Everything is rosy in Redmond today. In one of Steve Ballmer's last stands before handing the reigns to someone else, a European court ruled against claims made by Cisco that Microsoft's $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype would amount to an anti-competitive advantage. With the decision, Microsoft is free to continue marketing Skype's video calls to consumers and businesses without making concessions to Cisco or other competitors.
Open source group takes issue with Microsoft's controversial UEFI Secure Boot mechanism.
A Spanish open software group has filed a complaint against Microsoft with the European Union claiming that it's unnecessarily difficult to install Linux on Windows 8 hardware. Hispalinux, which is made up of 8,000 Linux users and developers living in Spain, issued a 14-page complaint regarding Microsoft's UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) Secure Boot technology, which the group calls an "obstruction mechanism."
A "technical error" related to a Windows Service Pack ends up costing Microsoft hundreds of millions of dollars in fines.
It was rumored the European Union wanted to close its investigation into Microsoft's "browser ballot" screw-up and levy a fine before Easter break, a mission it's now achieved with weeks to spare. E.U. regulators decided to punish Microsoft to the tune of €561 million, or a little more than $731 million in U.S. currency, for failing to comply with an agreement to provide users with a browser choice screen (the so-called browser ballot) upon firing up Windows for the first time.
Time and again, European Union regulators have proven they're not the least bit bashful about slapping mega corporations like Microsoft and Intel with gargantuan fines for violating antitrust laws. In fact, Microsoft has already been assessed around $1.28 billion in the last decade for various dealings in the EU, and if EU officials are feeling particularly ornery, they could penalize Microsoft up to $7.4 billion, or up to 10 percent of its revenues, for what amounts to an unfortunate "technical error."
Microsoft is once again in hot water with European Union (EU) antitrust officials, this time for failing to fully comply with a 2009 settlement in which the Redmond software company agreed to give customers a choice of which Web browser to use when installing Windows. For the most part, Microsoft had been doing that, except in some instances where PCs shipped to European customers with Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 pre-installed.
If you can sell an old CD when you're done with it, why can't you sell off an mp3 you no longer want, too? That very question is currently winding its way through the U.S. court system, but the European Union dished out a surprise ruling this week that says users have the right to resell their digitally downloaded software as they see fit, no matter what the original EULA or license says.
Even for a company as financially stable as Intel, paying a $1.3 billion fine doesn't come easy, or without hesitation. It's even tougher to fork over the funds when it's believed the fine is based on "profoundly inadequate" evidence, as the Santa Clara chip maker referred to the European Commission's investigation, which led to the record breaking penalty. Intel is hoping to have the three-year-old fine removed, or at least reduced, via appeal.
In the grand scheme of things, there aren't many companies that can afford to cut checks for billion-dollar fines. Microsoft is one of them, but that doesn't mean it will go about it willingly. Even for Microsoft, $1.3 billion, which is roughly the amount the European Union (EU) penalized the software giant for in 2008 when it imposed a fine of 899 million euros for antitrust shenanigans, is a lot of money. Following an appeal, Microsoft won't have to pay quite as much, but it does still owe the bulk of the original fine.
The European Commission today announced it has opened a formal investigation into Samsung's use of patents and whether the handset maker is running afoul of EU antitrust rules. Samsung's business practices are being examined "as a matter of priority," the Commission said, though it did not say when it expects to complete its investigation.
With all the headlines about SOPA and PIPA, it's easy to forget that President Obama already signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement way back in October. ACTA bypassed the World Trade Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the United to create a new, multinational governing body that can crack down on intellectual property concerns. Like SOPA and PIPA, ACTA is full of loose language and privacy concerns, and it's caused a lot of hand-wringing in Europe. Yesterday, the EU and 22 of its members signed ACTA, prompting several backlashes; the EU's ACTA investigator quit in outrage, and Polish politicians donned Guy Fawkes masks.