Like a rolling stone

The Rolling Stones song, “gimme shelter” is an apt soundtrack to EU-Microsoft Antitrust saga. Recently in the appeals court confirmed the finding of the European Anti Trust Commission that Microsoft had indeed abused the dominance of its operating system, Microsoft Windows. It was held that Microsoft illegally bundled its Media Player program with Windows and refused to provide rivals software companies with the information they needed to create windows compatible software. The court agreed with the Commission’s argument that Microsoft limited competition had affirmed the record € 497 (£343; $690) million fine that Brussels levied on the company.

Now the decision cuts both ways. The record amount of fine imposed at first seems to act as a deterrent to anti competitive behavior and promote innovation. However, it cannot be ruled out that the decision may pave way for more anticompetitive complaints being filed against dominant players. The alleged offenders may even be Google or Apple, in the search engine and the mp3 player market respectively. It is clear that this will in effect hurt innovation.

A WSJ editorial takes a similar view of the situation. It quotes that the U.S. Justice Department as the decision will “harm consumers by chilling innovation and discouraging competition.” (Microsoft Spin???) In conclusion the article states that only one clear winner emerges from the decision, lawyers! Time for a track change, the Rolling Stones again… “Sympathy for the devil”.

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