December 22, 2005 4:21 AM PST

Europe threatens Microsoft with daily fines

The European Commission issued Microsoft a warning on Thursday that it could face a retroactive fine of up to $2.37 million a day for failing to comply with its antitrust order, based on its preliminary review.

The European Union's executive arm noted that the clock started ticking Dec. 15 and will continue until it makes its final decision in the landmark case against the software giant.

Microsoft was ordered by the Commission in March 2004 to disclose complete and accurate interface documentation to work group server competitors, in order for them to have full interoperability with Windows PCs and servers. That order was part of the Commission's findings that the software giant allegedly abused its market dominance to increase its presence in the work group, server operating system and media player industries.

The Commission, which held discussions with Microsoft about its compliance with its order and hired a trustee to monitor the company's compliance, set a Dec. 15 deadline for meeting the stipulations of its order. That order required Microsoft to supply complete and accurate interoperability information, making its software available on reasonable terms.

"I have given Microsoft every opportunity to comply with its obligations. However, I have been left with no alternative other than to proceed via the formal route to ensure Microsoft's compliance," Neelie Kroes, European competition commissioner, said in a statement.

Microsoft has five weeks to respond to the Commission's statement of objections. The Commission, which will consult with the advisory committees of member state competition authorities, would then issue a decision on whether to impose its fine of up to $2.37 million a day on Microsoft. The fine will be retroactively applied to Dec. 15 and the date that the Commission reaches a final decision on whether Microsoft has complied with its order.

Microsoft said it plans to contest the Commission's statement of objections and request an oral hearing on the issue.

"We believe today's statement of objections is unjustified. The Commission has issued this statement regarding technical documentation we submitted last week, even though, by its own admission, neither it nor the trustee have even

CONTINUED: Microsoft's concerns…
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62 comments

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Reallly
Who the hell MS think they are?? How many warnings do you want before you listen? Even though I've never paid (and NEVER will) a penny for their "software", I'm starting to dislike this company more everytime I read an article about them.
Posted by City_Of_LA (118 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Grow up.
It's just business as usual. In case of M$ it's also bit of politics too.

They have money to play such games. After all, compliance with court order in long term might cost more.
Posted by Philips (400 comments )
Link Flag
Unfair?
There are many large successful corporations that are currently reaping the rewards of their hard work, careful planning and passion to succeed. We all have an opportunity to apply our drive in the same manner. Bill Gates and MS should not now be penalized because others cannot compete!
www.nopieinthesky.net
Posted by nopieinthesky (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
funny
I would laugh at your comments if they were not so sad and uninformed.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
You got that right
I'm in the financial services industry, we have around 30,000 users from 2 countries. I've got a great job, with great benefits, good pay, our stock rises steadily, we're well respected in a very competitive industry and we are continually growing. We've been using Windows since 3.1. If we were to believe all the crap that is written in the tech media articles and comments about Microsoft, we should have been dead and buried years ago.
Posted by robertcampbell2 (103 comments )
Link Flag
Damn Europeeeoons
Give us a break EU. Microsofts Server Protocols are largely documented and easy to conform with using other platforms. Samba, MSRPC, CIFS, Workgroups Server, Sharepoint, and on and on and on...Note to the EU Commision on Steeling money from rich american companies "TCP/IP is a standard protocol for sending and receiving data over a network. It allows any computer (windows or not) to talk to one another. Just in case they've never heard of this widespread protocol. In other words. I've created programs on Linux and Mac that communicate just fine with MS Servers. The documentation is thorough and easy to understand from a programmatic perspective. This is BS. Typical 80's Euro-Trash, trying to make some bucks off of the big guy.

I would refer the EU Judge *cough* "Gavel Jockey" to <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/legal/eudecision/" target="_newWindow">http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/legal/eudecision/</a>
Posted by SystemsJunky (409 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Great, put in writing then
&gt; Microsofts Server Protocols are largely documented and easy &gt; to conform with using other platforms. Samba, MSRPC, CIFS, &gt; Workgroups Server, Sharepoint, and on and on and on.

Great, if is documented then Microsoft has no reason to be delaying releasing it...it's public knowledge, right? They should have no problem in releasing it officially next week...

Are you on crack? Read the Samba developement list, Microsoft is always changing things and only notifing "partners" about the changes. It can take Samba weeks/months to figure out what changed with the latest service/security update.

It's been one year, and Microsoft is "still working" on releasing documentation as per U.S Anti-trust ruling...they are delaying the information since they only want businesses to implement software which is Microsoft approved. If they delay a few more years, more business will be locked into Microsoft based solutions. Once business are locked in, it's very costly to change...that's their main arguement why Windows has lower TCO than Linux...too costly to migrate Office files and interface with Windows based infrasture....
Posted by 1234sparky (2 comments )
Link Flag
What about the other software?
I doubt the judge even considered ordering the other server software maker to relinquish code so microsoft could make its software more compatable with it. As you can see it's not a 2 way street here.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Reply Link Flag
why?
MS has no desire to make its software compatible with anything.

Besides most other software makers that have programs that other communicate with already have published details.

Try to keep up
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
software maker to relinquish code
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/jaguar_xj6_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/jaguar_xj6_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
This European Union Court Order for Microsoft....
... "to provide interface documentation to allow rivals' group servers to work with the company's ubiquitous Windows operating system" is one more reason that should allow for the release of the IBM's OS/2 Warp Client and the OS/2 Warp eBusiness Server Source-Codes to the Open-Source Community in all fairness to the OS/2 OEMs.
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
O/S 2??
OS2? Thats even more legacy than Linux! Who cares about the source code.

I assume then following the EU logic that Apple should be required to produce a 'Media Playerless' version of the Ipod as they are clearly budling it with software that displays photos and a hard disk, to the detriment of competitiors!
Posted by richto (895 comments )
Link Flag
what about the ERP Giant SAP
I would love to see the source code for SAP made completely public. There is more money in a single implementation of an ERP then in any of the workgroup or enterprise file server's. If we want to look at those with a massive monopoly look at SAP. Over 50% of the ERP implementations are SAP and each of these costs in the Millions.
O sorry they are based in Europe so they are exempt from the Anti Monopoly Rules.
Posted by navops (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Differences between MS and SAP.
You stated SAP has about 50% market share, and Microsoft has about 95% market share.

Microsoft was declared a monopoly by the U.S. D.O.J., and (AFAIK) SAP was not.

Microsoft is not being asked to publish source code. They're being asked to publish the interface specs between product A and product B, so that product B competitors can compete in that market. Without that information, there is no product B competition. Using a product A market monopoly to eliminate competion in a product B market is a violation of antitrust law.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Link Flag
The source code is available since version 1
If you read SAP proprietary programming language (abit of Cobol + C + basic), the source code has been there ever since the first release.
Posted by fleek (1 comment )
Link Flag
Hey EU export software not litigation please
It seems that the EU is becoming more litigious than the US. This bunch of inept bureaucrats isn't going to help the European consumer. I'd love to see the EU actually deliver some software instead of mucking with US companies. That's what consumers really need.
Posted by xyzzxy (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: Mucking with US companies."
Microsoft is not a "US company". They are a global company with offices and customers all over the world.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.microsoft.com/worldwide/" target="_newWindow">http://www.microsoft.com/worldwide/</a>

If you want to play in their sandbox, you need to follow their rules.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Link Flag
A better approach for the EU...
Would be to require MS to follow standards rather
than forcing them to publish their proprietary
extensions. In the end, their extensions are
inferior and lock the consumer in. The ODF, XHTML,
CSS and HTML are good examplesn of industry
standards that MS has a hard or impossible time
following, which if they followed, would make a huge
difference. Force the monopoly to play by the rules
rather than forcing them to publish their rules
which they can change the moment they publish them.
Posted by Johnny Mnemonic (374 comments )
Reply Link Flag
EU should go Stick It
The European Union is an utter failure in socialist welfare state. In the past 25 years, the United States has created over 57 million new jobs to the EU nations 4 million.

Since they can't seem to get money from their own highly overtaxed citizens, they want to steal money from a successful American company.

If you want to compete against MS, come up with something better. If Europeans are too stupid to download their mediaplayer of choice, they shouldn't be allowed to use computers! Making MS release a version that has one is utterly stupid.
Posted by ejryder3 (39 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This may all well be true....
But it's in the category of 'So What???' The EU stood up and told
MS that their business practices were monopolistic and illegal.
The US courts never could figure that out. Some say MS bribery.
ie., financial lobbying, was involved, others say the judges
weren't smart enough in evaluating business practices. Still
others say that MS bought up enough of the plaintiffs to weaken
the case. Whatever. The American people had no problem seeing
what and how MS was doing. Only the EU courts had the courage
to stand up and smack MS where it hurts, the pocketbook.

Maybe the EU is a general failure. They are an outstanding
success in the case.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Re: Stealing from an American company
Microsoft is not an "American company". They are a global company with offices and customers all over the world.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.microsoft.com/worldwide/" target="_newWindow">http://www.microsoft.com/worldwide/</a>

I assume Microsoft is free to pull out of Europe at any time.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Link Flag
Wow!
Finally someone with the huevos to stand up to M$. IMPRESSIVE!
Posted by Mister C (423 comments )
Reply Link Flag
IMPRESSIVE
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/mercedes_sl_class_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/mercedes_sl_class_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
MS announces no more European sales...
and that they are also exercising their rights hidden within the EULA's of their products and are cancelling all European licenses of MS products. EU tells citizens and businesses that their PC's are now Paper Weights but at least the continent has been ridden of the evil and vile MS.....

--and before you Linux peeps start up... yes they could all install linux and turn those paper weights 'back on' WITHOUT MS software
lol
Posted by The user with no name (259 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That would be an iinteresting experiment.
It would be a good threat, but I doubt MS can just "cancel" existing license agreements and make Windows/Office/IE disappear in Europe. But they could probably refuse any new licenses. I bet Apple and the Linux software vendors would love that.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Link Flag
EXACTLY !
&gt;&gt; MS announces no more European sales...

Exactly! Tell 'em where to go!

Of course M$ can't cancel licenses for users that have paid for thier software, but they could close the European M$ offices. Then, there would be no way for the EU to enforce the fines. (I don't think M$ would pay if North Korea or Cuba fined them a few million a day!)

People would still "smuggle-in" copies. :)

I'm not a big M$ fan, but I'm even less a fan of big government!
Posted by DougDbug (62 comments )
Link Flag
Cool
This would the best move they could do.

It would give such a boost to us! First we will have a lot of work moving everything away from MS, and after that we aould all become much more efficient in our jobs. Just think about it, no more whining users complaining about outlook fuss, or bluescreens... (NOT being sarcastic here)

Must be the time of year, I am musing of a better world...
Posted by Steven N (487 comments )
Link Flag
MS software lol
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/lexus_ls_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/lexus_ls_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
I despise M$ but...
..what exactly have they done wrong? First let me say that I am
a bigtime MacAddict. Secondly is the EU asking for disclosure
from other software companies? Don't give some BS about how
M$ is squeezing out other businesses because back in 1995
people were saying, "oh Apple is going to go Bankrupt". Guess
what? They didn't! I agree with the previous poster. I am not a
fan of a Foreign Agency trying to tell a U.S. Company what to do.
As far as I am concerned the EU can mind it's own business in
Europe and leave U.S. Business to the U.S. Government.

For you bleeding hearts out there: "If the EU gets away with this
and M$ complies and pays for it, what's to stop them from going
after other U.S. companies?"
Posted by cooldogjones (53 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Must agree...
... with this opinion. EU is not asking other companies to do the same thing as they are asking MS. Sure MS has engaged in aggressive business practices but what large corporation has not flexed its muscles from time to time. What keeps them in check is the market, which is driven by the consumers, not the courts or government. As the consumers yearn for something that suits there needs the market will shift to accomindate. Take a look at all the companies that have open-source product or are complying with standards. Its not a government or a court that is driving it. The EU like all governments should stay out of things that leveling the playing field in a market, because they are just concern about their bottom line not the consumers.
Posted by VI Joker (231 comments )
Link Flag
okay guys
you gotta remeber 1 Major thing

of all the MEDIA players Mediaplayer is the most liked cause #1 they do allow other people to make codecs for mediaplayer. Mplayer is another example of a media player that does this. i can go to a website and download a codec for media player if realplayer or apple lets other people do this they would do much better. you can download any codec from websites and not have to wait for Real or apple to realise the codec
i use OOB for anime movies there is none for real player

with apple and realplayer you can only get the codecs from their server and you have to pay for their software (apple has a free but its not full)
Posted by darkr (97 comments )
Reply Link Flag
anime movies
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/volvo_v70_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/volvo_v70_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
This is not only about the EU and MS
It is about MS monopoly and the World.
Please read the EU pdf that you can find using a searh like Google and the text:
Case COMP/C-3/37.792
for the pdf.
It is a well written text about MS and its abuse of its monopoly state.
It schould have been written in the USA but the US DoJ simply screwed it up.
Posted by lgmbackman (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft a Monopoly?
In spite of its conviction, I simply don't see MS as a monopoly.There are so many OS's out there. People who use macs do just fine. Linux is free and comes with thousands dollars worth of applications if one had to buy equivalent close source ones. Most ms Offices filles formats have been reverse engeniered. they should just get off of the back of ms and let the market place deal with this. Sun and Oracle were in much better shape in circa 97---2000 up to the bust. All that was way before microsoft conviction. I believe that if it wasn't for microsoft distribution, java would never have met the success it has today; and that was a business deal, not a court order ms followed. if you can not interoperate with their servers, buy another brand. osx as a server that works fine. a company can go all apple and unix. it's nothing like your electric or water company whith whom you've got no choice. and look at the oss movement complaining that the licenses are too expensive and don't comply with their philosopy. then either change your philosophy or don't use their protocols. don't force them to give them to you for free when they are paying people to code.
Posted by Pascoli (74 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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