July 12, 2006 1:18 PM PDT

Trade groups pick sides in EU-Microsoft battle

Industry trade groups weighed in Wednesday on the European Commission's decision to levy a historic $357 million antitrust fine against Microsoft.

The organizations fell into two camps in their opinion of the penalty imposed on Microsoft for noncompliance with the Commission's 2004 antitrust order to share and license protocol information with rivals. One side said the move will discourage U.S. businesses in Europe, while the other said it sets a precedent that will help smaller software companies.

Americans for Technology Leadership, which lists Microsoft as a founding member, expressed concern that the Commission's action will dampen technology companies' desire to seek a market-leading role in Europe. It also said the ruling will lead to uncertainty on businesses' part about how to work with European regulators.

News.com Poll

The EU has hit Redmond with a multimillion-dollar fine--again. What effect will that have in the antitrust saga?

None. It didn't work the first time, and the company's got money to burn.
A little. It'll keep some programmers busy making tweaks to code that won't make much difference.
Plenty. Microsoft will finally have to deliver the goods, and soon.

View results

"All American companies doing business in Europe should be concerned," Jim Prendergast, the executive director of Americans for Technology Leadership, said in a statement. "This development makes clear that successful American companies will face a higher regulatory standard in Europe and that their entire global business strategy may be hostage to the whims of a few European regulators."

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), a third-party intervener that testified during a Microsoft and European Commission hearing in April, echoed those comments and described the Commission's fines as "arbitrary and capricious."

On the other side, the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) and the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS), praised the regulatory body for pursuing the issue, stressing the benefit to third-party software makers.

"The precedent set by this case will be vital for the viability of future software products likewise dependent on full interoperability with Microsoft's interlocking monopoly systems," Thomas Vinje, legal counsel for ECIS, said in a statement.

The SIIA, meanwhile, said it hoped that Microsoft's interoperability documentation would be "forthcoming promptly."

ECIS, whose membership includes a number of Microsoft competitors, from Oracle to Sun Microsystems to RealNetworks, filed a complaint with the Commission in February over making sure third-party software would be fully interoperable with Microsoft Office.

In the antitrust case, Microsoft faces a drop-dead deadline of July 24 to deliver the last set of protocols to the European Commission, which is then expected to take another six weeks to vet out the accuracy and completeness of the material.

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The EU....
just wants to syphon money out of the USA. And they're attempting to do so through Microsoft.
Posted by Bobman (114 comments )
Reply Link Flag
EU Action against Microsoft
As a 'European' I have to say that if an American company wishes to trade in the EU then they have to abide by our rules and business standards. After all, we don't whinge when we come up against American rules and regulations whilst do business there.

And it isn't just Microsoft. Any business, from Coke to some Mom&Pop outfit has to play by the same rules.

I find it a sad reflection of the insularity of American business that they are constantly suprised by the fact that trading partners such as Europe and the Far East, not to mention China, have different rules to their homegrown ones.

If that makes them uncomfortable, then no one is forcing them to operate outside the safe haven of their own country.
Posted by bwallx (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
US buisinesses aren't suprised by the rules...
They're suprised when they follow the rules and still get punished. Mabye the "rules" ought to be a little more clear.
Posted by Bobman (114 comments )
Link Flag
EU Bureaucrats Do Not Know What People Demands.
People by buying products and services in a free market are doing this very thing, voluntarily. Microsoft is a large company, just because of the fact, that people voluntarily buy their oftwares. In practise, people have voted for Microsofts services and are still voting for them. If consumers thought, for instance in the past, like EU bureaucrats, that Microsoft, is getting to large, they would have had shopped elsewhere, even if it was more expensive or that alternative softwares did not entirely fulfil their needs. Why, because it would be a value, in this very example, for the consumers to do so. But the consumers did not shop elsewhere and are still not shopping elsewhere (even when it is free), which means that they were and are, happy with Microsoft and this story is only about politics. If we want to question peoples choices and votes, we should also question peoples votes when there are political elections. Why not, then, split political parties which are in power? We could then argue that people didnt really vote for them, it was brilliant advertising and so on, that made the choice for them. If Microsoft wants to have IE built into its operating system, they have a right to do so. It is their product. I, myself, like Firefox (and I think, IE 7 might be secure and good too), but I do believe that Microsoft is doing its customers a great service. This because, most customers do not download an alternative browser, which means that they are happy with IE. Even if it is true that earlier IE browsers have not been so secure and good. Naturally, Microsoft has the right, as any company, to keep its secrets. This is natural and has nothing to do with so called monopolistic behaviour. How would a market function properly if companies were complied to inform others of their top secrets? Even without copyright protection, they have the right to keep them. Or, should we force pharmaceutical companies to inform their competitors of their secrets too? This might spur competition! We must consider the fact that the more attractive operating system Microsoft delivers, the better price they get and the more of them will they sell. Microsoft, for example, does a lot of things to make its new operating system attractive (the Vista version). The market price mechanism functions in this way. Bureaucrats do not have this mechanism and can not know what people really want! Microsoft also, naturally, has the right to offer any file system they want and if we consider mentioned price mechanism and one of the very reasons of Microsofts success, which was standardization, we can get a clue that Microsoft is doing the right thing or at least is trying to do the right thing (we are all humans and can therefore make mistakes). Björn Lundahl, Göteborg, Sweden
Posted by Björn Lundahl (253 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I don't agree Bjorn
I see what you're saying Bjorn but it isn't a matter for consumers to decide. It is about the EU Commission upholding laws designed to ensure fair competition in a particular sector.

If Microsoft gets critised by the EU it isn't petty jealousy at its wealth or size. The EU Commission represents dozens of thriving, independant but co-operative nations with a combined wealth and power America seems unable to grasp.

This isn't America bashing, it's frustration at the insularity shown by both businesses and many of its population who don't seem to know anything outside of the USA!

I love Americans and was married in San Franscico but live in the UK.
Posted by bwallx (9 comments )
Link Flag
MS didn't follow the rules
The idea that Microsoft are the injured party shows the power of misinformation and the use of highly paid lawyers!

The EU Commission are quite clear that MS never provided enough information nor fast enough. Microsoft dragged its heels and tried to play games with the EU.

The EU aren't stupid you know.
Posted by bwallx (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
They got away with it in the US
But the EU doesn't/can't take election bribes.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Link Flag
This is truly ridilculous....
Sun,Oracle,unmentioned IBM, and, of all companies, RealNetwork have between them, excluding RealNetwork, have at least equal share of the mid to large server market.

Sun is pissed off because the Linux division isn't paying off too well; same with Oracle. Same with them both when it boils down to desktop utility.

The hallowed OOS alternatives to MSOffice suck.

While the latest edition of Office, Office 2007, does represent a significant improvement from all previous Office products - including significant personal productivy boosts - it will require some up-front training to bring ALL users up to speed with the new technology.

At the back end of the pack, RealNetworks sucks along with the fresh, Euro-pack to double-dip its' already legally guaranteed and granted direct access to MS interfaces.

Check your legal precedents!

Also do a reality check, RealNetworks.

In the face of WinAmp and MS MP11, you offer a second rate product in all respects.

As a slight example, try to gain 'Near CD quality access' when connecting to the most outstanding sound source on the web: KPLU.org.

It is a Jazz and Blues station, but the quality of the sound will blow your mind no matter what your favorite genre.

Looking back, I guess that is my commercial directed at the topic.

The upside is that on training exit, ALL trainees will be more proficient in their tasks than they were before training. That is absolutely guaranteed (personal reputation only.)
Posted by revstar (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Killing a fly with a hand-grenande
The EU Commission seems to be overlooking one flaw in their tactics. If they ****-off MS enough, MS may just pull their products completely from the shelves. Then the EU would be totally screwed since they wouldn't be able to interoperate with the rest of the world running MS software, nor could they develop such interoperability because copyright and patent enforcement would remain under international treaty.
Posted by Methuss (101 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Then they would have to use one of the many better products out there which until now has been barred from entering the market by Microsoft's illegal behavior. Sounds like a win-win arrangement to me.
Posted by 60AmpRelay (17 comments )
Link Flag
complacency is fatal
Don't be so complacent! Linux is the standard operating system in many government and business organisations in the EU. Google and others are waiting in the wings to launch their own 21st Century operating systems.

Microsoft is having a hard time pushing its OS in many parts of the world - China for example. China is set to become a major world player to rival America any time now.

The world is changing.
Posted by bwallx (9 comments )
Link Flag
Actually that would be good
In the big picture if MS pulled it's bloated proprietary products from the EU, then the EU could develop their own OS on Linux e.g., euronux.

Then they wouldn't be plagued by viruses and the software market would flourish once again.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Link Flag
misleading poll
You point you, with good reasons, that organizations are divised. Your poll, however, is already taking a position: whether they (i.e. Ksoft) learned the lesson or not. Remember: poll are not fantasy 'point & click'. Stop trying to be interactive, and push for less 'American style' media. In other words, don't just pass your view, be consistent. My 5 (Euros) cents.
Posted by nap1805 (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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