Like a plentiful oil well, the European Union (EU) has
found, since 2004, that Microsoft is a rich source of funds. The EU
allowed Microsoft to continue to operate in the region, but found it in
violation of antitrust laws. Its conclusion -- in order to stay Microsoft
will have to pay some big fines.
The Microsoft fines began in March of 2004 when a European Commission high
court found the company guilty of antitrust violations -- in particular, using underhanded
tactics to freeze out its competitors in the media player and server
software markets. A massive fine of $690M (€497M) was charged against
to comply and was promptly fined an additional
$375.4M USD. In the end, Microsoft’s decision to fight the law turned
out to be a futile one when the European
Court of First Instance ruled
to uphold European Commission's decision against Microsoft. Microsoft
to finally comply with the ruling.
Now Microsoft has been hit with another massive fine by the European Union. The EU
says that between July 2006, and October 2007, Microsoft's refused to comply
during its legal fight against the EU, making it eligible for the increased
rate of fines of approximately $3.83M a day, for each day of
non-compliance. The new fine
announced by the EU for this period sums up to $1.4B USD (€899M).
The fine marks the
largest antitrust fine in international history, and a record judgment against
Microsoft indicated it is willing to accept the fine, though, commenting that
the fines were about past issues and that the company is now operating under
revised principles that make its software more open. Microsoft twice
reduced its patent rate and information license rate, last May. Finally
in October it reduced its rates even further, offering new license for
interoperability information for a flat fee of $14,000 and an optional
worldwide patent license for a reduced royalty of 0.4%. The October
reduction appears to be satisfactory in the EU's eyes, though the initial
reduction was not.
The changes in licensing policy went into effect on October 22, 2007. The
changes help make it easier for smaller software firms to gain access to
interoperability information, allowing them to interface with Microsoft
products. Microsoft had initially demanded a royalty rate totaling 3.87%
of a licensee's product revenues and demanded an additional 2.98% of products'
revenues from companies seeking access to communications information, which
Microsoft deemed highly secret.
While the over $2.4B USD in fines reaped by the EU against Microsoft since 2004
have certainly hurt, Microsoft still has about $19.6B USD in cash reserves,
when taking the most recent $1.4B USD fine into effect. Unfortunately for
Microsoft, this may soon be shrinking further as the European recently launched
two new investigations into Microsoft.
The EU is also keeping busy trying to squeeze on Intel, which it
of antitrust violations. Intel, like Microsoft, fought the EU's accusations.
Meanwhile the EU was hard at work, strengthening their case, by seizing
documents in a raid of German Intel offices.
quote: Big corporations beware -- the EU is after your money.
quote: Big corporations screwing over the public beware -- the EU is after your money.
quote: Long-term monopolies are Created by government interference. In a truly free market, monopolies have a very hard time exising without government regulation/protection.
quote: Read: We support the domestic unions and anti-capitalists.i.e.if you fart somewhere in Europe don't be surprised when the United Farters Union of Europe hauls your ass to the EC for unsanctioned flatulence.
quote: From Wikipedia:Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, changed the perception of the human mind and its workings profoundly. His influence on the 20th century is widely regarded as massive. The documentary describes the impact of Freud's theories on the perception of the human mind, and the ways public relations agencies and politicians have used this during the last 100 years for their "engineering of consent".
quote: Here's the REAL fact: Microsoft has leveraged it's expertise and knowledge over the last 30 years to become one of the greatest companies EVER on the face of the planet.
quote: The US thats heading right into a recession - you want them to go into an economic struggle with EU, the worlds largest economy, over a software company?
quote: The Eurozone is larger when combining total output of all member nations, but the unity ends there.
quote: It doesn't seem you understand how your own system works. You were a "single" market even before the introduction of the euro.
quote: Unfortunately for them they don't realize they jumped from the kettle right into the fire.
quote: I'm not going to have them unless I have the money to give them what they need.
quote: Frankly I've never had a problem writing software on Windows and I think this is simply a couple of open source groups and maybe a few tiny 5 man software shops coming out of the woodwork with unsuccessful products looking to make some money back or make it cheaper to continue to operate rather than play with the same rules the big boys play with.
quote: I'm aware of the charge regarding the protocols yet see little evidence to indicate customers were somehow harmed by this.
quote: If anyone wants it, they are going to pay a nice price for it, pending we are feeling like making that available. In most cases we keep it to ourselves and use it to one up our competitors.
quote: On the flip side I disagree with the open source ideology. I don't write software to share with the world freely.
quote: Shouldn't EU consumers really be making the decisions here?
quote: The point of this is that MS practices are resulting in them not having a choice.
quote: MS should get more for their product. Are 3 or 4 games worth more than the software environment they run on or the hardware it enables to function? Is Adobe software worth more?
quote: I agree companies should pay fines, but this is getting absurd.
quote: how do they come up with the numeric amount for these fines?
quote: Come on United States, start fining the hell out of European companies. We need that money. Europe is essentially taking money from us, so let's take money from them.
quote: What do you think the U.S. has been doing for the last 50 years?
quote: *Denies that England is in Europe*
quote: Much like in traffic, if you do not comply to traffic laws, you will be fined. If you fall into repeat, your previous offenses will be taken into account and your penalty will grow. The same goes for companies that break the rules, not only do we take into account the frequency of offenses but also the longevity of offenses.
quote: It certainly seems overkill and appears to target American companies.
quote: The blogger seems to indicate that it is standard procedure in the EU to fine US companies, well, that is a lie.
quote: You are kidding yourself if you do not think the European union is taking advantage of the situation. I never hear anything in the news about any big European business's getting slammed with fines.
quote: So if I make a product and it becomes wildly successful, is the EU going to fine me for collecting a small percentage of the profits of others using it?
quote: This all seems very anti-capitalism to me. Isn't the market supposed to dictate the price? If MS wants to charge 75% royalties, no company would ever license from them. The free market works!!
quote: Microsoft is the only company in 50 years that gets fined due to they refuse to comply with a ruling.
quote: Talk to friends ore people you now that have lived ore studied over here in Europe and ask them what "they think" of Europe, you will find out that things are a lot different then you think.
quote: Europeans have noting against capitalism
quote: I have. The liberals among them think they've visited heaven and touched the face of god. The conservatives were disgusted, and sad that a continent with such a rich history could have sunk so low. Thats mainland Europe; less intense responses to the UK and Ireland. I don't know anybody that hasn't enjoyed a trip to Ireland.
quote: Then why no progress on the Doha trade talks?
quote: Why the protected agriculture markets?
quote: Why the resistance to GM food?
quote: Why some of the most rigid labor markets on Earth? Why does Bahrain rank as having more economic freedom than Germany? Why does Kazakhstan (!!!!!!) have a more free economy then Greece?
quote: I'm not sure you know what all it entails; going after the occasional "monopolist" (which apparently is defined by market share alone since most other measures fail) is not capitalism. It's simply good politics.
quote: As a software developer, you should appreciate that you don't have to learn 15 different APIs to port your application to the 15 different OSes that would exist if MS didn't have a controlling marketshare.
quote: Similarly, imagine if instead of Intel standardizing the processor market on x86 there were 25 different assembly languages. 25 different compilers anyone?
quote: Are MS and Intel being anticompetitive by having large market share?
quote: If OSes weren't slow and bloated, you'd still be running on a 386 16Mhz that cost $2000
quote: Are you really a developer? I highly doubt you've worked in the real world.
quote: Java. Write once. Run anywhere
quote: One processor manufacturer cannot "standardize" on anything. It takes at least two to make something a standard.
quote: Nobody is blaming Microsoft or Intel of that. They are being sued for anticompetitive practices (that means using their market share to stifle competition).
quote: Games and enterprise applications always pushed hardware more than the OS. Until the capitulation to DirectX, OpenGL games pushed the hardware just as hard as the rest.
quote: People would have still innovated without Microsoft and Intel. We would likely have the same problems, just different companies to blame it on.
quote: Why you little!!!