chance of getting what they want from themselves in about 200 years. I really think that Microsoft needs to tell the EC to grow up and need to get reasonable. I am glad that our government has not been so stupid as to force something that really is not an issue. If I were Microsoft, I would say that since my company headquartered in the United States, that the EC MUST seek remidies in the United States courts and would find that they are not subject to foreign laws.
Posted by bigjim01 (75 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.