Perhaps there is hope that if my grandchildren work in Europe 20 years from now they will have access to the advanced information technology (IT) of the day. Despite the relentless attack on Microsoft (MSFT) and others by Neelie Kroes of the European Union (EU) Competition Commission, I find some hope in the news that the same group has just ended a 20-year ban on misshapen fruits and vegetables.
Do you really want to work or do business in a geography that tries to legislate or regulate the shape of food?
Kroes has taken the same tack when it comes to legislating or regulating the IT market, supposedly to the benefit of EU’s citizens and guest workers but in reality it’s a ploy to create a European software counterforce to “American” software companies. I believe “Software has no nationality;” in my opinion there are no “American” or “EU” software companies. IBM (IBM), Oracle (ORCL) and other nominally American IT suppliers get a very large percentage of their business in the EU. Conversely SAP (SAP), Software Ag (Frankfurt TecDAX: SOW) get a large percentage of their revenue in the U.S.
But the EU continues to beat on Microsoft. Kroes has signaled that it would probably stall a Microsoft-Yahoo (YHOO) deal. She constantly encourages member states to buy “open standards” (code for "not Microsoft" although the concept of “open standards” is absurd).The EU’s attempt to control its citizens’ IT choices has been going on since the birth of the IT market.
Microsoft on the other hand wants appears to want to bury the hatchet. But Microsoft’s removal of a sentence from its 10-K is not going to change the EU’s 50-year effort to manipulate freedom in the marketplace. I have hoped for the last three years that Microsoft would get out of its money-losing operations in the EU. Although I believe it’s an empty threat Microsoft has also been saying the following in its 10-K for years.
“We may have to choose (to withdraw) products from certain geographies …”