Open Thread: EU Fines Microsoft Another $1.3 Billion. When Will it Matter?

Yesterday, the European Union’s Antitrust Commission fined Microsoft another $1.3 billion for not complying with its 2004 anti-trust order to share its undocumented server APIs with competitors until October 2007, bringing total fines in the case to $2.5 billion.

Yesterday’s fine covers the period between June 21, 2006 and October 21, 2007 and follows a prior fine of approximately $1.2 billion levied against Microsoft arising from the EU’s 2004 order to make key interoperatability and API information available to competitors.

“Microsoft was the first company in fifty years of EU competition policy that the Commission has had to fine for failure to comply with an antitrust decision”, said European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes. “I hope that today’s Decision closes a dark chapter in Microsoft’s record of non-compliance with the Commission’s March 2004 Decision and that the principles confirmed by the Court of First Instance ruling of September 2007 will govern Microsoft’s future conduct”.

While Microsoft complied with the EU’s order in October after losing its appeal, and last week made what it called a strategic direction statement making far more of this kind of information available, the EU is not done with Microsoft: Last month the European Commission opened two new anti-trust cases focusing on Microsoft’s tying of Internet Explorer to Windows and further questions about interoperability and access to API’s over a range of Microsoft products.

So the question is, is it a good thing for Web Workers that the European Union regulates Microsoft?

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