Democracy & Technology Blog Microsoft v. EU, Part 1

Microsoft’s legal challenge to the European Commission’s antitrust ruling got underway this week in the European Court of First Instance. At issue on the first day of the hearing was the requirement that Microsoft separate its media player from its operating system. The commission’s ruling and subsequent enforcement gets more absurd every day, and I can’t imagine it would have been taken seriously by any competent court of law in the U.S.
Jean-Francois Bellis, an attorney for Microsoft, told the court that 1,787 versions of Windows without Media Player (Edition N) have been ordered, compared with 35 million versions of Windows with Media Player, the Financial Times reports. The lawyer for the European Commission conceded that “I am afraid we cannot say our remedy has had any real impact, as far as we can see,” according to the the Times of London. Then he hinted that the commission may regulate how Microsoft prices the two products, according to the International Herald Tribune, to entice consumers who otherwise lack any compelling reason to buy the stripped-down version. This case is thus a classic example of regulatory quicksand, or the inexorable tendency of regulation to degenerate into micromanagement.
This all may seem like good news to Microsoft’s competitors, but its certainly a defeat for consumers and investors. When bureaucrats, here or there, attempt to suspend the laws of supply and demand, we all suffer.
Does the Bush Administration realize this?

Hance Haney

Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project
Hance Haney served as Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project at the Discovery Institute, in Washington, D.C. Haney spent ten years as an aide to former Senator Bob Packwood (OR), and advised him in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee during the deliberations leading to the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He subsequently held various positions with the United States Telecom Association and Qwest Communications. He earned a B.A. in history from Willamette University and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.