Thursday, 28 February 2008

Record fines for Microsoft

Yet again, Microsoft was fined, but this time a record €899 million (£683 million) by the European Commission yesterday. This came as Microsoft received its third financial penalty for failing to comply with a landmark antitrust ruling issued four years ago.

As the battle between the American software giant and European regulators enters its tenth year, Microsoft has now been fined almost €1.7 billion (£1.28 billion) for abusing its dominance of PC operating systems through its Windows software. Microsoft had unfairly tied its web browser, Internet Explorer, to its Windows operating system, and was making it difficult for competitors to work with Windows by not disclosing sufficient interoperability information.

Under the ruling of March 2004, Microsoft was instructed to make complete and accurate interoperability information available on reasonable terms to competitors so that they could develop their own operating systems for servers.

The fine is based on a 15-month period of non-compliance and is considerably larger than the original €497 million (£376 million) penalty the company initially received.

Microsoft said that it would review the decision. If it decides not to appeal, a line will have been drawn under the original Commission ruling. However, Microsoft will have to update the interoperability data it makes available continuously and licensees may lodge complaints if they believe that they are being unfairly treated.

Microsoft Fines:
March 2004 Abusing its dominant position: €497 million
July 2006 Failure to comply with March decision: €280.5 million
Feb 2008 Charging rivals unreasonable fees: €899 million (source: Timesonline)

Royal Bank of Scotland unveiled profits of £10.3 billion. Underlying profits at the UK's second biggest bank were 9% higher than the previous year. This is inline with City forecasts.

Losses at Royal Bank of Scotland due to the credit crunch totalled £1.6 billion. UK business banking also lifted operating profits 11% to almost £2 billion, offsetting the decline in earnings from investment banking.

Chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin said prospects for 2008 were "difficult as ever to predict but there was good momentum behind the enlarged bank following the acquisition of ABN Amro.”

The bank added today that its capital remained within target ranges and also cheered investors with a 10% hike in the annual dividend. (source: The Independent)

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