EU prepares second case against Microsoft
Sunday 21 March 2004
European competition authorities are preparing a second probe into alleged anti-competitive behaviour by Microsoft, the world's largest software company.
Mario Monti, the European Competition Commissioner, will rule on Wednesday that the company abused its near monopoly in the PC operating-system market. The ruling, which centres on Microsoft's Media Player software, will come after talks over a possible settlement broke down last week between Mr Monti and Microsoft's chief executive, Steve Ballmer. Microsoft now faces a fine of up to €2.5bn (£1.7bn).
But this ruling will open the door to a fresh European investigation into wider claims that the company violated European laws though its Windows XP operating system. The complaint was made by Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), a trade organisation whose members include Oracle, Sun Microsystems and Yahoo!
A spokeswoman for Mr Monti said: "We are in preliminary investigations."
Ed Black, the president of CCIA, said: "We are pleased that the EC didn't settle as this will allow the European authorities to deal with future Microsoft cases. The Commission is taking our complaint seriously. It has sent the letters to us. The process is going on.
"A lot of people do not want to live in a Microsoft-only world. Microsoft has a way of making its anti-competitive tools support the monopoly efforts in other areas. If the commission finds the scheme anti-competitive then it will need to impose sweeping, structural remedies."
Microsoft said of the CCIA allegations: "We will look at the issues when they are raised and address them if necessary."
Wednesday's ruling will see the commission force Microsoft to produce two versions of its operating systems: one with the Media Player and a stripped down version without it.
PC makers will then have the choice of buying the basic operating system and doing a separate deal with one of Microsoft's rivals to supply software to play music and videos.
However, it is unclear whether the commission will force Microsoft to sell the stripped-down version at a lower price. "If there is no difference in price then the ruling will have no impact," said David Smith, a research fellow at Gartner. He also cast doubt on Microsoft's potential fine: "Even if Europe imposes the highest fine then Microsoft has the money. It would be a bump in the road."
Microsoft is expected to appeal against the ruling. A Microsoft spokesman said: "Microsoft and the commission have agreed to disagree. But we need to find a single rule on how to address future issues of technology integration. One way to do that is to take it to the courts and test it."
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
iJobs Money & Business
$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer Office...
$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...
Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...
Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...