NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Microsoft Under Siege From Europe’s Competition Czar

August 7, 2003

Yesterday, Mario Monti, Europe's competition czar, announced that he was prepared to levy fines and force further changes to Microsoft's computer operating system.

In essence, Monti wants to force Microsoft to turn over its own intellectual property (that is, the property of a U.S. company) to it global competitors. Yesterday's press conference was called mainly to let the world know Microsoft was being given one last chance to repent and surrender, says the Wall Street Journal.

The European Union's regulations increasingly seek to tie down not just European companies but any part of the world that trades with the EU:

  • Microsoft has already modified Windows to let computer makers configure their machines to give more prominence to media players made by Microsoft's competitors, such as Real Networks' Real Player.
  • Computer makers are even free to hide the media player that Microsoft includes (free) in every copy of Windows.
  • In other words, the commission's evidence consists not of anything Microsoft itself has done, but the fact that potential users like what it has done.
  • All this makes the commission's proposed remedies -- either sell a crippled version of Windows that can't play content, or else make sure Windows machines all have both Microsoft's media player and a competitor's -- particularly perverse.

Somehow the U.S. government has to draw a line in the sand here. Intellectual property and services are the growth engine of the modern economy, of which Microsoft is a crown jewel, explains the Journal.

Source: Editorial, "Monti's Wrecking Crew," Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2003.

For text (WSJ subscription required),,SB106021398070464800,00.html


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