Microsoft seems to have reached ‘an understanding’ with the European Union about the antitrust issues which were begun over 10 years ago.
The M – word (monopoly, if you must know) was politely sidestepped, which is very good for the Redmond firm, as that was the main thrust of many of the allegations – that Microsoft abused its super-dominant position in the market, and effectively wiped out the competition. Basically, any thinking person knows this, but proving the exact details was probably more difficult than the EU wanted to begin undertaking in court.
As slashdot puts it –
“Microsoft appears to have reached an agreement with the European Commission that concludes an antitrust battle that has lasted a decade, Europe’s top competition regulator said today. A proposal the company offered in July to address charges of monopoly abuse were dismissed as insufficient by the Commission, as well as by rivals in the software industry. But the latest iteration appears to have mollified the EC’s regulator. ‘We believe this is an answer,’ said competition commissioner Neelie Kroes in a press conference. ‘I think this is a trustful deal we are making. There can’t be a misunderstanding because it is the final result of a long discussion between Steve Ballmer and me.’ The new settlement offer addresses charges that Microsoft distorted competition in its favor in the market for web browsers, by giving its Internet Explorer browser an unfair advantage over rivals.”
The Register points out this interesting quote from the materials Microsoft released on the subject: “Microsoft shall ensure that third-party software products can interoperate with Microsoft’s Relevant Software Products using the same Interoperability Information on an equal footing as other Microsoft Software Products.”
Well, thank goodness they were mollified! This is one of those cases that, no matter what your likes and dislikes are, should have been a slam dunk for the EU. Obviously something happened that has not yet been reported.
While there is a distinct difference between the everyman knowledge of something, and the courtroom proof of that something, the overwhelming evidence was there to prove the case against Microsoft. I look for new revelations of EU countries adopting Microsoft products (the newest ones) at prices that will remain undisclosed. I also can’t help but wonder what was done to mollify the individual complainants, such as Opera, Netscape, and the rest. I doubt they are accepting free software as a form of payment.