European Union Court rules against Microsoft

According to Reuters today, as reported on France 24, The European Commission ruling that Microsoft used its market power to crush competitors was upheld.

The EU’s second highest court dismissed all the substantive issues of MS’s appeal of the 2004 ruling that went against Microsoft.  Procedurally, at this point Microsoft may only further appeal on points of law rather than of fact according to the story provided.  Microsoft was ruled to have harmed consumers rights to choice by unjustifiably tying new applications to its software.

The ruling was the first ever broadcast live by the 13 Judge, Grand Chamber of the Court of First Instance, located in Luxembourg.

Microsoft has not demonstrated the existence of objective
justification for the bundling, and … the remedy imposed by
the Commission is proportionate,” the court statement said.

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This is a victory against one of the largest corporations in the world, and it is a victory for the idea that free software providers can compete against the giants who dominate the industry-if the power of the government is allowed to prevent the exercise of monompoly practices.  Free Software Foundation, a maker of free, and open software, is considered to be one of the big winners in the ruling according to the Reuters story, and Microsofts General Counsel has promised to obey the law.  But really the winner here is more than just a particular company, or a particular set of code writers and users, this is a case where at least a battle in the war to free the internets has been successfully contested.

I’m not a software writer, and no kind of an expert on the tubes in general, but it seems to me that the fight about what constitutes fair practices is one of the great issues of the rise of the internet, along with what should be allowed under copyright rules that are struggling to keep pace with technology, and licensing regulations that are being gamed by the corporations.

Microsoft shares traded in Frankfurt were down 2 percent at
20.40 euros at 1021 GMT, underperforming the European technology
index which was down 0.4 percent. About 15,000 shares had
changed hands, roughly the 30-day average daily trading volume.

My guess is that there will be many corporations that lose some of their value if they are forced to do business by rules, and while it may hurt shareholders, it should greatly benefit the general population.  Hopefully we will get some residual good from the European decision.

5 comments

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    • snud on September 17, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. In 1988-89, most PCs ran MS-DOS with no graphical user interface and things were pretty primitive.

    There were all sorts of companies back then that made software to do things like defrag your hard disk or compress files, etc.

    Like Sauron’s great eye, Microsoft would look down upon them and simply annihilate them by “building it in” to the next version of their (mostly crappy) operating system.

    One by one these smaller companies – and all their employees – would fall by the wayside, unable to match the money required to stand a chance in court.

    We used to sell, install and support a Network Operating System called Novell NetWare. It allowed people to (gasp!) connect their PCs to share disks, printers, etc. I installed hundreds of these networks in businesses like banks, lawyer’s offices, etc. It worked great.

    Once again, Microsoft obliterated them when they very briefly and initially came out with the first version of “NT” that had networking built right in. (They also around this time signed a pact with IBM to support their look-alike “OS/2” and subsequently broke the agreement so they could work on Windows; where’s OS/2 today?)

    Novell still (barely) exists but it’s a shadow of the company it once was. Bill Gates can be a very ruthless guy and while I suppose his heart’s in the right place with respect to Africa, sometimes charity begins at home. The guy could probably buy Africa now.

  1. … after the Bush 43 DOJ undid all the Clinton DOJ’s hard work and handed Microsoft a sweetheart deal.

    • pfiore8 on September 18, 2007 at 2:35 am

    is a win for the rest of us

    thanks N2

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