The EU’s case against Microsoft September 21, 2007Posted by sk in Microsoft.
The recent ruling by the European Court of First Instance came as a surprise to me. I thought Neelie Kroes had gone too far in her efforts to make Microsoft bend or break and the court would cut down some of her powers. The strong endorsement of her methods by the court does not set a good precedent in my opinion. Neelie has taken it upon herself to reduce Microsoft’s market share. The problem is that Windows’ market share was not achieved forcefully. Microsoft never forced people to buy Windows PCs. Buy a Mac if you want to. I don’t think either the company or the Government is forcing you to buy a Windows PC. Actually, this type of monopoly by force exists only in communist, autocratic or even socialist countries. My personal opinion is that the Government should step in when a company indulges in anti-consumer tactics but not when a rival company that is unable to come up with good products complains. Excessive Government interference ultimately does more harm to the consumer than good.
I do agree that some of the fines against Microsoft were justified. The company did indulge in strong arm tactics to keep its monopoly. However, the bundling issue itself is kind of tricky. Given that an OS is used mainly for word processing, music, and internet browsing, isn’t it necessary for an OS to have these three programs? While I do agree that Microsoft’s motivations in bundling an internet browser and a media player with Windows in the 90s may not have been noble, things have changed a lot since then. These programs are integral parts of the OS and any Government that asks a company to unbundle these is still living in the dark ages in my opinion. I’m surprised that they really think unbundling the media player from Windows will help consumers. Also, for those who think it unbundling WMP from Windows offers an incentive to OEMs to bundle rival media players, they have no idea how these things work. My computer came bundled with all sorts of crap –even when Microsoft had similar programs in Windows– because the OEM had entered into monetary agreements with software publishers.
Ruhi has written a post that in my opinion is low on facts and high on emotions. She supports the EU ruling against Microsoft because of her dislike for Microsoft. It’s probably going to surprise her to know that once the EU is done with Microsoft (and I don’t think they’re going to be done any time soon. As mini msft remarks, “”I can’t see the EU dropping this bone while the meat is still sweet.”* What is going to happen now is that the EU is going to take a closer look at Office and Vista. We’ll probably see more versions of Windows in the future in Europe – ‘N’ version without the media player, ‘I’ version without the internet browser, ‘F’ version without the firewall and so on. Moreover, rivals such as Google and IBM will probably file more complaints against Microsoft just to keep EU’s eyes off of them.
By the way, a lot of people have drawn comparisons between Ma Bell and Microsoft. However, if you read the Wikipedia article on Ma Bell, you realize that their stories are as different as chalk and cheese or even an MBA and common sense.
<Note: After talking to my shrink, I decided to rewrite this article and remove most of the personal attacks. I also decided to refer to this anonymous blogger by her name. It’s healthier, my shrink says. :-)>
*He also compares Neelie Kroes to Dolores Umbridge, a Harry Potter character. I don’t know much about this character but the Wikipedia entry on her says she is one of the villians.
UPDATE: Ruhi is under the impression that I do not think she knows the meaning of a “monopoly”. I didn’t say that. I would assume that she knows (or at least I hope she knows) the meaning of the word. The fact is her post seems to imply that Microsoft achieved a monopoly for its “crappy products” illegally, when in fact, that is not true. Comparing Microsoft to WalMart is also naive and shows a lack of understanding of how businesses work but I won’t get into that.
The EC accuses Microsoft of monopoly abuse because the market share of Windows Server has gone up during recent times. Can it just be because it’s a better product? Naah. It’s Microsoft. Also, the point that the EC makes about bundling is also debatable, as I mentioned earlier in this post.
By the way, I’m not the only one who thinks this ruling is not going to help consumers. The US DOJ released a statement against the verdict. I would comment on her blog but my comments keep getting deleted for some reason.
Oh, and before I end this, Ruhi get’s one thing right: my biggest regret i life is not that I’m not on the MS payroll. :-)