Archive for February, 2008

EU takes Microsoft into a back alley for a friendly chat, again…

Topic: Technology| 1 Comment »

Back Alley Beatings!Hello. Today is is a rant day. This morning, my wife informed me that the EU has fined Microsoft a record $1.3 billion dollars (probably an even billion euros), for more anti-competitive, antitrust violations. Now, I know that there are usually three sides to every story, one from the one giving the beating, one from the one taking the beating, and one from the one watching the beating, but I’m going to take Microsoft’s side on this one. Granted, I’m certainly not a huge Microsoft fan (I live in a battered users’ shelter after Vista pushed me down the stairs one too many times), but come on. Yes, Microsoft certainly has been anti-competitive. However, once the DOJ started going after them, it seems like everyone has jumped on the bandwagon. As a loyal TWiT listener, I’ve been convinced that the EU hates Microsoft and wants it to “play fair” (read: die and burn) for a while now, pummeling it into releasing stupid crap like Windows XP N (XP sans Windows Media Player), etc. Now, though, I’m just convinced that the EU sees Microsoft as an alternate income stream, a far-off evil US company that it can take into a back alley and “talk to” whenever it needs a few greenbacks (in March 2004, the EU fined Microsoft $613 million dollars for not sharing communications information). My real issue with this is that basically the EU fined Microsoft because it disagrees with the amount Microsoft is charging companies who license its patents. What? You mean if I invent something, and I hold the patent, and I want to make money off my work, you, the mighty EU, are going to tell me what I can and can’t charge for them? Of course not. I’m some schmoe who isn’t worth an EU business lunch. But as soon as I make enough money ($51.12 billion in 2007), you want your cut, (after your first cut, taxes) or I’ll have a little “accident”. Why should you be able to tell me what I can and can’t charge for licensing my patents?

Maybe I believe too much in a free-market system. It just seems weird that Microsoft has become the EU’s punching bag lately. After all, OS X comes bundled with (count them) a web browser (Safari), a media player (iTunes), a video conferencing and chat application (iChat), a web server (Apache), iLife, which includes iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, GarageBand and iWeb, (a picture organizing and editing app, a movie editor, a DVD authoring program, a sound editing program, and a web authoring program), and I see no “bundling” lawsuits from the mighty EU or DOJ against Apple. I can’t even begin to imagine the Euro signs in the eyes of the EU commissioner, or minister, or high chancellor, or whatever, if Microsoft had started bundling all of those magical products in Windows XP back in 2003. Either it’s ok, or it isn’t. If you are going to go after Microsoft, go after Apple too. I’m sure we can find plenty of companies whose product was run into the ground after Apple “bundled” their own stuff. Anyway, rant over. I feel better. (because I don’t have to give 1 out of every 50 dollars my business earns this year to the EU, I just get to pay normal American taxes.)

Hello world!

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