One might think we live in feudal times, what with an unelected bureaucrat being able to tax companies arbitrarily and retroactively. However, since it’s an “anti-trust” issue, the European Commission gets around calling it a tax or tariff, and thus can charge whatever the Commission decides. There is no rate schedule to adhere to, no trade agreements to abide. Didn’t we get past this kind of thing hundreds of years ago?
Obviously, this sort of fine does not improve the software market in Europe, any more than the EC’s decision to force Microsoft to sell a hobbled version of Windows, which no one bought. And why would they? The EC has little accountability to consumers (read: citizens) and thus has very little idea what they want.
One is only left with the conclusion that the point of such punishment is self-enrichment for the EC, distraction away from a sclerotic European software industry, and self-aggrandizement for individual bureaucrats.
What to do next for Microsoft? I’ve seen plenty of comments that say they should withdraw from the European market, etc. I understand the instinct, but it would be self-defeating.
Instead, Microsoft should double down and market the hell out of its products in Europe. In other words, go straight to the people. This would offer two upsides: first, more revenue to make up for the fines. And second, to show the bureaucrats how little they know about what’s best for their citizens.