Microsoft suffered a stinging defeat Monday when it lost a long-running European antitrust battle and was slapped with a record 497m euro ($690m) fine.
The European Court of First Instance, Europe’s second highest court, upheld an earlier 2004 European Commission ruling against the US software giant for abusing its market position to shut out competitors.
Problems centered round its media player and server software. By bundling Windows Media Player with the operating system, Microsoft was viewed as shutting out competitors. The 2004 ruling called for Microsoft to offer Windows without media player software.
Microsoft was also told to provide technical documentation to allow competitors to make their software interoperable with Microsoft Windows server products.
The Court has confirmed that Microsoft cannot regulate the market by imposing its products and services on people, said Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Competition, in a statement. She said the move will mean computer users are entitled to better choice, more innovative products, and more competitive prices.
Matthew Szulik, chairman and CEO of Red Hat, was among the many supporters who considered the ruling great news for innovation and customer choice.
The Court has confirmed that competition law prevents a monopolist from simply using its control of the market to lock in customers and stifle new competitors, said Szulik.
Microsoft said it intends to study the ruling to decide whether to appeal, but said it would take steps to comply with the decision.
David Mitchell, senior vice president of IT research at Ovum, said that the matter isn’t over and that Microsoft is likely to appeal.
Inevitably the ruling will not bring an end to the case, and will not deliver the closure that everyone outside of the self-perpetuating legal bean-feast wishes to see, he said.
In addition to the fine, Micorosoft will have to pay most of the legal costs. It has two months to appeal the decision based on a point of law.