Ancient EU Dispute Ends With $1B Fine Against Microsoft Upheld
Today in international tech news: Microsoft's attempt to overturn an EU fine fails, leaving it on the hook for more than $1 billion. Also: The New York Times launches a Chinese-language website; arsonists attack Microsoft's Greek headquarters in what multiple outlets say is a protest against austerity measures; Apple launches iTunes stores across Asia -- but not in China.
06/27/12 9:07 AM PT
European Union regulators on Wednesday upheld a billion-dollar fine levied against Microsoft, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The fine was first issued in 2008 because Microsoft failed to comply with an order that it share product information with its competitors. Microsoft argued that it was not given enough guidance for how to comply, but EU regulators apparently weren't swayed. The company also argued that the fine was excessive.
The European General Court, Europe's second-highest court, did lower the fine from 899 million euros to 860 million euros (about US$1.12 billion to $1.07 billion).
Microsoft's tiff with the EU began in 1998 after Sun Microsystems filed an antitrust complaint regarding the Windows operating system. Microsoft was forced to pay 497 million euros ($619 million) in 2004 for "anticompetitive practices" and then another 281 euros million ($350 million) for breaching competition rules.
< All told, Microsoft's tab has reached 1.7 billion euros ($2.1 billion)
European regulators are neck-deep in legal battles with U.S. tech companies. Chip maker Intel, which will have a hearing starting on July 3, is seeking to overturn a 1.06 billion euro ($1.3 billion) fine issued in 2009. Oh, and Microsoft is a plaintiff in an upcoming EU case against Google.
Arsonists Attacked Microsoft's Greek HQ
Arsonists attacked Microsoft's headquarters in Greece as part of anti-austerity protests throughout the eurozone, according to The Guardian.
Arsonists reportedly drove a stolen truck into the entrance of Microsoft's offices in Athens and set fire to the vehicle. The attack caused severe damage to the office, where more than 100 people work. No personnel were at the building during the time of the attack.
Banks, foreign firms and politicians have been targets of arson attacks in Greece in recent years, according to The Guardian. The outlet cites harsh austerity measures as the culprit for both violent and non-violent protest, such as a recent nationwide strike by restaurant workers.
NYT to Launch Chinese Site
The New York Times is launching a Chinese version of its website, according to Tech In Asia.
The Times, whose website will be at cn.nytimes.com, also recently opened an account on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media platform. That Weibo account featured an announcement about cn.nytimes.com.
It's not clear whether the website will feature translated English articles or original, Chinese-language content, according to the report.
The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times have Chinese sites which are accessible in China. The BBC has perhaps the most popular Chinese-language website http://www.bbc.co.uk/zhongwen/simp/ among Western media. Alas, it is blocked in China.
Apple Launches iTunes Stores in Asia
Apple opened an online iTunes stores in Taiwan, Hong Kong and 10 other Asian nations on Wednesday, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
The launches are reportedly part of Apple's broader efforts to expand its music and video sales in Asia, which is the company's fastest-growing region.
Prior to Wednesday, the only way Apple users could access the iTunes store there was to use gift cards from other countries. People also had to download iPad, iPhone and iPod apps through Apple's App Store.
Apple did not launch an iTunes store in China.