Friday, April 11, 2008

Microsoft, EU and billions fine

Already more than once and not two, I predicted that the battle Microsoft and the executive European Union still very, very far from completion. But, in truth, never expecting that the prolonged strife in the TV series of communal flat suddenly become a tight thriller. However, that is exactly what happened on February 27.

Already 10 years I do an overview of the IT business, and all this time fined Microsoft Corporation. In my mind it fined for claims users and competitors, the antimonopoly authorities of different countries and territories on the initiatives of other departments. Thus, in the late 90 - x Microsoft tired potrepali prosecutors and the state Attorney General United States - many have not remember, but in America, Microsoft is still officially under procuratorial supervision. The reason classic - monopolistskie bearing software giant. But the protracted conflict and the exponential out between Microsoft and the European Union - more precisely, its Anti-Monopoly Office. The Europeans did not like (and dislike) very much. Not happy, in fact, a monopoly of Windows - but in this case too difficult to present a claim. Not like the privileged position Microsoft Office - and Europe for the third year in implementing various programmes for the transition to OpenOffice. A few years ago, the European Commission presented Microsoft claims due to the presence of Windows programs in the Windows Media Player - in the view of Europeans, it infringed on the right of a similar third-party software developers. At that time, Microsoft was fined for the first time in Europe at a truly large sum: the European Commission on competition recognized American corporations abused their dominant market position and fined it 497 million euros. In addition, European authorities claim that the amount of patent royalties charged by Microsoft is not fair. And now the European Commission fined Microsoft a record amount of 899 million euros for what is not complied with European antimonopolschikov available from March 2004 Taking into account other accruals total now is a record fine for the IT industry 1.68 billion euros. There will be appropriate to recall that exactly one year ago, an American court in San Diego ordered the company to pay damages Microsoft suffered a Franco-American company Alcatel-Lucent from violating its patent rights. The amount of compensation that had to pay Microsoft was then one and a half billion dollars. Alcatel-Lucent claim against Microsoft was filed in 2003. It argued that the computer company Dell and Gateway, which are partners of Microsoft illegally used Windows operating system, which used technology previously patented Alcatel-Lucent. The focus was on the algorithms work with mp3 audio files, which were used in the design of Windows Media Player.

But back to the current fine. Microsoft was the first private company in the 50 years of the competition law, which the EU fined for disobeying an order antimonopolschikov. This time around, European Commissioner for Competition Nely Cruz personally ordered the corporation paid 899 million euros. She expressed the hope that the trial will end. It was at this time above all to ensure the normal work of third-party server software developers with Microsoft operating systems. In Microsoft argued that trying to comply with all the requirements of the commission. Cruz responsible in the sense that badly tried. It is particularly annoying Nely Cruz endless promises Microsoft, which is already extremely tired all. Software corporation, of course, may try to challenge the decision of the anti-monopoly body. However, the chances of winning the appeal it a bit. Recall that in September 2007, the European Court has already affirmed the decision of commission, and earlier - in March 2007 - the corporation also reminded that the licensing royalties charged to the competitors must be "acceptable". Almost simultaneously with the awarding of the current record fine Microsoft promised soon discover program interfaces (API) of its major products, and provide free access to them. We are talking about Windows Vista operating system, Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 database management system and an office package Office 2007. Also to be published 30 thousand pages of documents on the client and server protocols, and a little later - the same documentation for Office 2007 and other popular products. All of this will be lined on the server corporation. So far, Microsoft partners for access to this type of information required to license access to trade secret corporation. Now not, however, as the current head of Microsoft, Steve Balmer, "the decision on disclosure little impact on the financial company." Although it did not help her in a protracted lawsuit with antimonopolschikami, in the future it will be very difficult for competitors to accuse Microsoft of closure. Moreover, according to analysts, even the immediate payment of 1.7 billion euros would not affect the ability of Microsoft to further development. In late February director Microsoft Steve Ballmer personally commented on the EU decision to impose a fine for a corporation. In an interview with CNET News columnist Steve Balmer said that the corporation is exactly fulfilled all requirements of the European Commission. According to the general director of Microsoft, the EU authorities agree that the corporation should be rendered by decree, while the fine imposed "for past misconduct" Microsoft. Moreover, Balmer noted that Microsoft knew about the upcoming penalty, but were not aware of the exact date of the decision.

Now, however, Microsoft is still отдуваться and Opera Company of the claim. Norwegian company Opera Software on December 13, 2007 stated that filed a complaint at the European Commission in Microsoft. Producer Opera browser asserts that the American corporation is using its dominant market position. Opera Software considers unfair tying of Internet Explorer to Windows. Moreover, the Norwegian company claimed in, the browser from Microsoft to not fully adheres to the web standards, which adversely affect the interoperability of system components. The complaint requests Opera Software Microsoft allow users to "choose" is really a browser, supplying competitors with Windows browsers Internet Explorer or separating from the main package. In addition, the company requires integrated into Internet Explorer support open standards for the web. The document has been sent to the European Commission, after last September the court decided to fine Microsoft nearly half a billion euros for illegally tying Windows Media Player to Windows. Opera is asked to draw an analogy, and to take the same decision about linking the browser to the OS. Opera, according to the TheCounter, is the fourth-most popular browser in the world - after Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. They enjoy less than one percent of all Internet users, but the browser is very respected in the Internet community. As a result, in particular, the complaint Opera Software in mid-January 2008, the European antitrust authorities announced the initiation of two new cases against Microsoft. One investigation relates to the ability to interact with other programmes of a number of products, including Microsoft Office. Also under suspicion of anti-monopoly bodies hit Internet Explorer - in the EU intend to investigate how the introduction of legally browser in Windows.

Here it must be noted that the European antimonopolschiki have not only Microsoft but also a number of leading IT companies. In the past few years, the Competition Commission must produce claims Intel Corporation, manufacturer of Rambus memory and telecommunications company Qualcomm. For instance, Intel in July last year, was accused of abusing a dominant market position microprocessors, and in February this year had already been searched its offices. Now Intel is threatening fines of up to 10% of annual income. Rambus same and Qualcomm, in the view of the EU, require too high royalties for the licensing of their technology. Note: All of these companies - American. In the development of the IT industry is lagging behind the EU from the United States and many European markets densely occupied by American corporations, which sometimes behave arrogantly. Illustrative example: online bookstore Amazon daily (!) Pays a fine amounting to France in Euro 1000, but refused to cancel free delivery, which virtually destroyed the small local stores. In the next 10 years, the EU plans to spend on nanotechnology and to develop advanced embedded systems 5.5 billion euros. The purpose of financing - catching up and overtaking American corporations. It is possible that the current active European antimonopolschikov - a "clearance" for its own market, and European companies.

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