Monti's verdict on Microsoft - blow by blow

The EU competition commissioner Mario Monti's ruling contains three crucial demands

The guilty verdict delivered to Microsoft by the European Commission on Wednesday contained three specific demands.

Issuing the verdict, the EU competition commissioner, Mario Monti, said Microsoft broke EU competition law by "leveraging its near monopoly in the market for PC operating systems onto the markets for work group server operating systems and for media players". His demands included:

  • Microsoft has 120 days to disclose complete and accurate interface documentation which would allow non-Microsoft work group servers to achieve full interoperability with Windows PCs and servers.
  • Monti said this will enable rival vendors to develop products that can compete on a level playing field in the work group server operating system market, said the. The disclosed information, said Monti, will have to be updated each time Microsoft brings to the market new versions of its relevant products.

    "To the extent that any of this interface information might be protected by intellectual property in the European Economic Area(6), Microsoft would be entitled to reasonable remuneration. The disclosure order concerns the interface documentation only, and not the Windows source code, as this is not necessary to achieve the development of interoperable products."

  • Microsoft has 90 days to offer a version of Windows without Windows Media Player to PC manufacturers and to end users.
  • The untying remedy does not mean that consumers will obtain PCs and operating systems without media players. Most consumers purchase a PC from a PC manufacturer which has already put together on their behalf a bundle of an operating system and a media player, said Monti. "As a result of the Commission's remedy, the configuration of such bundles will reflect what consumers want, and not what Microsoft imposes."

    Microsoft retains the right to offer a version of its Windows client PC operating system product with WMP. However, Microsoft must refrain from using any commercial, technological or contractual terms that would have the effect of rendering the unbundled version of Windows less attractive or performing. In particular, it must not give PC manufacturers a discount conditional on their buying Windows together with WMP.

  • Microsoft is also fined €497.2m for abusing its market power in the EU.
  • Monti said he believes the remedies will "bring the antitrust violations to an end, that they are proportionate, and that they establish clear principles for the future conduct of the company."

    Microsoft said it would appeal the decision.