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South Korea: Microsoft is Guilty. Again.
Wednesday, December 07 2005 @ 11:52 AM EST

The Korea Fair Trade Commission's released its decision [PDF] today in its investigation of Microsoft. The KFTC found that bundling of Windows Media Service, Windows Media Player, and instant messaging was anti-competitive, and ordered remedies including unbundling instant messaging and Media Player from Windows, a $32M fine, and a 10-year supervision period. I guess that is like probation.

Despite its warnings of withdrawing Windows from the Korea market, Microsoft's deputy general counsel Thomas Burt said in an interview with Reuters Television, "We do not believe that this remedy will require Microsoft to withdraw Windows from Korea."

Press reports of the decision:

ZDNET UK
Yahoo 1
Reuters
Yahoo 2

So Microsoft did a deal with Real Networks, and it did them no good at all. I wonder if that's the end of that strategy? Speaking of strategies, when does Microsoft grasp what the problem is and just quit it? Microsoft says it will appeal.

ZDNET points out that the judge in the US antitrust case, US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, was upset with Microsoft for coming up with "a marketing agreement that would have forbidden portable music player makers from bundling anything except Windows Media Player with their devices." It never went out of the building, so to speak, and Microsoft's attorney seems to have presented it to the court as a woops on the part of an employee (right, a lawyer, which this presumably was, doesn't know how to draw up a contract without breaking antitrust laws, without violating the US settlement, and without doing precisely what South Korea was investigating them for?), and Kollar-Kotelly, incredibly, said she was "pleased at the renewed vigor in compliance efforts," but hey, Massachusetts, are you paying attention at all? Microsoft made some promises about its XML. But, at some point, doesn't Microsoft's credibility need to be considered a factor when they make promises? Isn't it three times and you're out?

As for inconvenience in switching away from Microsoft products and life as we've known it, the South Korean findings has some advice for consumers:

On the other hand, the possibility that certain consumers and related businesses may temporarily be inconvenienced cannot be ruled out. Nevertheless, if there is to be any minor inconvenience, it is expected to be short term. Therefore, consumers are asked to persevere such inconvenience and consider it as a way to participatae in remedying the harm of monopoly, promoting competition and developing software industry.

They have some advice for Microsoft too:

Finally, Microsoft, as the largest sofware business in the world, is urged to bear in mind that its market position asks for a corresponding responsibility. Accordingly, the KFTC requests Microsoft to exert efforts so that its customers will not be inconvenienced and their satisfaction should be increased.

Wouldn't that be refreshing? They could start by supporting ODF, so that the disabled and the rest of us are not "inconvenienced" and our customer satisfaction "should be increased."


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