The stakes are high: three-quarters of a billion dollars. That’s the reported investment figure for Microsoft’s Media Player.
The playing field is foreign: European Commission (EC).
The song is an old one: forcing a bundled product when purchasing an operating system. That’s a 90s tune from Netscape, now being covered by Real Networks.
The verdict is forthcoming this month.
Commission readies sanctions
Reportedly the EC is set to impose sanctions or fines against Microsoft by the end of the month, in order to give consumers more multimedia software choices.
The EU charges that Microsoft illegally integrated Media Player into the OS and did not provide sufficient info for rival servers to connect to Windows machines.
In addition, the EU is up in arms about contracts. Microsoft instituted some across-the-board changes in February, but the EU contents those changes had been promised four years ago.
Too little too late?
The tune does have a familiar feel — that the government action is too late to correct market failure.
For example, Microsoft recently inked a deal with Disney (could this be the real reason for the split between Jobs and Eisner?) and most online music stores sell music in the proprietary Microsoft format. Notable exceptions are Apple’s iTunes (AAC – an industry standard) and RealNetworks (proprietary).
In other news, Microsoft offices in Japan have been raided by the government. The anti-trust microscpe could be focused across the Pacific, as well.