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. Links 31/10/2014: Rubin Leaves Google, Neelie Kroes Ends EU Career

    Links for the day



  2. The EPO Is More Corrupt Under Battistelli Than Under Alison Brimelow: Part VIII

    After Brimelow, with all her flaws and her scandals, an even worse President is installed who then abolishes oversight and seemingly brings his old friends to the EPO, creating a sort of subculture that is impenetrable to outsiders



  3. Claiming That Microsoft 'Loves' Linux While Windows Update Bricks Devices With Linux

    The sheer absurdity of claims that Microsoft -- which not only attacks those who distribute Linux and GNU but also blackmails them, takes them to court, or bricks their products without any liability -- 'loves' Linux



  4. Protectionist Reign: Corporations in Complete Control of Everything With Domination Over Patent Law

    How multinational corporations, joined by the corporate press that they are funding, promote a corporations- but not people-friendly patent policy in north America



  5. Links 30/10/2014: GNOME 3.15.1, Red Hat Software Collections 1.2

    Links for the day



  6. Links 29/10/2014: Ubuntu Touch Tablet, Puppy Linux 6.0

    Links for the day



  7. Links 28/10/2014: SUSE Linux Enterprise 12, Canonical OpenStack Distro

    Links for the day



  8. Links 28/10/2014: PiFxOS, The Document Foundation in OSBA

    Links for the day



  9. Microsoft is Bricking Devices With Linux (Yet Again!), So a Microsoft Booster Spins/Paints Linux Devices as 'Fakes'

    Microsoft delivers rogue drivers through Windows Update and they brick Arduino microcontrollers



  10. How Bill Gates Continues to Pass Wealth From the Public to His Own Bank Account

    Having put a universal tax on many things (not just computers) and evaded tax using the classic 'charity' trick, Gates is now buying the media, the schools, politicians etc. and earns as much as 10 billion dollars per year while the public is taught that Gates is a giver, not a hoarder of the worst kind



  11. Links 27/10/2014: Lenovo Unbundling, Linux 3.18 RC2

    Links for the day



  12. IRC Proceedings: September 14th, 2014 – October 25th, 2014

    Many IRC logs



  13. Links 25/10/2014: KDE Mockups, Update on GNOME Outreach Program for Women

    Links for the day



  14. After Infecting Unity -- Successfully -- Microsoft's Partner Xamarin Wants to Infect Unreal Engine With .NET

    Xamarin continues to spread dependence on Microsoft to more gaming frameworks, not just platforms such as GNU/Linux, Android, and even permanent-state devices



  15. Taking Microsoft Windows Off the Grid for Damage to Businesses, the Internet, and Banking Systems

    Microsoft's insecure-by-design software is causing massive damages ([cref 27802 possibly trillions] of [cref 13992 dollars in damages to date]) and yet the corporate press does not ask the right questions, let alone suggest a ban on Microsoft software



  16. City of Berlin Does Not Abandon Free Software, It's Only Tax Authorities

    A Softpedia report that says the City of Berlin is moving to Microsoft Office is flawed and may be based on a poor translation



  17. Nadella a Liar in Chief at Microsoft, Pretending That His Anti-Competitive Practices Are Unfortunately Imposed on Microsoft

    The nastiness of Microsoft knows no bounds as even its assault on GNU/Linux and dirty tricks against Free software adoption are characterised as the fault of 'pirates'



  18. Reuters Writes About the Demise of Software Patents, But Focuses on 'Trolls' and Quotes Lawyers

    How the corporate media chooses to cover the invalidity of many software patents and the effect of that



  19. Links 24/10/2014: Microsoft Tax Axed in Italy, Google's Linux (ChromeOS/Android) Leader Promoted

    Links for the day



  20. Links 24/10/2014: GNU/Linux History, Fedora Delay

    Links for the day



  21. Links 23/10/2014: New *buntu, Benchmarks

    Links for the day



  22. Links 22/10/2014: Chromebooks Surge, NSA Android Endorsement

    Links for the day



  23. Links 21/10/2014: Debian Fork Debate, New GNU IceCat

    Links for the day



  24. Criminal Microsoft is Censoring the Web and Breaks Laws to Do So; the Web Should Censor (Remove) Microsoft

    Microsoft is still breaking the Internet using completely bogus takedown requests (an abuse of DMCA) and why Microsoft Windows, which contains weaponised back doors (shared with the NSA), should be banned from the Internet, not just from the Web



  25. Microsoft 'Loving' GNU/Linux and Other Corporate Media Fiction

    Microsoft has bullied or cleverly bribed enough technology-centric media sites to have them characterise Microsoft as a friend of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) that also "loves Linux"



  26. India May be Taking Bill Gates to Court for Misusing His So-called 'Charity' to Conduct Clinical Trials Without Consent on Behalf of Companies He Invests in

    Bill Gates may finally be pulled into the courtroom again, having been identified for large-scale abuses that he commits in the name of profit (not "charity")



  27. The Problems With Legal Workarounds, Patent Scope, and Expansion of Patent Trolls to the East

    Patent trolls are in the news again and it's rather important, albeit for various different reasons, more relevant than the ones covered here in the past



  28. Links 20/10/2014: Cloudera and Red Hat, Debian 7.7, and Vivid Vervet

    Links for the day



  29. Links 20/10/2014: 10 Years Since First Ubuntu Release

    Links for the day



  30. How Patent Lawyers Analyze Alice v. CLS Bank

    Breaking down a patent lawyer's analysis of a Supreme Court's decision that seemingly invalidated hundreds of thousands of software patents


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