It's been a long time since Microsoft
Well, that may be overstating things. According to a Wall Street Journal story today, the U.S. government (yes, the same government that shook down Mr. Softy years back) is reportedly asking the EU to give Microsoft a break, or at least access to evidence it says it needs in order to defend itself against the seemingly endless stream of Euro complaints.
Microsoft is in a bit of a bind here. Yes, the utter lack of interest in the stripped-down version of Windows is proof that the EU was nuts to require a separation of Media Player from the core operating system. Competition has always been a mouse click away, and in fact, the heavy in the online music space is Apple
And yesterday, Tim's article pointed out that the EU's reported whining about soon-to-be incorporated security features in Vista is pretty nutty because the public has been clamoring for better onboard Windows security for years. "Give us security tools! But keep the outside security-tool providers in business!"
I'm scratching my head, too.
But do we have a ray of hope? Today, Microsoft's lead lawyer reportedly said he thought there was a "breakthrough" regarding the talks about fines for Microsoft's prior sins. But that characterization was refuted -- surprise, surprise -- by the lawyer for the hang-'em-high organization known as the European Committee for Interoperable Systems, which is the face of Microsoft competitors such as IBM
I've long since given up believing in organizations like this as actual promoters of competition. To me, it looks a lot more like the loser's roll call from the last round of competition. But my opinion on the European "He-Man Redmond-Haters Club" is of little consequence. The truth is plain: Microsoft faces an obvious double standard in the EU, and that's a definite risk factor for investors to consider. Given certain outspoken EU member countries' aggression toward non-European commercial combinations (like the Mittal bid for Arcelor), and their backward stance on labor laws (cough ... France ... cough), I wouldn't expect things to get much better for Microsoft on that side of the pond.
Seth Jayson loves to vacation in Europe, but he thinks the policymakers there need to head back to Economics 101. At the time of publication, he had shares of Microsoft but no positions in any other firm mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.