Microsoft News: Monopoly Here, Antitrust There

Wednesday, February 25 2004 @ 11:50 PM EST

Contributed by: PJ

There is news from the New York Times on Microsoft and the EU investigation:

"Antitrust regulators from the 15 member nations of the European Union will gather here on March 15 to discuss a European Commission antitrust ruling against Microsoft, a diplomat close to one national regulator said on Wednesday.

"The commission has drafted a preliminary ruling that finds Microsoft guilty of abusing the dominant position of its Windows operating system - a finding that is expected to be supported by the national regulators, the diplomat said.

"A second meeting will be convened within a week to discuss corrective measures to impose on Microsoft. The second gathering of the so-called advisory committee will also discuss how much to fine the company."

There are two areas of guilt, according to the preliminary ruling, not sharing code to enable interoperability and tying Media Player software into Windows, which put rivals at an unfair competitive disadvantage:

"Microsoft's own server software works better with Windows on PC's than rivals' server systems do, the commission found. Mario Monti, Europe's chief antitrust regulator, wants Microsoft to propose what computer code in Windows should be disclosed to ensure that rival programs and servers are compatible."

They propose that Microsoft sell two versions of Windows, one with and one without Windows Media Player. This isn't a final ruling, of course, and the article says Microsoft still hopes to settle.

Meanwhile, AP is reporting a raid on Microsoft's Japanese offices:

"Officials from Japan's fair trade watchdog raided the Japanese unit of U.S. software giant Microsoft Corp. Thursday on suspicion of anti-monopoly law violations, the authorities said.

"A commission official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said Microsoft Japan is suspected of attaching improper restrictive conditions when signing software deals with Japanese personal computer manufacturers, such as requiring that Japanese companies allow infringement of their patents."

Proprietary software. Here is another article, this time on the positioning going on with respects to patents and search engines, that you might find interesting, as the proprietary generals fight and angle to decide which search engine we get to use. Their weapons of warfare are patents, not superior technology, concept, or features. Because there have been rumors about Microsoft and Google and SCO and Google, it caught my eye. All sides are busy building up their weapons arsenal:

"To add strength to their claims, Google, Microsoft and others are taking the tack of writing copious academic papers that cite the method in question and get it on record, according to industry watchers. Academic papers can be used to prove 'prior art,' or that the idea or invention was floated before a patent comes along to claim the same thing.

"Microsoft, for example, has hired experts in the field of natural-language information retrieval, and the team is writing academic papers and filing patents related to search."

And somehow this is all good for the economy.