On the criminal side the addition is also slight

April 16, 2012 5:56 AM
On the criminal side the addition is also slight

In the history of the U.S. high-tech industry, there is certainly a "before" and an "after" - 19 September. Because the severe expected of the European Court of justice should indeed compel Microsoft to rethink its relations with the rest of the high-tech industry and its way to market its software deeply as well. And not only in Europe.

First of all, with the confirmation that Microsoft had abused its dominant position by incorporating multimedia reading software in Windows (photos, videos, etc.) Media Player, the Court interferes with the projects of the editor in the integration of new functions as, for example, a voice in its operating system recognizer. Away thus for example the perspective, at the end of integration of the whole, applications Office of Microsoft, as its word processor Word, in a unique, preinstalled at the purchase of the PC. It is poorly indeed Microsoft sell these applications independently of Windows and pay in Europe that they would be free and integrated into the operating system elsewhere in the world. A world as threat "any rival Microsoft knows that he can seize the European authorities if he feels aggrieved," explains Nicolas Economides, Professor at the Stern School of Business of the University of New York.

The other decision affirmed by the Court may have had even more serious implications for the editor. It concerns the obligation imposed on Microsoft to provide competitors in the technical information about Windows, so that the latter server software can operate harmoniously with PCs with the operating system of Microsoft (i.e. 95 of the World Park). On this point, analysts and jurists are unanimous: by sharing in a forced manner a little of its intellectual property, it will establish between the Publisher and its rivals a force new report, much less for the benefit of the first that currently.

Because, today, Microsoft is more powerful than ever in the United States. While ten years ago, Microsoft antitrust proceedings by the U.S. Department of Justice had been a hard-line Clinton presidency, it is thanks to a benevolent Bush administration that the editor has been, in recent years, apply the policy for the checkbook to get away to lesser evil. Billions of dollars will have certainly been necessary to compensate the users, through the prosecution by many States, and the most aggressive competitors (AOL - Time Warner, Sun Microsystems, RealNetworks, Novell, etc.). But, in total, these expenses have little weighed on the richness of the editor.

On the criminal side, the addition is also slight. The "consent decree" as found in 2002 had no effect on the competitive position of Microsoft. Moreover, the judge Kollar-Kotelly, to enforce the settlement decree signed between Microsoft and the Justice Department, comes to know several States wishing to extend the time that they need to submit "of serious arguments" hope to succeed.

To measure the impact of the European decision on high-tech industry us, just see the satisfaction of software publishers representing the camp of the open source software or Open Source (Linux is the banner). "The decision of the Court confirms that a monopoly company cannot use its dominant position to exclude the competition," said Matt Szulik, CEO of Red Hat Software, senior editor of software on Linux servers. Red Hat is the type of company which need to thrive, information that the European Court of justice will now require Microsoft to disclose.

Of course, U.S. high-tech firms apply since long time already the principle of "coopetition", their well understood interests. Thus, even Microsoft shares with Cisco information to make applications and the first systems more compatible with the second network equipment. And this does not prevent to compete hard in the media family.

But these alliances have so far been knotted under pressure from users. If Europe manages to be build in "super-rgulateur", a possibility underlined by many observers, who knows how far will go constraints As the contagion could spread. Next month, the Supreme Court of South Korea must give its opinion on the same issue of abuse of dominant position of Microsoft. Tomorrow, this could be the turn of other Asian countries, as the India or China, or Europe, with no reason to make gifts from champions of the country of Uncle Sam.

The threat is all the more real for American high-tech industry that the criteria used by the European authorities abuse of dominant position limiting the conditions of competition apply to other us heavy weight of the sector. Already, the European Commission survey on Intel, consent rates low PC manufacturers agreeing to use only very little of his main rival AMD microprocessors.

In other high-tech sectors, the dominant position of the Americans could also trigger investigations. Against Apple for example, which dominates the online music market by encrypting its pieces of music to promote its own music players. Or even Google coming to buy DoubleClick to strengthen its dominant position in the advertising on the Internet by trying to extend it to mobile phones.

"The case of Microsoft is not only good news for European consumers but also for those of the United States and around the world", wants to believe and Robert Lande, Director of the American Antitrust Institute. The future will tell. But one thing is already certain: the high-tech American will have to learn to live with a more severe regulation.