back to article EC jacks up Microsoft fine by €899m

The European Commission has added another €899m ($1.35bn) to the fine Microsoft must pay for failing to comply with the original anti-trust ruling in 2004. The fine covers the period from the 2004 decision to 22 October, 2007. The decision found that Microsoft was charging competitors too much for interoperability information …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Naugthy Boys

    Shall we have a whip round to help Bill Garden Gates and Steve Blimp out on this one ? HAHAHAHA

  2. Nomen Publicus
    Jobs Horns

    Email gone missing?

    Perhaps they couldn't get to their Hotmail account?

  3. MacroRodent

    Who gets it?

    I wonder who benefits from the fine money? Brussels bureaucracy or EU farmers, I guess. If there were any justice, the bounty would be split between competitors of Microsoft harmed by its practices- including relevant open source projects like Samba and Linux.

  4. Tim Barrett

    A special "Ultimate Edition" fine

    Well done Microsoft, you have become the first "user" of the EU's "Ultimate" edition fine/tax.

    I wonder what the next version will cost them?

    The grey suit jacket please

  5. Niall Campbell
    Gates Halo

    Damn, Damn and thrice Damn

    I think a better solution from the EU would to have been outlawing all Microsft products within their boundaries.

    It would save the EU (and Britain) billions. Admittedly, hundreds of thousands of people who make a living rectifying Redmond's mistakes would have to look for another job but in war, there are always casualties!!

  6. Anonymous Coward


    No - but the 'getting my coat' icon belays the obvious lack of humour in your comments. And you can't spell Naughty, either.

    Epic Fail.

  7. Vaidotas Zemlys
    Gates Horns

    Burn microsoft, burn

    Ah we should all go to the streets and burn the manekens of Gates and Balmer. Not that it would change anything, but it surely would be fun :)

  8. Ian S

    More money for Greek Goat herders then!

    Isn't it about time the people who've apparently been on the receiving end of these overcharges be given the money back. At least in the USA they do this in a sensible way, PC's for schools, vouchers to people who brought the product n question, but not in the EU, oh no, it just buys Mandy another cheap looking suit and stack load of madeup expenses! Why doeesn't the EU fess up and say it's short of a bob or two and turn the screw on Microsoft cus they've got loads of cash!

  9. Andrew Willett
    Gates Halo


    As an EU citizen I am ashamed that the EU CC is levying this fine on behalf of me, when I think it is completely unjustified and unfair. Microsoft should not have to pander to every single request from any competitor wanting a slice of their market share, the failure of XP Home N to sell shows that consumers see the value of Windows + Windows Media Player.

  10. Giles Jones Gold badge

    They'll never comply

    They opened up some APIs, but the licence prevented commercial open source products from using it.

  11. Paul R
    Gates Halo

    Who gets the money?

    So, assuming MS pays up, who gets the money? Does it go to the people that the EU think were unfairly disadvantaged by MSs practises? Doubt that very much. More likely will go to a few fat bonuses for EU beaurocrats, and the odd junket or two.

  12. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects
    Paris Hilton

    Hey first to post the Paris Hilton Thingie.

    Or not as the case may be.

    But Paris for the EU. Or was it Lichtenstein or somewhere?

    Who gets the money and what do they do with it?

  13. Anonymous Coward

    EU enforcement Bot to M$:

    "You have 20 seconds to comply"...

    If only... :-)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    Maybe the first poster mis-typed "naughty" but you don't know what "belay" means - unless there is a mountaineering connection I'm too mentally feeble to spot. I think you meant "belies".

    Epic Fail indeed.

    PS Way to go EU!

  15. Mark

    Re: Who gets it?

    We all do.

    Theoretically this will reduce the need to raise more money from others.

    In any case, since we can't jail the entire MS corporation and ALL it cares about (in US religious doctrine) is money, we can take the money off them.

    Does it matter where it goes?

    Because without fining them, we have two options:

    Jail all of microsoft

    Take their code and give it to someone who won't break the law

    Can we do either?

  16. b shubin

    Real antitrust enforcement

    so that's what it looks like...we don't have any of that here in the US. between the Saudi oil money and corporate cash, they bought all the politicians so thoroughly, we have to read news from overseas to remember how this is supposed to work.

    here, they hold Congressional hearings about some baseball players getting steroids, because THAT is what REALLY matters.

  17. Jeroen Braamhaar
    Black Helicopters

    Better solution ...

    Stop enforcing copyright/trademark infringement and pirac ... er.. LIBERATION of Microsoft products within EU borders.

    Maybe then MS will finally stop dragging their feet and listen up.

  18. g e

    Proof of a benign God

    ... perhaps?

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Oi! Stocks! Gethem! Now!

    <pressing intercom> Oi! Sheila! Get them brokers on the phone! Buy all avaiable stocks of chair manufactoring companies. Pronto! </intercom>

  20. Martin Owens

    To Microsoft supporter

    >> Microsoft should not have to pander to every single request from any competitor wanting a slice of their market share.

    Oh? why not? Microsoft are in a very special position called a monopoly, not just an application monopoly but an operating system monopoly. So just like black holes with space time, Microsoft distorts markets, industry and different market rules apply.

    I know it hurts the old liberal capitalists hearts to think of an "honest" business being some how held accountable for being successful. But even Adam Smith would have dismantled Microsoft for hurting the market.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what?

    And this means what?

    what if MS chooses not to pay, EU gonna make everyone switch to Macs or (shutter) Linux?

    This is better than going to the circus.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Who Gets It?

    I'm not sure how fines are distributed but I'd guess they go into the general fund.

    That said, the snide comments about the money going to farmers are a bit wide of the mark now. It's not heavily reported but the EU is reallocating some of the farm subsidy cash towards high-tech businesses and away from farmers.

    As the son of a U.K. farmer myself, and a software developer, it makes a lot of sense.

    What we have to remember though is that, unlike I.T., farming is a strategic asset that has to be protected because of the dramatic affect failures can have on feeding the population.

    You've only got to look at the last year with widespread wheat crop failures in places like Australia and Canada to realise how vulnerable we and the rest of the world are every year to the effects of drought, flood, and other causes.

    I'd rather the farmers were guaranteed an income so they know they can survive the tough economic times so that the food supply is safe, than have them expected to survive without subsidy and see a mass exit from farming - many farmers don't make an economic return and haven't for a while.

    Unlike most markets the farmers can't set their own prices. They are dictated by a combination of world markets and large retailers squeezing their margins.

    Most farmers only dream of making the kind of profit margins and salaries people in I.T. expect.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Wouldn't happen if it was a French company

    With the notable exception of VLC, every bit of French software I've used is buggy, slow, doesn't really do what it's meant to, generally crashes anything else it has to interface with. However, SAP, DOORS, Statemate (all European software) are excellent and world-leading, and all the above interface to various bits of MS software rather well (if required). VLC is OK, but there are several other free superior media players and none of them are French!

    The French ability to write good software (at least for Windows) seems to be lacking if UK, Germany and Sweden (to name three) manage to do it so well. Hell, my French colleagues are the first to slate the good old British roast, why shouldn't I slate their coding abilities? :-)

    Right, I'm going to start building cars in my shed, and if Renault and Peugeot don't tell me exactly how to do it I'm going to get the EU to sue them!

  24. Michael

    The next step

    So they've fined them, then fined them for not paying the fine (which Microsoft believe they shouldn't have to pay, because they complied after being told they were going to be fined more? Did I read that right?). So on the next round, will they simply levy another fine, or start sending the bailiffs round to Microsoft European offices and seizing assets?

    Because that would be HILARIOUS.

  25. James Minney

    The ideal remedy

    Nothing happenned in the US because they couldn't decide on what remedy to ask for. I always thought the ideal remedy would be to require Microsoft to write in big print at the top of every contract (including corporate and government procurement contracts) and prominently on every consumer package "Notice: Microsoft, the publisher of this software, is a convicted monopolist."

  26. Anonymous Coward


    MS cannot "choose not to pay".

    They have been found to break EU anti-competition LAW. They also cannot appeal the decision (again), because they have already moved up to the highest courts for the anti-trust jurisdiction, and this case is already years old (MS have moved on). They might be able to appeal the amount though I suppose.

    If they refused to pay, then ultimately (though this would never happen because they will of course pay) MS execs can be locked up and the money seized by US authorities acting on behalf of the EU.

    Someone with more legal knowledge than me can fill in the blanks here. But MS certainly doesn't have the choice whether to pay up, any more than a convicted serial killer can choose not to go to jail.

    If MS were above the law, they wouldn't even bother going to court.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft ATM

    Sounds likes Microsoft's just a nice source of cash for the EU. How does that work anyway? Does the EU realize they're a €899m short on their budget and go looking for a corporation to fine?

  28. Glen Turner


    They don't need to seize assets, the WTO treaties allow the regulator to authorise its citizens to copy Microsoft products without prosecution. That is, Microsoft sees no future revenue from EU members. Microsoft is obviously betting that the EU won't try this on. But the EU is getting more and more annoyed and the new US President Hillbama might not want to get in a trade fight with the EU if they still want NATO in Afghanistan.

    As far as the bailiffs go, I'll bet Microsoft's European staff are being reminded as we write to keep all their e-mail and documents on US servers, not on their local PCs. Just in case, after all they wouldn't want the EU finding Greg Blepp's suitcase of code Linux stole from SCO :-) There isn't much other attraction for the EU in Microsoft's assets -- multinational branch offices usually lease physical assets.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Yes, outlaw them, please.

    "I think a better solution from the EU would to have been outlawing all Microsft products within their boundaries."

    Yes, please, please, please. Making them lose the European market would surely be a huge gift to Humankind.

    Sadly EU is not that good/smart/whatever. But MS deserves it for not complying with the law.

    I also think these fines are ridiculously low. They should expropiate all MS assets, including software and copyrights!

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Yes, outlaw them, please.

    "Who gets the money?"

    EU, obviously.

    It will be used to pay landowners of inferior quality (but huge quantity) production farms. Or worse: it will go to pay the bottom-trawling ships that are depleting the oceans.

    In the best case it will help Rumania to clean up the Danub delta.

  31. ryan

    @Microsoft ATM

    yes. clearly that's exactly what happened here.

    i for one am glad your searing intellect has cleared that one up for us, Mr Coward.*

    *any relation to Noel?

  32. Lars Silver badge

    Case COMP/C-3/37.792 Microsoft

    I think it would be fair if all those with any oppinion about the Microsoft/EU case bothered to read the text written bye the EU.

    The pdf is at:

    Plus 300 pages as a pdf.

    A text absolutly worth reading.

  33. Anonymous John

    Re: Who gets it?

    The real question is who pays it? Who pays twice what the Americans do for a copy of Vista?

  34. Paul

    @Andrew Willett

    Fool. This isn't about "pandering to the competition", it's about punishing Microsoft for using their monopoly position to *stifle* competition. If they hadn't done that, then capped it off by acting like they were above the law, this would not even be happening.

    They thought they could continue to act as an abusive monopoly, operating in only their own interests. They thought wrong. They brought this upon themselves. Tough shit.

    For the clueless: competition is good. It fuels innovation and progress, and makes sure that the customer gets a better deal. It means that products have to compete on merit, and everyone raises their game, or gets out of the game. It stops everything from falling into mediocrity.

    Microsoft employ a lot of smart people, they should be more than capable of innovating and competing on quality. They've just never had to do that very much until now, and it shows.

  35. Richard
    Gates Horns

    Re: Re: Who gets it?

    "The real question is who pays it? Who pays twice what the Americans do for a copy of Vista?"

    Very few people? I didn't think anyone was buying Vista...

  36. Spleen

    Re: Martin Owens

    Microsoft a monopoly? Funny, I can't get three posts into one of these threads without someone mentioning Linux or whatever the iComp uses now. If there's competition, then Microsoft is not a monopoly, it's just very good at shutting the competition out from the mainstream. While this may be "immoral" or even lead to non-Pareto outcomes, it's what a business is supposed to do, and as a business it is still dependent on customer goodwill. I have far more faith in the ability of customers to vote with their wallet than in the bloated eurocracy to drive its gravy train up to the market and fix it with their usual efficiency and competence.

  37. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects
    Dead Vulture



    You remind me of a somewhat infamous Usenet poster. You're not him are you?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Delays cut both ways

    I read somewhere that the FUD resulting from the separate but somehow related SCO litigation has cost Linux vendors hundreds of millions on dollars in lost sales. Every day of delay in resolving this long drawn out litigation diverts more business from the Linux vendors to their competition (whoever that may be).

    If Microsoft had paid the EUR497m and cleaned up its act in 2004 it would have paid something like $591m when the Euro was worth around $1.19

    According to the Beeb they had another EUR280m fine in July 2006, lost their appeal over the original EUR497m in September 2007 and then we have the EUR899m fine announced today

    The other big news of the day is the Euro is at a record high against the dollar so the original EUR497m fine is now worth about $744m - an extra $153m compared to the 2004 value. Does anyone know if they paid it yet?

    There is a certain justice that one of the major beneficiaries of the delays in the SCO litigation is now feeling the pain of using delay, delay, delay tactics.

    It's just sad that it is unlikely that any of the bodies that have suffered directly from Microsoft's abuse will receive any significant monetary benefit from the fines, and that quite likely in the bigger scheme of things Microsoft may still consider it money well spent in keeping its competition several years behind and too busy trying to interoperate with existing applications by reverse engineering while ploughing ahead with its sharepoint development

  39. Anonymous Coward

    @Martin Owens

    How does it hurt the market?

    Peoples get confused by 3 or 4 version of an OS. Now imagine Linux with 100's of distro....

    but still, What MS should be forced to do is to release *ALL* of the api code sp competitors (For a fee) could come up with a "Compatible" OS to compete with microsoft.

    Stealing money from MS (as the EU is trying to do) is not the solution.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Maybe the US should do the same

    Could help with that national debt problem..

  41. adnim

    @ Spleen

    "Microsoft a monopoly? Funny, I can't get three posts into one of these threads without someone mentioning Linux or whatever the iComp uses now."

    That's because The Register is frequented by IT literate types many of whom know how to use and control an operating system. Where as most m$ users are consumers who just bought a PC not an OS. The m$ monopoly means the majority of consumers do not even know alternatives exist. Talk Linux or OSX in 90% of forums/blogs and most would not have a clue what one is talking about.

    Megalomania and greed are NOT virtues, should not be a goal of business and should certainly not be lauded.

    m$ should be broken into tiny pieces and forced to reduce prices by around 80%. Although £40 for a copy of vista is still somewhat extortionate.

  42. Mark

    "Who pays twice what the Americans do for a copy of Vista?"

    Well because the monopoly prices at the maximum revenue, they can't afford to up the cost any more because either people will leave the MS system or they won't upgrade yet.

    That they are massively overcharging already is why they have 50Bn in the bank.

    If they could charge more and get more money, they would.

  43. Mark


    If you're going to be soooo logical, how about point out that mono means one and poly means many, so it doesn't make sense to say "monopoly" and if the wookie lives on endor, you must acquit!!!

    Can the market decide to up sticks and move away from MS? No. Can MS decide to unload a new OS and get the market to buy? Yes. That is the power a monopoly has.

    In the EU a monopoly is bad, in the US you can have a monopoly, but as soon as you use your power in that monopoly to hurt the market, you are in trouble.

    It's all about the market being unfree.

    And the market of PC software is unfree.

    If you make a graphics card without a windows driver, it won't sell.

    If you write a game for Macontosh only, it won't sell.*

    If you write a calendaring program that doesn't accept Outlook or connect to exchange, it won't sell.

    If you write an OS that won't connect to a Windows network, it won't sell.

    But if you write a "server OS" that interfaces only with Windows, you're still going to have a large market to sell against.

    The market is unfree because computers are MEANT to INTEROPERATE. MS are doing their damndest to only interoperate with themselves. And that can make you go blind...

    * = sell enough to make the millions you're paying to develop a new top tier game

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    corporate buyout

    What with MS buying out other major corporates, (YAHOO!) I'm waiting for them to set their eyes on the EU just to shut them up.

    "Your TLD has changed from .EU to .MS .. you are the Micro-States"

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Microsoft a monopoly?..."

    yes it is a monopoly, have you ever tried to walk into a PC Retailer and BUY a Computer without Microsoft Windows on it? Try it go walk into PC World or where ever and tell them you want a PC with Linux on, you'd face blank stares...

    That is a monopoly, everyone uses a PC with Windows on because of course the capability to buy a whole system without WIndows is VERY limited. You can only install Windows or Linux if you know what your doing and average joe public hasn't a clue about how to do that, sorry but if their PC comes with Windows that's what they will use.

    A monopoly? Yep.

  46. Chris


    >>Microsoft a monopoly?

    Yes! Even the US DoJ decided that was the case. There is no argument: MS *is* a monopolist and *must* be treated as one.

  47. Chris

    Re: Re: Who gets it? (Farmers)

    I'm all for supporting Farmers and protecting the EU's ability to feed itself, but the CAP is just a way of lining French farmers pockets. Produce is sold (by farmers) at artificially high prices for more than we can eat with the excess being dumped on developing nations at below wholesale prices. This ruins the local economies in these countries, which can then only afford to sell their wares to the EU (where prices are higher), but only a select few can do this. The rest struggle to feed their families.

  48. Wolf

    @Niall Campbell

    "I think a better solution from the EU would to have been outlawing all Microsft products within their boundaries."

    This just in. In apparent retalliation of the EC's outright theft of over 2 billion dollars, MS has announced that as of today it has withdrawn all operations from the European Union, terminated the employment of all MS personnel in the EU, cancelled licenses on all Microsoft software and detonated built-in "logic bombs" which permanently disable MS software on whatever EU computer it may be used in, now and in the future. All MS proprety has been put up for sale by an third party to be named later. According to Microsoft any non-European computers that try to operate within the EU borders will also be permanently "nuked". According to MS this is in compliance with the EC ban on MS software within EU boundries.

    "We regret the hardship this places on Europe and her allies, however we have determined the criminal actions of the EC anti-trust commissioner will not permit us to operate within the political entity that is the EU. Further, we have initiated proceedings in the World Court to recover all fines placed in escrow to the EC. These funds will be used to compensate former EU Microsoft employees for the loss of their livelyhoods.

    In an effort to aid Europe during the transition we have shipped a single Ubuntu Linux CD to the EC, with a one page set of instructions on its distribution. We have full confidence that Steelie Neelie will be able to single handedly transition Europe and her allies into the freeware world of Linux and LAMP.

    Good luck, and may God have mercy on your souls." -- Steve Balmer

    This unprecedented action by Microsoft has stunned the continent as fully 95% of all personal computers simply stopped working. The internet has also taken a massive hit, with approximately 35% of all websites vanishing from the net. If you are one of the few people able to read this, please turn to your television for further news."

    Be careful what you wish for... :)

  49. vincent himpe

    Whats better ?

    A software monopolist who has a platform billions of people use to run programs on? or government institutionalized theft ?

    I'm not a pro/con microsoft/linux/OSx/Solaris advocate.And this is not a Pro/COn posting. I try to give a different perspective :

    I find that i install the OS required to run the applications i need on a daily basis. Right now thats 99% windows and 1% linux.

    If you think about it : you are using the Os to run APPLICATIONS. you don't use the 'OS'. There is nobody with a sane mind that sits down behind the screen and says : today i am going to use kernel.dll. You use SOFTWARE that runs on the Os.

    The EU should go after all the software companies that make software that only runs on Windows !. Why can't we have things like photoshop , Adobe Premiere , After effects ,Encore ,Designer, Paintshop Pro, Autocad , Solidworks , IAR C crosscompilers , Keil , J-trace, and tons of other commercial programs, on other operating systems ? Most of these programs are written in C/ C++ anyway. yank them through a compiler for the target platform and get it over with.

    The answer is simple : these guys write software for what is popular as OS. And right now that is MS. They compile for the market where they expect the most sales.

    And don't start the argument : "but there is equivalent software for linux/macos".

    I don''t want 'equivalent' i want THAT software. You can't ask someone who has invested years of time in learning and using a software tool to switch. it will take at least a year until you are comfortable at the same productivity level using a different tool ( i'm not talking about a text editor but very high end graphics / cad / design software that has steep and long learning curves )

    Besides, most of the stuff thats out there for linux seems to be in a perpetual state of 'half finished , recompile it yourself for your distro , or -we haven't got that 10 year old feature yet, but you can do this elaborate process to get an almost similar result- . And don't whine. It's free and if you don't like it :you have the source ....

    We seem to forget that 99.99 % of people that use a computer, use APPLICATIONS. Maybe 0.01 % actually writes programs ( and i'm not alking about writing a script or excel macro, but writing a real finished application that would be commercially viable.

    It's the software you use that decides which OS you run !.

    If i was MS it would be 'lights-off' for europe. We don't force people in the EU to use our OS. So fine, europe, here you go: we will no longer sell microsoft products in europe. Have fun using your own OS / software now.. Oh, wait that's right ... you haven't got anything ... can i offer you pen and paper ? You can now sue all the other software manufacturers because they don''t have the tools you use today available for whatever OS you will use now.

    The penguin because he looks cuddly but could poke your eyes out with that sharp beak...

  50. p
    Thumb Down

    Consumers will pay this fine indirectly .

    I am not sure who is right or wrong. But I know this fine will transfer on to the consumer as price increase. This is a covered taxed imposed on MS product users all over the world.

    Nonsense ! EU commisioners are not protecting the consumers like this but punishing them..

  51. David Kelly

    do m$ care?

    Look for M$ to recover the money from these fines by increasing the cost of the next Windows "Ultimate" to £400. If they even pay at all. I mean, they've been getting away with not paying for so many years what's going to make them start now?

  52. anarchic-teapot


    Amazing how there's always someone who's so desperately chauvinistic he just has to hijack a discussion to accuse the French of corruption.

    Currently, small French famers are being forced out of business because of the monopolistic attitude of the big supermarket chains. I suspect this is happening in other countries, except the UK where Government incompetence and corruption appears to have already done the job (according to Private Eye). The EU has not subsidised prices for many years.

    As for Microsoft's de facto monopoly: yes, of course it should be punished. And stopped. The EU fine is not, sadly, sufficient and won't be as long as MS continues to earn more money by flouting the law than by respecting it. It's just a shame US judges no longer have the gonads to do what they did back in the days of the IBM monopoly: break up the company. Microsoft is swallowing up companies with depressing regularity; if you can't bankrupt the competition you buy it out instead.

  53. Rob McDougall

    Play fair...

    I think this fine is justified until Microsoft opens up things like Active Directory. It's not like anyone wants to rip off windows - they just want to be able to have unix and windows-based clients able to talk better with each other.

    The way things stand at the moment, it takes a hell of a lot of cajoling to get a mac to log in to a Windows server-based network... *grumbles*

  54. Richard Kay

    Nobody is above the law

    But what else can judges do with a company that acts as if its directors imagine it is, other than to keep hitting it with bigger and bigger fines until it affects the bottom line ? If using a monopoly in one area (e.g. OS) to create another one elsewhere (e.g. office software) is not a criminal matter then judges can't put directors behind bars, so fines just have to get larger until the company shareholders take notice.

    Suitable recompense must include forced publication of source code test cases as public domain code compatible with any open source or proprietary product, usable to test use of and compatibility with all relevant APIs and protocols from both directions. If the company products do not then comply in any respect with the published test cases further fines are then in order.

  55. Anonymous Coward

    EU Annual Budget = 130 Billion €!

    This fine is ~1% of the current EU annual budget...

  56. PT

    Re: Who Gets It?

    Why, the MEPs of course. They've become a bit too expensive for national governments to keep funding them out of revenues. It's all set out in detail in that secret report nobody is allowed to read.

  57. BitTwister

    My previous post

    ...should have been titled '@@AC'. (damn these remembered entry fields)

  58. BitTwister

    @AC (re. Ben Franklin quote)

    > the 'getting my coat' icon belays the obvious lack of humour in your comments.

    But it does rather look like someone reaching for their wallet/money, doesn't it? Still looks like humour to me.

  59. BitTwister

    @Andrew Willett

    > Microsoft should not have to pander to every single request from any competitor wanting a slice of their market share

    Quite - but that's not what this is about at all.

    It's about a company holding a monopoly on a desktop OS which is being deliberately skewed against competition by not fairly documenting certain protocols/procedures (nothing whatever to do with 'giving away code') which would allow fair - or indeed, any - competition.

    While there's nothing wrong with a monopoly, as such, there's *plenty* wrong with one which actively works to make life difficult/impossible for any would-be competition.

    This is known elsewhere as 'dictatorship' - perhaps that makes it a little clearer for you...

  60. Mark

    To the AC

    "Peoples get confused by 3 or 4 version of an OS. Now imagine Linux with 100's of distro...."

    OK, name them. Name 100's of distros.

    Most people who know something about Linux can name a half-dozen but the only changes between them are how you administer it. And if you've got it pre-installed, you don't really need to admin it, do you.

    But name the hundreds first.

  61. Luther Blissett

    Collecting on M$

    It would be in M$ and US interests to cough up the full amount immediately. If they want to chance leaving it, then when the dollar crashes, euros will be so expensive that it will cost them NH, VT, MA, and several other states on the eastern seaboard.The EC does not of course want them - but it will make a tidy profit selling them on to the PRC, who would benefit immediately in greatly reduced shipping costs. As the Chinese discovered the eastern seaboard a few years before 1492, the scope for the rewriting of myths will be truly tectonic.

  62. Anonymous Coward

    Ah ha ha ha ROFLMCO......gloat

    So funny, I feel so sorry for Mr. Balmy (NOT!). The shear arrogance of Microsoft thinking it can give the finger to a collection of nations. When in Rome Mr. Balmy, when in Rome, indeed! Personally I could not give two shits who gets the money, whether it funds dykes in Holland, French wine producers or just one huge piss up for MEP's. I would throw a party myself if I heard that the Bailiffs where seizing copies of Vista (but they are worthless surely?) This time will seem as the high point in Microsoft's fortunes in the EU, as more and more EU agencies switch over to Open source. A new generation learning in schools and colleges that there is an alternative.

    We need Edmund Blackadder to comment on this, (Baby eating Bishop of Bath and Wells)

    Oh and please don't go on about the EU dumping food in 3rd countries, practically every developed nation does that!

    I really do feel truely sorry for those misguided people who sympathise with their abusers who has either stolen or stifled ideas, who have charged them extortionate amounts of cash for licenses, made pernicious contracts and agreements that broke so many member states laws, who gave us Windows ME and now Vista. And seem to want to turn this into a US vs EU debate. Who have turned so many young men into "geeks" who think they know all about "software" and computers because they can fathom out how to play games in windows, whilst their grannies can't (they don't have girlfriends!), a system, a tool that is so user UN-friendly, that if it was a toaster you'd bin it!

    Happy days indeed! :)

    For all the Microsoft fan "boys" have a whip round and send your cheque to Mr. Balmy, put your money where your mouth is.....I'm off to the Pub to celebrate...ah ahhh aa haaaa LOL so pleased, Happy happy joy joy!

  63. Lars Silver badge

    My regards to Nelie Kroess

    She could, bye now, be a very rich person, had she read the lips of Microsoft.

    But she refused, I think.

    There are some here who think the EU is ripping of Microsoft.

    The reality, however, is that Microsoft has been ripping of the world for a long time.

    The 60bn cash in Microsoft is our money. so to say.

    This complaint about Microsoft was issued bye American companies like Sun and Real Networks.

    They where paid off bye Microsoft, and one has to assume they felt they where compensated for the harm caused bye Microsoft.

    However, even if a criminal pays off a victim, the crime has not vanished.

    And I belive Sun and others felt the EU would fail like the US DoJ, flat on the face.

    The EU has been very modest as far as fines are concerned.

    And the money is only (the only one Microsoft will listen to) a tool to achive results.

    Microsoft has turned into a company where keeping the monopoly is all that matters.

    In the history of IT, Windows is the largest and most costly catastrofy to date.

  64. SpitefulGOD
    Gates Halo


    @Niall Campbell - your solution would cripple the European economy you tit, computers don't just sit on your desk at home.

    This is a typical bureaucrat fine, similar to the ever mounting tax the UK government placed on British manufacturing industries and look where that got us - a crippled fragile country that's on a knife edge of collapse.

    The EU will feel so good after they've got their tasty fine, next it'll be fining google for their monopoly then move on to the smaller companies. In the end everyone will suffer for the greed of these Pigs, I hope those who support this ludicrous fine will eventually feel it's backlash.

  65. Herby

    Stock quote

    $28.19 -$0.19 (-0.67%) at 10:47 PST Feb 27

    Basically no change. I guess crime DOES pay!

  66. Martin Owens


    >> While this may be "immoral"

    Great now that you know it's wrong why do you pretend like it's ok? It's WRONG. you remember right and wrong? those concepts you learn from your parents about how hurting people is bad and how helping people is good.

    Sheesh you'd think to become a member of the capitalist party you have to have a frontal lobe removal. Microsoft are a monopoly, Microsoft are immoral, using Microsoft products is immoral. If you can deal with doing wrong then fine but I won;t.

  67. Ed

    Microsoft can't win...

    It doesn't matter what they do, they will never win in the EU. They come into compliance and get fined again anyway. Nice. I think it's time for Microsoft to just stop doing business in the EU. Fuck 'em. Linux is so awesome that there should be no problem in changing every PC that currently runs Windows into a Linux box.

  68. brainwrong


    Why are you converting the figure into dollars? We use Pounds in this country.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We Created the Monopoly

    Let's remember who creates monopolies: CONSUMERS.

    They went from nothing to everything in 25 years because you, me, and everyone else bought their stuff. Even back before they had 90% market share, we bought their stuff. We made them a monopoly.

    So, if you want to blame someone for the evils of Microsoft, then look in the mirror.

    Remember, Microsoft is a corporation which means they're accountable to their shareholders to deliver a return on their investment. I'm guessing anyone on here with a diverse 401K, IRA, or other retirement account invested in stocks or mutual funds probably owns Microsoft shares as they're part of almost every portfolio. If Microsoft tanks then I'm guessing it'll drag the rest of the tech stocks down with it and the "bubble burst" of the late 90s will pale in comparison.

    It's not Microsoft's job to deliver a public service. It's not their job to provide a crutch to their competition. What idiot businessman would help his competition? Has anyone on here EVER had a business course? They're a business. That means their only job is to MAKE MONEY. Probably much like the businesses you all work for.

    Sorry, we don't live in some socialist utopia where top tier developers write stunning software and give it away for free and feed their families off of the food donations of grateful users.

    Oh, and linix/open source fanboys, you don't represent a big enough demographic of the average computer user. You do however represent a disproportionate percentage of register users on this news site, which makes commentary on these articles anything but a scientific sampling of users.

    If you don't like their market presence and power, then you and several hundred million other people should of thought about that many years ago when you were buying every title they released.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What is this really about?

    So the beast of Redmond has another stiff fine imposed upon it by the EC. Where will the money go - wherever the politicians would like it to go, but probably not to the areas that were affected by this monopolistic situation. Will MS be changed/crippled/castrated by this - no, of course not. Who will actually pay for it? ummmm - you will (as an appropriately licensed consumer of these products), indirectly, of course. Does any of you really feel that this is about apportioning fairness, or is this just another moment of political posturing and a statement so that the EC bureaucrats can point to something and claim to have done something to justify their position? I would like to think not - as I grow older, I am surprised by little, but dismayed by many things.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    I thought they also had anti-monopoly laws in the USA

    "Maybe the US should do the same... Could help with that national debt problem".

    Absolutely. And it would benefit everybody: also US consumers. You don't live off Microsoft, Gates and others live off you (and me) thanks to Microsoft.

    In other times, the USA forcibly split the telephone companies, the oil companies, etc. because they were monopolies and that's not supposed to be good for the market nor the consumers.

    Microsoft is the same thing, why doesn't the USA force it to split in several competing smaller companies, as would be logical and, AFAIK, fully legal?

  72. Antoinette Lacroix
    Jobs Horns


    Once again, I have to defend the maker of products I don't know, and have never used. Somehow it doesn't feel right, to always see a company get punished for their success. If everbody depends on you, you dictate the price, it's only natural. Where is the EU case against gas prices, huh ? I really wonder why MS puts up with all that crap. If I was them, I wouldn't pay a fscking cent. I wouldn't react. No comment, no statement, no nothing ! EU ? F**k yourself with a retractable baton. (borrow one from the Piratebay). After all, what'd they do ? Ban my software from Europe ? Go ahead and try . . You call me a monopoly ? Stop buying my stuff then ! Make all your customers switch to another OS , and make them use application "whatever". Don't accept documents in my proprietary file-format, don't serve your stuff with my server apps - don't follow the standards I invent - don't program in .NET - don't script in VB. Ignore me completely - act as if I didn't exist. Kill my business if you can - see if I care. I made enough money to live a comfortable life. I wonder why I still bother. I'm doin you a big favor, and all I get is complains from N00bs, that couldn't even turn on their machine without me. I'm pretty sick of it all - leave me alone already ! As long as almost everybody WANTS my stuff, and almost everbody wants to make money with it, I bloody well do as I please. SCREW YOU !

    No really. If I had MS's market share, I wouldn't even sell developer tools. I'd keep everything secret - everything ! Take it or leave it - your choice.

    But you are lucky, MS is a lot more friendlier than I'd be. Not only is MS opening parts of their source, they also give away VS Express for free. They try to light up the web and help to develop Moonlight/Mono, so we Nixers can have our share. (fsck u Adobe) They work their bloody asses off, and only expect a little approval in return. What on earth do you want more ? They have to eat now and then, ya knowse. BUY VISTA, dammit - it's nice and shiny, RAM is cheap, and you have no clue how an OS works, anyway. There is no free lunch, not even in Ubuntu land . . . no . . . wait . . . almost forgot . . .

    . . . if you want complete freedom, without any restricting licenses, and run Win/Linux/SCO/AIX/Solaris apps - without having to pay a single dime . . .

    . . . head over to, we'll get you goin' in no time, and we'll spare you linuxish remarks about how dumb u r

    Sounds good ? You bet !

    (Mr. Balmer - coz he doesn't give a fsck)

  73. Andraž Levstik

    Some reflections on the comments...

    @We Created the Monopoly

    I'm happy that I only ever purchased DOS 6.22 and Win 3.11. That's the only microsoft software that I ever owned. I never ever bought a machine with any win9x/me/2k/etc... pre-installed...

    Thus I can safely say I never added much to this monopoly.

    The only reason people bought it is because it was forced on them(there's that monopoly thing again). Microsofts business practices are beyond immoral... They are mafia style... Either you do this or we cut you off completly and you die.

    That's the main reason people have bought microsoft products...

    @Nobody is above the law

    I like this idea very much... It really sets what should be the norm... The other option would be that

    they start using open standards and working with them instead of embrace, extend, extinguish.

    @Whats better ?

    Well techincaly that's what wine is all about... It provides a win32 api on other environments. The problem is that you can't just recompile for a different target if you're basing stuff off win32 api(which a lot of proprietary vendors do) but I belive google is sponsoring some development of wine to provide better support for all your win32 api apps you might want to use(particulary Adobe products)

  74. Mark Aggleton


    Perhaps Ferrari should have been told to open up there technical specs so other teams such as McLaren could use them. Why the f$ck should MS have to open there products?

  75. Ian Rowe

    Re: We Created the Monopoly

    So what you're saying is you don't mind living in your own figurative filth so we should all suffer the same fate? Oh and something about everyone who disagrees being filthy hippies (the irony).

    Your post reads like a joke without a punchline, here's your coat.

  76. Mark

    Re: We Created the Monopoly

    Yes, "we" did, but back in Win 3.0 days at work I told them buying MS Office suite for it was a bad idea: we shouldn't give one company all our eggs.

    But we also give them the monopoly by allowing them to not interoperate and keep their secrets.

    But the monopoly is called copyright.

    All we need is to stop persuing or allowing persuit of copyright infringement of MS products.

    If MS *did* manage to do what Wolf posited in his "Joke", you may hear later "Mr Ballmer and Mr Gates are missing, whereabouts unknown. However an email to microsoft says "you're next"".

    Governments are allowed to KILL people.

    You don't piss them off just because they want you to play nice with others.

  77. Chris Bradshaw
    Gates Horns

    the fine is not enough

    Microsoft is raking in money because of their monopoly, and has been for years. But because there wass no more market share for them to gain on desktop OS, they abused their control of the desktop market to increase their market share of the server market - by making it difficult for their competitors to communicate with Windows desktop machines.

    The EU was right to fine them initially, and to insist on compliance with restrictive measures to try to put the market back into balance. When MS did not comply, the EU justifiably levied another (bigger) fine.

    But I suspect that MS has profited hugely from their illegal manipulation and control of the market. They calculated that their profit would be more than the probable fine, therefore they did not comply with the EU restrictions - MS gained financially from their non-compliance. IMHO this is contempt of court - I would put the head honchos in jail for a few months. I'm sick of white-collar criminals and rich <CENSORED>s getting off with fines that are treated as a cost of doing business - a bribe in effect.

    A fine is not an acceptable punishment for a drug dealer - why should it be acceptable for a robber baron???

  78. Spleen

    @Mark and others

    It doesn't matter if the consumers are unaware or unwilling of alternatives. If there are alternatives, there is competition, whether it's weak or niche or not sold in PC World is irrelevant to the definition of monopoly.

    If you believe that people aren't using Linux because Microsoft is brainwashing them, you're living in a bad cyberpunk fantasy. Market forces have created a dominant operating system for use by the majority (with alternatives easily available to the minority who want/need them) because the majority don't want to have to think about their OS. If you are an average computer user who just wants to be able to check emails and play Solitaire, the effort of becoming sufficiently computer-savvy to correctly choose an alternative OS, learn how to use it and work around all the inconveniences outweighs the actual benefit of having a better OS on which to check emails and play Solitaire.

    That's why I've never bothered to learn how cars work. I'm sure if I spent time learning how to tinker with my car - and sucked up the results of mistakes made along the way - I'd end up with a faster, better-maintained car. But since I rarely drive and never race the cost outweighs the benefit. I've met car fans who found this logic as incomprehensible as you find the idea that people don't care whether their OS is the best incomprehensible. Pursuing fuller information, like "am I using the best OS" or "could I put a better engine in my car", always has a cost, either financial or opportunity or both. For one type of person (geeks/racers/whatever) the benefit will outweigh the cost, for another type it won't. Each will make a different decision whether to pursue fuller information and each type will have made a perfectly rational decision.

    What's not rational is for the first type to assume that there is no second type and that because they benefited from something, so will everyone else. If you refuse to make this basic leap of imagination then I can't help you.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    PC World

    > walk into PC World or where ever and tell them you want a PC with Linux on, you'd face blank stares...

    Well if you will go into one of those over priced hell-holes staffed by moronic fuckwits, what do you expect? You'd get blank stares if you asked those drones what day of the week it was or what letter follows A in the alphabet.

    Even so your point is well made: try buying a PeeCee that has something other than Windoze on it.

  80. stizzleswick

    Re: We made the monopoly

    "We made them a monopoly.

    So, if you want to blame someone for the evils of Microsoft, then look in the mirror."

    I think you are unfamiliar with the contracts Microsoft pushed on PC manufacturers in the late 1980s and into the 1990s. Those contracts bound companies like Compaq and Dell to pay the license fee for one license of MS Windows for every CPU they shipped -- regardless of whether Windows was actually installed on the box or not. Needless to say, they didn't want to throw away that money for nothing, so they sold that license with every PC.

    Escom was good enough to sell boxes without any OS installed, or with any OS of your choice, but they had to pay vastly higher license fees for Windows because they didn't agree to the per-CPU pricing model, so their Windows boxes were uncompetitive for consumers.

  81. Anonymous Coward

    Expropiation and jail!

    "I'm sick of white-collar criminals and rich <CENSORED>s getting off with fines that are treated as a cost of doing business - a bribe in effect.

    "A fine is not an acceptable punishment for a drug dealer - why should it be acceptable for a robber baron???"

    Absolutely. There could be other possible measures, I guess: getting them in jail (for fraud, scam, robbery and surely other crimes) and nationalizing their company. But that's not what EU will do because they are fundamentally in connivence with corporations (EU is basically just that: a convenient bureaucracy and legal framework to manage "free market" at continental level) and also because MS is not a European company.

    Nowadays anyhow, most states (except Venezuela) don't seem to dare to expropiate corporations, except as last resort and only to help the company out of trouble (case of Northern Rock) and not to protect the public from their manipulations and fraudulent practices.

    EU is no exception and, also, not being a state, it surely doesn't have the power anyhow. Fining MS is about all they can do probably.

    But expropiation and jail would be the right thing to do, specially with such an abusive and cynic company as MS.

  82. TeeCee Gold badge

    @French software

    "With the notable exception of VLC......"

    Hmm, you've not tried to move the slider bar to move through a Matroska file with subtitles then? Or even just up the playback speed in same? Kaboom!

    I've gone over to WMP with CCCP bolted on 'cos of this one.

    Damn. Bloody Microsoft made enough money to pay the fine while I was typing that.

  83. Quirkafleeg
    Gates Horns

    Re: PC World

    “ ‘walk into PC World or where ever and tell them you want a PC with Linux on, you'd face blank stares…’ ”

    “Well if you will go into one of those over priced hell-holes staffed by [morons], what do you expect? […]”

    Now, now, be fair. I'm sure that one or two of them have heard of this thing called ‘lienix’.

    “Even so, your point is well made: try buying a PeeCee that has something other than Windoze on it.”

    Easy: build it yourself, or get one built for you. (Or be pointed towards certain *really* small computers – yup, saw an eeePC on sale in a high-street shop.)

  84. Mark


    Could PC world operate without Windows machines? No.

    So they MUST rely on MS's good graces. If MS puts a license saying "you must pay £30 per machine sold for an MS OS license or buy them one at a time for a wholesale price of £60", they pay £30 per machine.

    That is often referred to as "the Microsoft Tax" and keeps lienix machines more expensive than Windows machines.

    Now if PC world could tell MS to stuff it and still operate on the high street, they would not be a monopoly.

    But they can't so MS is.

  85. Mark

    "If there are alternatives, there is competition"


    We aren't saying there's NO competition. But we ARE saying MS is a monopoly.

    If cars cost £30,000 and require daily colonic investigation because all the car companies were bought by Google, there's an alternative to the car called, "walking" or "the bus".

    But does that mean that this TeamEvilGoogle isn't a monopoly?


  86. vincent himpe

    By Andraž Levstik

    wine is not a solution. i have tried it. most programs i use on a daily basis do not run on it.

    The problem is that most of these programs i mentioned either

    - use a lot of functions in windows that is not avaialble in wine

    - use custom hardware ( like a RTx2 graphics board ) for which there are no linux drivers.

    - slow down to the point of unusable when running in wine


    Native recompiling is the only way to go. For me, the biggest problem with linux , Osx, freeBSD and all these othere PC based os' ( i'm not talking about sun / solaris because that is different hardware.. although lately they became intel afficionados too ) is that there simply is no software for it. Yes yes yes there is ton's of 'free' software. But if you walk into a store or talk to a tool vendor and want to BUY software .. nada , noppes, zilch ,niente ,niks, nothing, except some very specialistic tools like chip design ( cadence,mentor,synopsys ) and some niche products.

    But mainstream tools that are in use by hundreds of thousands ( if not milions) on a day to day basis like Autocad , Photoshop, Premiere , Dreamweaver, TurboTax , Ulead videoeditor , Paintshop Pro , and many many many others, don't exist for linux.

    So this monoply is not only the fault ( if you can claim 'fault') of microsoft , but also becasue of the thousands of other companies that only make software for windows. It's a business world. Software manufacturers make tools for the platforms where there is a market.

    Semiconductor design tools used to be only avaialble for Calma , Computergraphics, Apollo, and a few dedicated machines. Then VAX became popular and very soon all software was running on VMS ... Calma and Apollo went out of business. Then Sun came alon and all this stuff moved to Solaris ...

    Ten years ago linux came along and because pc's with linux were cheaper and equally , if not more , performatn then a sun workstations the tool vendors started making linux versions. Why ? because there was a MARKET to SELL their tools.

    Free software is cool but not liveable. With the exception of a few 'free' tools ( Eclipse , GCC ) , that are backed by some big corporation because they see return on investment , none of this free software find a foothold in business.

    Lack of support, lack of centrialized contact in case of problems. And free meas you can;'t write it off as investment ...

    As for the writers of free ( as in 'gratis' , you also get the source and do as you please ) the end of the day what will they eat ?

    We all ( individuals companies ) need money to thrive and survive. I have lots of development work that needs to be done. I can offer a lot of people a cubicle, top notch computer, all the water/soda/coffee they can drink and they can code to their hearts delight.

    I will decide what coding tools to use , what platform is targeted, you get a a deadline and it HAS to work. I won't pay a dime, but i promise , in writing, i will give the results away for free, including the source. This is a multi-year project.

    How many will sign up tomorrow ? That's what you get with 'free' stuff.

    As a company you can not run on the goodwill of people alone.

    Imagine you have a product to push out the door . Due to a bug in a piece of software you use to doe the production you can not deliver. If this software is bought you go to the vendor and say : fix this ( or else ... )

    If its 'free' you can post the question on some bulletin board and hope someone will give you an answer other then 'try this', you need kernel pack so and so , grep this and edit that script' or plain gibberish. For commercial packages there are support contracts , helplines of you can have a person on site within a day.

    try that for 'free' stuff.. Granted Red hat is successfull , but it costs more then dealing with Sun these days ...

    Again the penguin. Because it says Linux Os to the gods..

    Even if there was a god , he's either an atheist or a narcissist.

  87. Lars Silver badge


    We are talking about a monopoly, Ferrari is no monopoly.

    In fact it is fairly difficult to find something similar to Microsoft - the monopoly..

    The car industry is more than a hundred years old and it is hard to imagine that any company could become a monopoly in that industry.

    Apparently a monopoly, like Microsoft, is only possible with new technology (state monopolies are a different thing).

    Right now I suppose Google is rather close, but still nothing like MS on the desktop.

    And then we are back to the fact that a monopoly is not against the law.

    Microsoft has abused its monopoly both in the USA and in the EU, and that is all there is to it. And they could have acted differently, then again, Microsoft is basically a one and a half person company, still feeling like underdogs, in a hard world fighting their teenage dreams.

    It must be absolutly heartbreaking for them to experience that nor the Xbox nor the Smartphone or anything they have made since Windows and Office has yet reached a plus 90% market share. And then there is that damned Google and that Pacman OS. Poor guys, everybody against them. Don’t get sued said Gates in England. Poor bastard.

  88. Andraž Levstik

    @vincent himpe

    I wasn't implying it was a solution... and as said... a simple recompile won't easily solve it...

    Since windows and *x api differ. And yes I'm aware of a ton of details that simply won't work.

    "Free software is cool but not liveable."

    "Imagine you have a product to push out the door . Due to a bug in a piece of software you use to doe the production you can not deliver. If this software is bought you go to the vendor and say : fix this ( or else ... )"

    # and I had this problem myself... guess what.. the vendor took near a week to respond

    # and this with us being their only partner in this area

    Guess what... ^^ this is the stuff that you will earn your living off in a Free Software world... by selling

    support for it... More and more projects offer commercial support and even have 1-2-3 etc.. hour response times listed which is a LOT more than some proprietary vendors do. Quite a few even offer

    on site 24h response time. This is what will drive this in the long run. It probably won't be by individuals(though there are exceptions) but by co-operative companies that develop various

    services or appliances or other things based on the software they use.

    For example:

    if each company that uses a gnu/linux solution and resells it would hire a single linux developer full-time to help with their own product yet also assist in development of linux it would go along way with supporting it.

    You seem to think that selling software is the only viable business model... It's not...

    Of course then you point out that anyone could provide the support and you're out of a job...

    It's called competition... You need to stay competitive. License training for the software or training to support it etc... There's so many things that can be done...

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