European Commission Reaches Decision To Fine Microsoft, Report Says

Financial Times

Microsoft would not comment on the report but maintained that negotiations with the European Commission are still ongoing.

"They haven't formally contacted us [about the reported decision]," Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said Tuesday morning, maintaining the company is in active negotiations with the commission and remains hopeful for an amicable settlement.

"The process isn't over. There's still a possibility we can settle this thing short of a negative decision from the commission," Desler said.

However, the published report claims the Brussels-based organization has concluded that the software company should be fined and the commission has drawn up a draft decision that will be voted on by May. While some say the decision is final, some published reports speculate that the leak of the draft is designed to force more concessions out of Microsoft, sources say.

Sponsored post

Following a three-and-a-half-year investigation, the European Commission has asked Microsoft to pay a fine, unbundle its Media Player program from Windows and share more information with competitors.

One prominent open-source developer who works on OpenOffice, the code that competes against Microsoft Office, said it's still a wait-and-see game, but he is pleased so far. "We'll have to see what the ruling says when it airs publicly, but Microsoft's abuse of its dominant market position is well-documented, globally, so if the EU toes the line and offers penalties, that's certainly more than the U.S. government has been capable of to date," said Sam Hiser, a developer at "In context, though, of the rising competition Microsoft faces today from open standards--represented in open-source software products such as Linux, Apache, OpenOffice, Mozilla, Evolution--this is not of much importance. It's in the past. Microsoft is irrelevant, regardless, and their business is dying."

While some observers believe the decision will level the playing field for companies offering alternative Linux products, one Microsoft solution provider claimed the decision from across the pond is suspect.

"It seems to me that the whole EU investigation and findings are politically motivated and inept," said Ken Winell, president of Econium, a Microsoft solution provider in Totowa, N.J. "The organization is riddled with lobbyists both for and against Microsoft. That said, Microsoft should play nice and not do anything it would not do in the U.S. However, bundling media and other features in Windows is better for consumers, and I am still trying to understand how this is a bad thing."

One security consultant also contests the notion that Microsoft should be punished for integrating features into Windows that are competitive with third-party offerings. "The draft finding of the European Union suggesting that Microsoft has exhibited anticompetitive behavior by embedding the media player into the operating system is not a new argument. It is the same argument we've heard for years when Microsoft embedded TCP/IP, a disk defragmentation tool, a browser and other features that the market demands," said Adam Lipson, president and CEO of Network and Security Technologies, a consulting firm in Pearl River, N.Y. "I know of no other industry where we punish manufacturers for improving their products."