According to reports, Microsoft has agreed to the European Commission's 2004 anti-monopoly penalty. As a result, the drawn-out anti-trust war ultimately concluded with Microsoft's surrender.
As a matter of fact, the "foreign war" between Microsoft and the European Commission originated in a "civil war" between two American companies: Microsoft and Sun Microsystems. In fact, it is a dispute of both company and national interests, which involves a disagreement in philosophy and technology.
Serving as a resident reporter in the United States in 1996, I had an opportunity to visit both companies during an official "intellectual property re-education" gathering. I was deeply impressed by their different styles. Sun Microsystems has set up its office buildings in a parallel garden-style pattern with several teahouses constructed in between. Communication among software development staff is not restricted. Sun Microsystems' philosophy is: basic knowledge should be open to the public. Microsoft separates its buildings into different districts. The staff has keycard access only to certain buildings. The entire company is organized in a hierarchical and a strictly confidential manner. Microsoft's philosophy is: intellectual property is sacrosanct.
As it originates from a disagreement about philosophy and technology, the dispute is bound to involve company interests. An open, public development platform is more conducive to the development of the industry and society as a whole. Sun Microsystem's concept is, therefore, more "moral."
From an international perspective, Microsoft's monopolistic position "hurt" many countries. As a result, core software technology is being manipulated; national software industry development is being restricted; "back door" issues are causing national security concerns; and imported software is more expensive. It was under these circumstances that Microsoft lost in its lawsuit in Europe.
Currently, there are "two opposing lines" in the world's software industry: one is Microsoft, and the other is Linux. The former has technical advantages; while the latter has a "moral" advantage. The former emphasizes "market profits" from knowledge; the latter values "social welfare." Knowledge only makes sense when it is accessible. On the other hand, there should be a system of return and protection of the driving forces for knowledge creation. There should be a balance between private and public ownership. The protection of intellectual property rights should be relative. People should strive for a higher goal: make knowledge open to the public. In recent years, under various social pressures, Microsoft has made some compromises in publishing codes. Obviously, it can make more. Essentially, a monopolistic mentality will impede technological progress.
Microsoft's list of monopolies (1990 -2007)
Microsoft was founded in 1975. Since the 1990s, Microsoft has consistently encountered antitrust litigation in a number of countries and regions across the world.
In 1990, the United States Federal Trade Commission investigated the potential conflicts that Microsoft and IBM may have within the PC software market. The investigation was later taken over by the United States Department of Justice.
In October 1997, the Justice Department of the United States accused Microsoft of a monopoly in operating systems by illegally bundling browser software with Windows operating system software sales.
In October 1998, the Microsoft monopoly case was put on trial.
In June 2000, the United States District Court declared the division of Microsoft.
In June 2001, the Court of Appeals overturned the District Court's decision in the browser case. Microsoft escaped the forced division; but was found guilty of violating the anti-monopoly law.
In November 2001, Microsoft and the US Justice Department reached a compromise. In 2002, the Federal Court agreed to the settlement. Microsoft faced at least five years of penalties.
In December 1998, the US's Sun Microsystems Inc. sued Microsoft through the European Commission and launched an antitrust investigation of Microsoft.
In March 2004, the European Commission announced that Microsoft was abusing its position in the PC operating system market and ordered it to adjust accordingly. The EC also issued 497 million euros in fines to Microsoft.
In June 2005, Microsoft officially launched a Windows operating system without its own media player.
In July 2006, the European Commission imposed another 280 million euros in fines against Microsoft.
In March 2007, the European Commission threatened Microsoft with another 3 million euros in fines daily.
In September 2007, the European Court of First Instances made a decision against Microsoft's appeal to overturn the European Commission's antitrust penalty decision.
In October 2007, Microsoft accepted the antitrust penalty decision. The European Commission's antitrust trial against Microsoft had ended.
In April 2001, South Korean Daum Communications Inc. sued Microsoft and its subsidiary in South Korea for unfair practices in the instant messaging software business. In November 2005, the two companies agreed on a settlement in which Microsoft will pay $10 million in cash to Daum.
In November 2004, Microsoft's competitor RealNetworks accused Microsoft of violating fair competition practices by bundling MSN instant messenger with its Windows operating system in South Korea. The South Korean Fair Trade Commission then expanded its scope of inquiry.
In 2005, KFTC fined Microsoft $35.43 million and ordered it to remove MSN instant messenger from its operating system. Microsoft immediately appealed.
In May 2006, KFTC rejected the appeal. Microsoft then appealed to the High Court of South Korea.
In October 2007, Microsoft withdrew the appeal, and finally accepted the $35.43 million fine. It also removed the MSN instant messenger software from the Windows operating system. The Microsoft antitrust case in South Korea came to an end.
In July 2004, Microsoft was sued by the Japanese Fair Trade Commission. The latter alleged that part of the license agreement signed between Microsoft and Japanese PC vendors violated the Japanese anti-monopoly law. Microsoft was suspected of forcing PC vendors to accept some mandatory provisions which would prevent them from suing Microsoft. Microsoft claimed this to be a null point. It is said that it could take several years to reach a solution to this controversy.