Bo VesterdorfMicrosoft Corp v Commission
is a case brought by the European Commission
of the European Union
(EU) against Microsoft
for abuse of its dominant position in the market (according to competition law
). It started as a complaint from Sun Microsystems
over Microsoft's licensing practices in 1993, and eventually resulted in the EU ordering Microsoft to divulge certain information about its server products and release a version of Microsoft Windows
without Windows Media Player
. Also, the European Commission especially focused on the interoperability issue.
In 1993, Novell
claimed that Microsoft was blocking its competitors out of the market through anti-competitive practices. The complaint centered on the license practices at the time which required royalties from each computer sold by a supplier of Microsoft's operating system, whether or not the unit actually contained the Windows operating system. Microsoft reached a settlement in 1994, ending some of its license practices.
In 1998, Sun Microsystems
raised a complaint about the lack of disclosure of some of the interfaces to Windows NT. The case widened when the EU examined how streaming media
technologies were integrated with Windows.
Citing ongoing abuse by Microsoft, the EU reached a preliminary decision in the case in 2003 and ordered the company to offer both a version of Windows without Windows Media Player and the information necessary for competing networking software to interact fully with Windows desktops and servers.
In March 2004, the EU ordered Microsoft to pay €
497 million ($
794 million or £
381 million), the largest fine ever handed out by the EU at the time, in addition to the previous penalties, which included 120 days to divulge the server information and 90 days to produce a version of Windows without Windows Media Player.
The next month Microsoft released a paper containing scathing commentary on the ruling including: "The commission is seeking to make new law that will have an adverse impact on intellectual property rights and the ability of dominant firms to innovate."
Microsoft paid the fine in full in July 2004.
In 2004, Neelie Kroes
was appointed the European Commissioner for Competition; one of her first tasks was to oversee the fining brought onto Microsoft. Kroes has stated she believes open standards
and open source
are preferable to anything proprietary
||The Commission must do its part.....It must not rely on one vendor, it must not accept closed standards, and it must refuse to become locked into a particular technology – jeopardizing maintenance of full control over the information in its possession