27 February 2008

EU fines Microsoft record $1.35 billion

Excerpted from Reuters via Yahoo News:

By David Lawsky 2 hours, 57 minutes ago

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Microsoft (MSFT.O) was fined a record 899 million euros ($1.35 billion) by the European Commission on Wednesday for using high prices to discourage software competition in the latest sanction in their long-running battle.

The executive arm of the European Union said the U.S. software group defied a 2004 order from Brussels to provide the information on reasonable terms.

Microsoft has now been fined a total of 1.68 billion euros by the EU for abusing its 95 percent dominance of PC operating systems through Windows.

Its latest fine far exceeded the original and was the biggest ever imposed on a company.

"Microsoft was the first company in 50 years of EU competition policy that the Commission has had to fine for failure to comply with an antitrust decision," Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement.

For years after the decision Microsoft said it was making every effort to comply with the Commission's orders.

"Talk is cheap, flouting the rules is expensive," Kroes said. "We don't want talk and promises. We want compliance."

The article goes on but the Kroes quote is the one I love. It's hard for me to feel even a smidgen of sorrow for Microsoft here. Now, their stockholders, that's a different story. But knowing the vagaries of the market, this may very well help. [I do a quick check...] Yes, the stock is up.

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