Microsoft was hit hard the pocketbook today. The European Court finally ruled on an antitrust case that was started back in 2004. It was decided that the European Commission was right to make Microsoft offer a version of Windows without Media Player included. It was also deemed fair that Microsoft provide interoperability information to those who develop server operating systems:
Work group server operating systems of Microsoft’s competitors must be able to interoperate with Windows domain architecture on an equal footing with Windows operating systems if they are to be capable of being marketed viably. The absence of such interoperability has the effect of reinforcing Microsoft’s competitive position on the market and creates a risk that competition will be eliminated.
Microsoft Watch decided to see what a few Microsoft employees had to say about the ruling, and here are the two that really hit home for me:
Nearly 20-year Microsoft veteran:
"This decision doesn’t exactly make me want to innovate. This sets a potentially dangerous precedent. The EU wants companies to hand over their hard-earned IP [intellectual property] basically for free to competitors and seemingly believes that innovation is only OK if it doesn’t confer an advantage, which is paradoxical. What next? Pharmaceutical? Will all new drugs go generic from Day 1?"
Former nine-year Microsoft veteran and current stockholder:
"Every time you come up with a cool idea for a product, you now have to ask, ‘I wonder who is going to complain about this one?’"
It’s things like this that hinder Microsoft from being innovative, but I guess $690 million is the price you have to pay to have a 90% market share. I mean Mac OS X comes with iTunes, and they don’t seem to have any enemies. If they had a much larger market share, however, they would probably be in the same boat as Microsoft.
This isn’t going to be the last time that Microsoft will hear from the European Union either. Just last year they started another antitrust suit in regards security measures that Microsoft had put in place for Vista. Security vendors were not able to change the kernel at run-time in 64-bit versions of Vista, and they weren’t too happy about that.
So who is all this nonsense really helping? I don’t think consumers are the ones who win this time.