Who cares? Why is a fine even appropriate in this case?

Story: EU Commission fines Microsoft $731 million, but does it really matter?Total Replies: 15
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Mar 07, 2013
9:46 AM EDT
Big question:

Does Apple offer a choice of two browsers?

The thinking behind the fine, not to mention even caring about such things, is rooted in turn of the century reality. Not to say anything, but it's been 13 years since Y2K, and the world is a different place. Macs are on the rebound, but the real news is in tablets and smart phones. I saw a statistic recently that more than 10% of all web visits are now made by phones, a figure that had doubled in just 2 years.

And -- look at the usage stats in the article. They showed that, even in the United States, IE accounted for just over 40% of web traffic. That's a loooooong way from the day when IE held more than 90% and de facto standards were whatever Microsoft said they are.

How long before Chrome is tops in the US, too? Most people already know how to install an alternate browser, which means more will learn.

It seems time to get over this weird Microsoft obsession so many free software folk have. Microsoft is fat and dumb. They now fail with regularity. Want to obsess? Try Apple and Google. They have a lot more to do with the world of now and the world of tomorrow than Microsoft does.


Mar 07, 2013
10:04 AM EDT
I never understood the ruling in the first place. I don't understand the idea that Microsoft is bad for bundling their own media player embedded in as part of their operating system or their browser embedded as part of their operating system.

When I buy a car it often comes with the manufacturer's seats and doors and basically everything else belonging to that manufacturer. Nowhere am I told that there are seats from other companies that can be added.

I can think of no other product that is sold that has an obligation to advertise other people's products. Yes Microsoft used to have a monopoly with their operating system and because of that they had a monopoly on their browser and media player.

It really was up to the competition to come up with something that was an alternative. Apple achieved that goal by making products that were perceived to be cool. Google managed that by coming up with the search engine first and then diversifying into office products and operating systems.

I don't think Microsoft owe a penny to the EU in this instance. It is this sort of thinking by the EU that makes consumers have to pay more for the same product.

For example I used to subscribe to Sky Sports and for my one payment a month I could watch all the English Premier League matches. The EU came in and said "Sky you have a monopoly you must let someone else show football". So in the past few years we have had ondigital (ITV digital), ESPN and others now showing the football on a subscription basis. My Sky Sports bill did not come down in price so now I would have to pay both Sky to watch football and another service. How does that benefit the consumer? The end result was that I cancelled my Sky Sports subscription.


Mar 07, 2013
10:21 AM EDT
Monopolies are inherently unstable, so the prosecutions are absurd. As this fine shows, by the time the bureaucrats catch up with the market, the market has already left the supposed "evil" situation behind.

When even the mainstream press say things like, "Internet Explorer 11 is the best IE ever at downloading a different browser", how can anyone not laugh?

Mar 07, 2013
11:00 AM EDT
BR --

Yes and no.

They are unstable, but prosecutions aren't necessarily absurd because unstable doesn't have to mean "any time soon", and a decade is a Very Long Time in some industries.

Prosecuting Microsoft NOW, however, is idiotic.

Mar 07, 2013
11:30 AM EDT
I prefer "the light of day" to prosecution.

When it was arguable that Microsoft was in a monopoly position, they achieved that by giving people they wanted. The ability to share files seamlessly across businesses, languages, continents.

Once people grew accustomed to that convenience, the idea that such sharing could occur across platforms as well was what was needed in order for the perception of monopoly to be broken.

And broken it has been. All the prosecutions in the world would not have convinced people that they didn't need to buy Microsoft in order to share data. That change simply required time.

Speaking of time, indeed 10 years is a long time in some industries. That's why "time to market" is the most important aspect, and punishing a firm for "monopoly" just because they're first to market would crush innovation.

Mar 07, 2013
11:34 AM EDT
BR -

We don't punish companies for being first to market.

I don't recall any prosecutions of Commodore, Tandy, Yahoo, or Myspace.

Mar 07, 2013
12:36 PM EDT
Quoting:Prosecuting Microsoft NOW, however, is idiotic.

No it is not, the EU needs money now and it is pay back time for all of MS previous shenanigans. The US Gov. should have done that long time ago to balance the budget. -:)


Mar 07, 2013
12:48 PM EDT
When you put it that way -- There's gold in them thar hills!

And -- why stop at Microsoft?

There's a whole world of evil corps out there!

Mar 07, 2013
1:21 PM EDT
> We don't punish companies for being first to market

It is my opinion that that is exactly what Microsoft got prosecuted for. "First to Desktop".

> There's a whole world of evil corps out there!

Any day now, Dino. Although I'm wondering which will be first, corporate "profits" or 401(K) nationalization.

Mar 07, 2013
1:27 PM EDT
Quoting:And -- why stop at Microsoft?

It is better 2nd time around, and it gets easier next time around.

Quoting:There's a whole world of evil corps out there!

And who is the biggest of them all? Hint: Ultimate power is a monopoly.


Mar 07, 2013
2:12 PM EDT
Bob_Robertson wrote:It is my opinion that that is exactly what Microsoft got prosecuted for. "First to Desktop".

I'd like to explain that I have no position on whether or not Microsoft should have been prosecuted. However, I see two problems with the opinion that they were prosecuted for being "First to Desktop."

One problem is that Microsoft was not "First to Desktop" in any sense that I would agree with. What does "First to Desktop" mean? They weren't the first to create and/or sell a personal computer operating system. Tandy, Commodore, Digital Research, Apple, etc. all had them beat. They weren't the first to create and/or sell a GUI based operating system. Both Commodore and Apple had them beat again (edit: I forgot to mention Atari). They weren't even the first third party to sell an operating system. At least Digital Research did that before them.

What Microsoft's success stemmed from initially was being the company that made the operating system that IBM chose to put on their personal computer line. IBM had credibility in business, so, though there were technologically superior options available, they were adopted by businesses (probably the fact that business owners/managers felt they could count on business support from IBM figured into that). They worked their way into homes because people at home bought computers to be compatible with those that they used at work.

The second problem is that Microsoft was prosecuted for anti-competitive practices rather than for being a success (although the idea that they were prosecuted for success is much more supportable than for being first). It was well documented that Microsoft resorted to fake error messages, contrived incompatibility, exclusivity deals, and so on in order to maintain their success. Note that none of these things would be advantageous to a company without a large majority market share. That is the difference between anti-competitive practices and stupid business decisions. Whether they actually needed these tactics to hold IBM, BeOS, etc. at bay is debatable.

Mar 07, 2013
3:01 PM EDT
@CF --

Yes -- you're right, but please understand that being right in this case comes with a GIANT asterisk, one that IBM's Legendary Chariman Thomas J. Watson could not abide:

It's not necessarily that a monopoly does something that other companies do, but that it's market power makes those actions unacceptable. It really is punished for having a monopoly and playing the same hard-ball business that everybody else plays.

Mar 07, 2013
5:35 PM EDT
Microsoft agreed to the terms. It was a settlement.

Then Microsoft decided unilaterally that the settlement was "no good" and broke the terms of the settlement. They didn't petition the pertienent EU entities for an alteration in the terms. They just went and did what they wanted.

In this particular instance, the rest is academic.

Mar 07, 2013
6:37 PM EDT
@gus3 --

Yes. You are expected to do what you say you'll do.

Mar 08, 2013
4:27 AM EDT
Ironically something the EU's unelected gravy train fails to do is do what they say they are going to do. I could be pro europe based on the concept but I am anti europe at the moment based on the fact it is hard enough stopping the British politicians from being corrupt without having to deal with all the European politicians as well.

Mar 08, 2013
9:59 AM EDT
I'm only "pro Europe" in that I'm in favor of free trade and free movement.

But that's what, a two-sentence treaty?

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