Re: POL: Reaction to Microsoft Ruling

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Tue Apr 11 2000 - 02:40:09 MDT

On Mon, Apr 10, 2000 at 01:23:28PM -0400, Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> >
> > Microsoft _can_ side-step an EU anti-trust investigation -- all they have
> > to do is stop selling Windows anywhere in the EU, at which point they
> > aren't a monopoly any more. If they _want_ to sell Windows in that
> > environment ...
> So if MS only sells to the euro market via internet downloads.... what possible
> actions can the eu countries take?
Several, without even insisting that all European ISPs block Microsoft's
web sites.

They can issue a court order for damages. If a criminal offense is found
to have happened -- such as a conviction for bribery -- they can issue
an extradition warrant and the US government _will_ cooperate with that
(as a quid pro quo for delivering fugitive American criminals back to
their own jurisdiction).

They can ban the use of Microsoft products from all government and
government funded organisations -- right down to the file format
level. It'll hurt in the short term, but what do you think the long-term
prospects would be for Corel, Apple, Red Hat, if suddenly Microsoft was
banned from European government bureacracies? It'd knock a major plank
out from the raft of network externalities that shore up Microsoft's
retail sales base.

Moreover, some of Microsoft's products aren't downloadable over the web.
Knock out the MCSE training/certification network in Europe and qualified
support for Microsoft's remaining products would dwindle.

None of this would amount to decreeing that some other supplier of choice
would take over from Microsoft; it merely amounts to the point that it is
difficult to sell to a hostile market, and the EU governments would suddenly
become such a market, and a lot of the non-governmental sector would follow
their lead.

> > Quite possibly, knowing the French ... but remember, Microsoft is behaving
> > extra-territorially. In the event, I expect they'll just lock up the
> > directors of Microsoft's French subsidiary, and/or fine the company, and
> > maybe put out an extradition warrant for Bill.
> I'm not the worlds biggest fan of Bill Gates, but even I can tell you that if the
> French try something like this, its gonna piss off a lot of Americans.

The French government pisses off a lot of people here, too (but sometimes
their ability to insounciantly get right up a deserving nostril earns
them fans).

> > Rest of world != China. Plus, they hardly have a monopoly on it -- they
> > merely steal the most of it.
> I merely used them as an example, as I had hoped you could comprehend by the simple
> English. Any higher rates for software elsewhere in the world are because of the
> following:
> a) added cost of language customization

Then why does Windows cost 50% more in the UK? Where piracy levels are
zip and there's no import tarrif? (That's the pre-tax cost, BTW.)

Clue: Microsoft's grip on the UK market is even tighter than its grip in
the US -- the Mac platform never caught on over here.

-- Charlie

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