MIcrosoft Loses EU Appeal, But The Charges Weren’t Necessary

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Microsoft (NASD:MSFT) lost its appeal of the antitrust case brought by the EU. The court upheld the $612 fine imposed on the company as well. The EU had charged that Microsoft used the dominance of its Windows operating systems to drive out competition in the multimedia player business and to force its server software onto the market.

But, looking at the landscape now, the EU could have avoided taking the time and money to go after Microsoft. Its media player has largely been replaced by the Adobe (ADBE) Flash player, which is easier to use that Redmond’s Windows Media product. Most video on websites like YouTube use Flash.

In the server business, many large enterprises have turned to Linux, which is less expensive to run and comes installed on many machines from companies like IBM (IBM) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ). Sun (JAVA) ships many of its servers with its own Solaris software.

In other critical parts of the PC market like security, firms like Symantec (SYMC) dominate.

And, of course, there is Google (GOOG). Not only does it have the lion’s shares of online search. It has also launched document, spreadsheet, and Powerpoint competition, all of which are a threat to Windows Media.

The EU could have saved time and money. The competition did a better job of keeping Microsoft at bay than any court could.

Douglas A. McIntyre