Okay, technically we know that this is the sort of thing that we should save for Wildly Off-Topic Microsoft-Bashing Day, but we're going to address it today, instead, and for a few very good reasons. First of all, Friday is Christmas Eve, and under typical holiday circumstances, everyone inhabiting the AtAT compound would be far too giddy with anticipation of Imminent Loot Influx to concentrate even the infinitesimal lower-invertebrate amount necessary to whip off one of these episodes. Second, as it turns out, there won't be anyone around to produce a show, because the entire staff-- well, except for the compound's guard Mac, a self-sufficient Classic II with an attitude, mounted on wheels and armed with a cattle prod; burglars beware!-- will be on a plane to Chicagoland on Friday. ("Traveling on Christmas Eve with a toddler in tow," you ask? "Why, yes, we are completely insane; thank you for asking," we reply.) And the third reason is the biggie: Microsoft actually having to suffer a consequence for its antitrust actions is just too darn rare-- and cool-- not to revel in immediately.
That's right, people, Christmas came (marginally) early this year. Many of you may remember way back in March when the European Commission ruled on Microsoft's anticompetitive behavior and slapped Microsoft with a fine of 497 million euros, the largest fine it's ever demanded for antitrust infractions. Of course, while having to shell out the equivalent of two-thirds of a billion dollars would constitute at least a minor inconvenience to most companies, Bill Gates carries that kind of cash in his sock as emergency bus fare. But the EC didn't just fine the company, you may recall: it also demanded that Microsoft share portions of its Windows source code with others, and also sell a version of Windows without Windows Media Player bundled in. And that's the sort of stuff that would hurt Microsoft a whole lot more than a measly little 9-figure fine ever could.
Of course, at the time, we honestly didn't think that Microsoft would have to pay the fine or make the business changes, since historically the company is practically Teflon-coated when it files to appeal rulings like this; remember when the U.S. government ordered the company to be split up? Instead of suffering a massive antitrust breakup, Microsoft appealed and eventually wound up getting nothing worse than a slap on the wrist-- a wrist which the government then immediately kissed, rubbed with fragrant healing oils, and proceeded to massage in a vaguely inappropriate fashion. So when Microsoft immediately appealed the EC ruling as well, we resigned ourselves to a similarly disappointing conclusion.
But when you band 'em together like that, apparently those Europeans don't take no guff from slick U.S. corporations looking to weasel out of taking their medicine. Faithful viewer thorsten tipped us off to a BBC News article which reports that the European Court of First Instance has ruled that "the evidence adduced by Microsoft is not sufficient to show that implementation of the remedies imposed by the Commission might cause serious and irreparable damage," and therefore Microsoft's appeal for a suspension of the fine and corrective measures has been-- dare we say it?-- dismissed "in its entirety."
Oh, man. That may have been the most enjoyable thing we've ever said, ever ever ever. Sweet lady schadenfreude, how you spoil us so...
Now, we're trying not to get too happy about this development, because Microsoft can still appeal again, this time to the European Court of Justice, a.k.a. "the Highest Court in the Land." But still, the fact that Microsoft's first appeal was swatted down so completely bodes well for a final outcome-- and in the meantime, we all get to revel in one excellent prezzie from the Europeans. It's a Festivus Miracle!