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The EU Commission's Decision on Microsoft
Thursday, April 22 2004 @ 11:13 PM EDT

The EU Commission has released its decision in the Microsoft antitrust case, and you can read it, all 300 some pages of legalese, if you like that sort of thing. Personally, I can't wait. Really.

If you'd like to know what Microsoft indignantly says about it, you can do that too. They note that the EU Commission has rejected their desire to maintain their intellectual property for their own use. They don't want to have to share. It seems they are also very concerned about us customers and our need for dominant firms to be able to continue to innovate and integrate. I think with all the money they spend on lawyers and PR, they ought to be able to come up with something more believable than that. Oh, and the economy will suffer if Microsoft has to play fair.

Huh? I must have misread that last part.

Or, you can read all about how Microsoft tried to squeeze their new best friend, Sun, out of the server market and even read some emails about how patient consumers have to be to put up with the lousy software they offer us:

"That ruling found that the Redmond, Wash., company had failed to give rivals information that they needed to compete fairly in the market for server software and that it had been offering the Windows operating system on the condition that it come bundled with Windows Media Player, stifling competition. . . .

"The report also includes a memo written for Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates by C++ General Manager Aaron Contorer in 1997 that describes one of the reasons why he felt Microsoft's Windows operating system was becoming a must-have product for client PC vendors.

"Contorer wrote that end users stuck with Windows, despite the operating system's shortcomings, based on the high costs of abandoning heavy investments already made in APIs.

"'The Windows API is so broad, so deep and so functional that most ISVs (independent software vendors) would be crazy not to use it. And it is so deeply embedded in the source code of many Windows apps that there is a huge switching cost to using a different operating system, instead,' the e-mail reads.

"'It is this switching cost that has given the customers the patience to stick with Windows through all our mistakes, our buggy drivers, our high TCO (total cost of ownership), our lack of a sexy vision, at times, and many other difficulties,' the e-mail said. 'Customers constantly evaluate other desktop platforms, (but) it would be so much work to move over that they hope we just improve Windows rather than force them to move.'

"The commission also quotes an internal memo from Microsoft Senior Vice President Bob Muglia to the Developer Tools division, dated August 16, 1996, as saying: 'In short, without this exclusive franchise, called the Windows API, we would have been dead a long time ago.'"

This is why the Commission is telling MS to open up and share. It's their APIs, and they don't want to. Then they would actually have to improve their software instead of just imprisoning their customers. Didn't the most recent "independent" study say switching from Windows to GNU/Linux makes the TCO of Linux higher than just staying with Windows and upgrading? First they make it too costly to switch and then they say that extra cost is a good reason not to switch. I get it. It's not a bug. It's a feature.

And the economy will suffer if they have to quit this? I don't think so, guys. Microsoft's economy might suffer, but the rest of us will get along very nicely. I guess you could sum it up that Microsoft has been bad for so long, they feel an entitlement. So, no remorse. No mea culpa. Instead, this is going to go to court, it seems. That will be a fun case to follow closely.


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