Tue Sep 18, 2007 02:41
Microsoft's EU antitrust case and the American baseball season share a common feature: both are interminable. But even baseball seasons and court cases come to an end, and Microsoft's antitrust case is nearly there. Three-and-a-half years after the European Commission first found Microsoft to be abusing its dominant market position in Europe, the EU's Court of First Instance has smacked down Microsoft's appeal and upheld the original ?497 million ($688 million) fine against the company.
The entire case revolved around two main issues: Microsoft's "tying" of its media player to the operating system and its unwillingness to disclose the full specifications for several of its networking protocols. After determining that Microsoft had abused its dominant market position, the Commission tried to address the two issues in early 2004 by requiring Microsoft to sell a version of Windows without a media player. The company also had to publish the complete specs for its server networking protocols.
To oversee the documentation effort, the Commission appointed a Monitoring Trustee, a British computer science professor named Neil Barrett. Under the initial ruling, Microsoft had to pay every expense of Barrett's: his salary, transportation costs, photocopying bills, etc. Barrett also had complete access to Microsoft facilities, personnel, documentation, and even source code; the arrangement was unprecedented in its scope.
The Commission also laid a hefty ?497 million fine on Microsoft.