CyTRAP Labs legislative watch - European Court of First Instance rules on Microsoft vs. European Commission
|European Commission tried to crack Windows - ruling 2004-03|
|Commission ruled||Does it work in practice?|
|1||Offer a version of Windows without Microsoft’s media player||Only a few thousand customers decided to install the unbundled version of Windows|
|2||Make available a stream of technical information that would allow rivals to develop server software that works smoothly with Windows-driven computers and servers||Microsoft has yet to comply and was last year fined Euro 280.5m|
|2007-09-17 - 9:30 hours - will the Court uphold the basic pillars of the 2004 ruling meaning both the bundling and interoperability sides of the case are backed?|
The Luxembourg-based European Court of First Instance reviews commission rulings against business. On 2007-09-14 (Monday) we will get the long-awaited final verdict on the European Commission’s case against the Microsoft.To software industry, antitrust watchedogs and legal experts around the world, the nuances of Monday’s court ruling are almost certain to be explosive.
Microsoft’s success is not a punishable offence, if it is based on efficiency and managerial ingenuity. However, if supported by anti-competitive practices it must be stopped or punished by our courts in Europe. One thing we should remember, a company free to adopt anti-competitive practices will scare off the venture capitalists on which newcomers rely.
Those who criticize the European Commission’s decisions and this case in particular regarding Microsoft would do well to consider just how much leeway we should give a dominant company before it might detroy the competitive process? The OOXML standard efforts are an example that suggests we should continue to be vigilant and watch out.
OOXML is a specification that did not utilize existing standards as it should. Some have argued that it was rammed trough ignoring quality but focusing on speed. Worst is that Microsoft used every trick in the book. Moreover, in some countries voting took place under circumstances (e.g., Sweden) that made a mockery of all of the diligent work performed by those that had sweated their way through all 6,000 plus pages [by the way - ODF specifications are 756 pages long (Please click on the link, Login as guest - click on this link again and voila free access)].
With the judgment expected to run to several hundred pages, the true winners and losers may only emerge weeks if not months after the software world’s seminal day in court. Commissioner Neelie Kroes - had of the regulator - has staked the reputation of the antitrust watchdog on the Microsoft case.
Europe’s consumers and firms need a decisive win by the Commission in order to curtail Microsoft. Moreover, such a win would empower the Commission from launching new probes, for instance into Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows Vista.
In the interest of citizens’ and consumers’ rights, Microsoft’s anti-competitive practices must be stopped. We already have Microsoft do with our operating systems things without even asking for prior authorization:
As a precedent, the Commission’s ruling remains very important. Inter-operability remains a critical issue not just for Microsoft and its two most important revenue-earners - PC operating systems and office applications - but also for groups such as:
==> Apple, whose iTunes music website famously only works with Apple’s own iPod.
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