Thursday, December 22, 2005

Microsoft Bashing

The European Commission on Thursday threatened to hit Microsoft with a 2 million euro daily fine for refusing to open Windows to third parties.

In March 2004, the EU ordered that Microsoft give competitors access to certain Windows networking protocols, which "would allow non-Microsoft work group servers to achieve full interoperability with Windows PCs and servers."

This has to be one of the most mind-numbingly stupid decisions I have ever witnessed.  Essentially the EU wants to put Microsoft out of business and will stop at nothing until their goal is achieved.  

First they demanded that Microsoft sell a version of Windows without the Media Player bundled.  Great theory, but nobody wanted it.  Since that hasn’t put the crimp on Microsoft they want to demand that the Windows OS go OpenSource.

As long as an operating system can communicate over TCP/IP and RPC protocols it can fully participate in a Windows network.  All of the protocols for talking to Windows devices are relatively straight-forward.  I don’t know the specific language in the ruling, but it seems to me to meet the “competitor access to networking protocols” requirement.  The only thing that makes sense is that the EU wants to enable other businesses to publish their own versions of Windows, and if they don’t get their way they will fine Microsoft 2 million euros a day.

I’m not sure how Microsoft will respond to this new attack on their business.  How can a company respond to a political body – a political body that operates someplace other than it’s home country – that refuses to let it operate its business model as it sees fit?

The hard line answer is that Microsoft could stop selling Windows to the EU.  Make them start using Linux and Sun on their PCs so that they can see how good they have it.  Of course all that will do is force customers to buy their PCs straight from the US instead of the local distributors.  This would put a crimp on multinationals though as many EU countries have restriction on where local offices can purchase IT equipment from.

This turn of events has to be very frustrating for Microsoft as the panel keeps changing the requirements as Microsoft struggles to meet the previous requests.  They are in a no win situation with an unreasonable political body that only has a single goal – make Microsoft pay.

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