Something Rotten in the State of Denmark
It may be located at the perimeter of the European Union, but nevertheless the fairy-tale Kingdom of Denmark has become Bill Gates’ beachhead and stronghold in his ongoing trouble with the EU Commission. Last year The Italian commissioner responsible for competition, Signore Mario Monti, slapped Microsoft for it’s monopolistic conduct and fined the software behemoth a stunning 497m euros ($613m; Â£331m) for abusing its dominant market position and also insisted Microsoft must reveal secrets of its Windows software [to competing developers]. Furthermore, Microsoft was ordered to release a version of Windows without it’s Media Player. Harsh conditions, don’t you think ? - Well, read on :
Microsoft appealed, but the European Court of First Instance, presided by the Danish judge, Mr. Bo Vesterdorf, rejected the appeal. However, a final sentence isn’t expected until 2010, at best.
Meanwhile Microsoft has deposited the money in it’s own bank account and released a “reduced” Windows that nobody, of course, wants to license [due primarily to the fact that it costs the same as the normal version]. But it hasn’t revealed any useful code to make Windows more cooperative with other types of competing software [and what it has released is under license terms that are unacceptable to it’s biggest competitor]. And it probably never will.
So now, Microsoft has plenty of time to further strengthen its monopoly in Europe, and it doesn’t waste it. A few examples :
The EU Commission wants to enforce the patentability of software, US-style. This severely reduces European companies, which typically are small or medium-sized, in their ability to compete with large, multinational corporations, like Microsoft. Naturally, a lot of those companies as well as nation-states like Poland, Germany, Portugal, the Netherlands and - lastly - Denmark objected and demanded a complete re-write of the Software Directive to be sent back to the European Parliament for re-consideration.
Denmark objected ? - Well, not really. Although the Danish Parliament obliged it’s Secretary of Trade, Mr. Bendt Bendtsen, to reject the Directive in the Council of Ministers, he only did so reluctantly, to put it mildly. (A transcript of his pathetic performance is here, and you can hear Mr. Bendtsen humiliate himself and his country here).
Normally, a minister who ignores his parliament would be fired immediately. Not so this time. The Directive on Software Patents stands and so does Mr. Bendtsen. The noble art of corruption is by no means strange to the EU, but so far Denmark has been - well, relatively - free of it. Let’s delve a little deeper to see if there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark :