December 23, 2004


In Europe, an antitrust setback for Microsoft (Paul Meller, December 23, 2004, The New York Times)

Microsoft, the world's biggest software maker, was dealt a serious legal and logistical setback on Wednesday when a senior European judge ordered the company to immediately comply with a European Commission antitrust ruling that instructed the company to change the way it sells its Windows operating system in Europe.

The order could prove to be a turning point for the software industry, because it forces Microsoft to change its successful strategy of bundling new features into its near-ubiquitous operating system, analysts said.

Judge Bo Vesterdorf, president of the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg, said that Microsoft's application for a suspension of the ruling until the end of the appeals process "is dismissed in its entirety," adding that the company failed to prove that the ruling would cause it irreparable harm, one of three requirements needed in order to suspend a commission ruling. [...]

After a five-year investigation, the commission concluded in March that the company was abusing the dominant position of Windows in order to dominate two related software markets: the market for software that plays music and video, and the market for programs that run servers that link personal computers together.

It's like Germany vs. the USSR--there's no one to root for, just some outcomes that are better than others.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 23, 2004 9:19 AM

The ruling is that Microsoft has to offer a sub-par operating system along with its full-feature operating system. They're the same price, so no one will buy the sub-par one. Really, nothing has changed.

Posted by: Timothy at December 23, 2004 12:20 PM


The decision also requires them to license their communication protocols on "reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms", which is more significant, and will make it harder for them to dominate server software by tightly tieing it to the client. Unfortunately, "reasonable" probably means "per-unit fee", which will rule out any open-source implementation and thus makes it irrelevant to many of the most significant threats to their dominance.

Posted by: Mike Earl at December 23, 2004 12:30 PM

The theory behind European antitrust law is the protection of other companies no matter how inefficient, dillapidated and outmoded they might actually be. In America, we worry about consumer protection.

Posted by: Bart at December 23, 2004 3:20 PM

Bart, the antitrust suit in the US stood on two leg.

1) Protect a few software firms (including Netscrape) run by Democrats.

2) (Probably the most important) MS gave no money to the DNC, hired no DC lobbyists and had no DC office.

The suit didn't even pretend that any customer was being damaged.

Posted by: Uncle Bill at December 23, 2004 7:22 PM

Which was why the Microsoft litigation in America was completely bogus and the whole thing was a political set-up. Any time when the Democratic Party, Bob Dole and Robert Bork are on the same side, you know the fix is in.

Posted by: Bart at December 23, 2004 8:02 PM

Funny how IE development came to a standstill once Netscape was crushed by those illegal tactics. I suppose that served the consumer?

Posted by: Mike Earl at December 23, 2004 9:34 PM


Or that the perpetrator is especially vile.

Posted by: oj at December 23, 2004 9:40 PM

If the perpetrator were especially vile, Bob Dole, the great Dracula of American politics, would be on his side.

Posted by: Bart at December 23, 2004 10:44 PM

Like in WWII?

Posted by: oj at December 23, 2004 10:51 PM

Mr. Earl;

Yes, it did. It created two browsers, Netscape and IE, both superior to what had gone before. At no point did IE get worse although one could argue that Netscape browsers went downhill after 4.7 (many of our corporate clients simply would not install Netscape versions 5.X and 6.X because they were so bad).

Your complaint is not that consumer interests weren't served, but that those interests didn't continue to get served infinitum. That's utopian thinking, which OJ quite frowns upon.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at December 24, 2004 12:42 AM

He got drafted in WWII, got wounded no worse than tens of thousands of Americans, like Dan Inouye, and we've been paying the price for it ever since. The guy never stops whining about them and feels he should get a free pass for whatever self-dealing he does because of it.

Posted by: Bart at December 24, 2004 8:01 AM

Actually, Dole most reminds me of the Sergent de Ville in Les Miserables, a totally evil character who managed to display selfless heroism once in his life, at the Battle of Waterloo, and parlayed that into being respected despite his otherwise despicable behavior.

Posted by: Bart at December 24, 2004 8:05 AM


Open markets continue to serve consumers--monopolies don't. MS is premised on ending the former and imposing the latter, because they can't compete in the former.

Posted by: oj at December 24, 2004 8:16 AM


Drafted, but on the side of evil?

Posted by: oj at December 24, 2004 8:17 AM

No, OJ. Like the Sergent, Dole was drafted on the side of good, despite his personal inclinations, and while on the side of good, apparently displayed some selfless heroism. After the war, like the Sergent, he reverted to his natural criminal blood-sucking self for the rest of his life, using his war injuries to give him cover for his boodling and swindling.

Posted by: Bart at December 25, 2004 12:44 AM

He was drafted by his party to run for office too. Is Republicanism evil as well?

Posted by: oj at December 25, 2004 8:27 AM


There were no Democrats in his part of Kansas and still today they are rare. It is a one-party area. The local elite chose him to represent them precisely because he is the sort of venal stooge they could easily control. The GOP in Russell, Kansas behaves no differently from the Democrats in Jersey City. One party states always do.

Bob Dole is a man who claims his proudest achievement is the Food Stamp Act, who joked that all supplysiders should drive off a cliff in a bus, who was featured on a National Review cover with Bob Michel as the poster boy for GOP failure, and who was called by Newt Gingrich 'the tax collector for the welfare state.'

Why you feel a need to carry his water, I have no idea.

Posted by: Bart at December 25, 2004 11:07 AM

Yes, any Republican could win, but they asked him.

Posted by: oj at December 25, 2004 11:26 AM

They picked him because he was easiest to control. Dole has been little more than a corporate lapdog his entire career. As with National Review, my sense is that he is exactly what has been wrong with the GOP for decades.

Again, why do you feel a need to defend him when he is clearly hostile to virtually everything modern conservatism is about?

Posted by: Bart at December 25, 2004 2:49 PM

Because he isn't. He's a garden variety conservative--smarter and funnier than most.

Posted by: oj at December 25, 2004 2:56 PM

You're completely wrong. He's little more than a Richard Nixon who can't play the piano.

Posted by: Bart at December 26, 2004 6:26 AM

I feel utterly safe in assuming that you know as little about him as about most of those you hate.

Posted by: oj at December 26, 2004 9:10 AM


Who better represents modern conservatism, Newt Gingrich or Bob Dole? National Review or Bob Dole? Laffer and Gilder or Bob Dole?

Posted by: Bart at December 27, 2004 6:20 AM

The one who received his party's nomination for president.

Posted by: oj at December 27, 2004 7:43 AM