EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

03.06.13

Microsoft Fine is Fine, But What Else Will be Done? (Updated: FSFE Says EU Fine Not Enough as Punishment for Microsoft’s Abuses)

Posted in Antitrust, Microsoft at 8:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A $730,000,000 fine for Microsoft’s Web browser abuses and refusal to obey the law (or comply with penalties)

AS EXPECTED, a fine for Microsoft to pay for its abuses was to be announced today, as even the state media (in the United States) stated today:

On Wednesday, the European Union is expected to impose a large fine on Microsoft for failing to give users of the company’s Windows software a choice of Internet browsers. It would be the first time that European regulators had punished a company for neglecting to comply with the terms of an antitrust settlement, and it could signal a tougher approach to enforcing deals in other antitrust cases, including one involving Google.

Microsoft and officials at the European Commission reached an antitrust settlement in 2009 that called on the company to give Windows users in Europe a choice of Web browsers instead of pushing them to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. But Microsoft failed to offer users such a choice for more than a year — apparently without anyone at the company or the commission noticing.

The fine is now known, and it’s less than a billion dollars, far less than Microsoft has gained owing to this illegally-obtained monopoly:

Europe hits Microsoft with $730M fine over browser choice ‘error’

Microsoft was naughty and got caught, and now it has to pay handsomely. Here’s the rundown on what happened, why it mattered, and why it may not happen again in quite the same way.

Be prepared for Microsoft apologists and PR folks to vilify the European authorities over it. As a little bit of background, consider reading:

  1. Huge Fines for Microsoft Browser Offences
  2. Cablegate: European Commission Worried About Microsoft’s Browser Ballot Screen Being Inappropriate
  3. Microsoft’s Browser Ballot is Broken Again and Internet Explorer 8 is Critically Flawed
  4. Microsoft’s Ballot Screen is a Farce, Decoy
  5. A Ballot Screen is Not Justice, Internet Explorer Still Compromises Users’ PCs
  6. Microsoft Not Only Broke the Law in Europe, So Browser Ballot Should Become International
  7. Browser Ballot Critique
  8. Microsoft’s Fake “Choice” Campaign is Back
  9. Microsoft Claimed to be Cheating in Web Browsers Ballot
  10. Microsoft Loses Impact in the Web Despite Unfair Ballot Placements
  11. Given Choice, Customers Reject Microsoft
  12. Microsoft is Still Cheating in Browser Ballot — Claim
  13. Microsoft Does Not Obey the Law

As justice is too slow, the fine is too little and it’s too late. Just watch this decades-old antitrust case still going on, as Groklaw noted the other day:

A date for oral argument in the WordPerfect antitrust battle, Novell v Microsoft, has been set. It’s May 6, at 9 AM in Courtroom II at the Byron White US Courthouse in Denver, Colorado.

Yes, long after WordPerfect had been made virtually dead judges failed to rule indefinitely and no justice was ever restored. Microsoft has made many billions using the office suite monopoly it illegally obtained. And Novell has been robbed naked by Microsoft since then, rendering one side in this legal battle a lot less potent.

The moral of the story is, if you are a big corporation like Microsoft or Goldman Sachs, the cost of committing crimes is just a minor cost of doing business and it pays off in the long run. Crime is like an investment and nobody ever goes to jail if you are “too big (or groomed) to fail”. The following caricature (no attribution known) expresses this well.

Monopoly

Update: Linking to reports like this one about the fine, the FSFE’s president says:

Microsoft just can’t avoid getting into trouble with competition watchdogs.

Today, the European Commission slapped the company with a fine of EUR 561 million (ca. USD 731 million) for breaching a 2009 settlement over the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows. Under this agreement, Microsoft promised to display a “browser choice” screen on Windows installs in Europe, inviting users to choose other browsers besides the company’s own program.

[...]

Faced with a blatant breach of the agreed settlement, the Commission had no choice but to act decisively. The alternative of doing nothing, or imposing a minimal token fine, would have made European competition regulators look like paper tigers.

As Microsoft has now, again, learned to its cost, the EC demands to be taken seriously on such things.

Yet while large in absolute terms, the fine amounts to 1% of the company’s revenue in 2012. There is a danger that companies of this size see regulatory interference as a mere cost of doing business, rather than as an impulse to mend their ways. To achieve this, more forceful measures may be necessary, such as excluding offenders from public procurement for a limited amount of time.

A punishment “such as excluding offenders from public procurement for a limited amount of time” may be an interesting option, but still, it is too soft on people who knowingly abuse the law. Why not suggest jail terms? Is it too radical a suggestion to put white-collar criminals in prison in the age of rampant financial abuses and illicit wars? Have we lost a sense of moral by putting only poor people in jail (class incarceration)?

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Microsoft's and Bill Gates' Biggest Patent Troll (Intellectual Ventures) Suffers Setback and Nokia is Dead While Patents Scattered to Microsoft Patent Proxies

    Microsoft's patent collectors (trolls) are to have a feast with Nokia patents while Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft's largest patent proxy, continues to attack companies including Motorola



  2. Patent Racketeering Continues With Nadella: Motorola the Latest to Join the FUD Campaign

    Nadella continues Ballmer's campaign of intimidation and alienation, showing that nothing has changed at Microsoft, not even the FUD



  3. Links 23/4/2014: GNOME Maps Application, LG in Headlines

    Links for the day



  4. Links 22/4/2014: More GNU/Linux Gains, Syria Updates

    Links for the day



  5. Links 21/4/2014: New Games for GNU/Linux, Some NatSec Politics

    Links for the day



  6. Site Focus for The Remainder of the Year

    What we plan for the rest of 2014 and why



  7. Links 20/4/2014: EFF FOSS, Easter Drone Strikes, Copyright Industry Fear of Google

    Links for the day



  8. Links 19/4/2014: Slow Easter News Day

    Links for the day



  9. Links 18/4/2014: New KDE, Kubuntu, and More

    Links for the day



  10. Some Perspective on Heartbleed®

    Our views on the whole Heartbleed® bonanza, which seems like partly a PR stunt (for multiple stakeholders)



  11. Microsoft is Leaving Windows -- Including Vista 8.1 -- Vulnerable to Non-Government Crackers, Not Only to NSA

    Microsoft makes it ever more evident that securing users of Windows is not at all a priority, and perhaps not even a desire



  12. Links 17/4/2014: Android RDP, New Ubuntu, RHEL 7 Milestone

    Links for the day



  13. Racing to 1984: Mass Surveillance, Cracking, 'Targeted' Assassinations, and Illegal Torture

    Links for the day



  14. More Microsoft Subsidies to Patent Troll Intellectual Ventures

    Microsoft hands money to Bill Gates' close friend who is the world's largest patent troll



  15. Aiding Microsoft Under the Disguise of 'Pro-FOSS'

    Not everything which is FOSS necessary becomes, by virtue of existence, a positive contribution, as we are constantly reminded by projects that help proprietary software and/or restrictions get a strong grip on FOSS



  16. Links 16/4/2014: Red Hat PR, Ubuntu LTS Imminent

    Links for the day



  17. Links 15/4/2014: Lots of PCLinuxOS Releases, Ukraine Updates

    Links for the day



  18. Apple and Microsoft Actively Lobbying Against Patent Reform in the US

    Apple and Microsoft are reportedly intervening/interfering with US law in order to ensure that the law is Free/libre software-hostile



  19. Lawsuit by Microsoft Shareholder Targets Fine for Crimes Rather Than the Crimes Themselves

    A new lawsuit by a Microsoft shareholder shows everything that's wrong with today's model of accountability, where those who are responsible for crimes are accused of not avoiding fines rather than committing the crimes



  20. Public Institutions Must Dump PRISM-Associated Software

    Another reminder that taxpayers-subsidised services should refuse, as a matter of principle, to pay anything for -- let alone deploy -- proprietary software with back doors



  21. GNU/Linux News: The Opportunities Amid XP EOL

    Links for the day



  22. Microsoft Gets Its Money's Worth From Xamarin: PlayStation 4 Now Polluted by Microsoft

    The Trojan horse of Microsoft, Xamarin, is pushing .NET into Microsoft's console competitor



  23. After Brendan Eich Comes Chris Beard

    Having removed Brendan Eich using bullying and blackmail tactics, his foes inside Mozilla achieved too little as we have yet another man (coming from inside Mozilla) acting as CEO



  24. Healthcare News: Free Software in Health, Humanitarian Causes

    Links for the day



  25. Links 14/4/2014: MakuluLinux, Many Games, More Privacy News and Pulitzer Prize for NSA Revelations

    Links for the day



  26. TechBytes Episode 87: Catching up With Surveillance (NSA, GCHQ et al.)

    The first audio episode in a very long time covers some of the latest happenings when it comes to privacy and, contrariwise, mass surveillance



  27. Server News: KVM, ElasticHosts, Other GNU/Linux Items, and Open Network Linux

    Links for the day



  28. Hardware News: Freedom, Modding, Hackability on the Rise

    Links for the day



  29. Distributions News: GNU/Linux Distros

    Links for the day



  30. GNOME News: Financial Issues, Mutter-Wayland, West Coast Summit, Community Participation

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts