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EU to Microsoft: You'll Have Nothing and Like It

Microsoft
Microsoft

0%: That's what the European Union's Commission thinks Microsoft deserves for licensing its vital communications code -- a stance that would enable Microsoft rivals to manufacture software compatible with its dominant Windows operating system. CNBC's Jim Goldman reported on the latest chapter in the seemingly never-ending antitrust saga.

Goldman, who writes the CNBC.com Tech Check blog, reminded "Power Lunch" viewers that the EU had a different point of view three years ago: After demanding that Microsoft share its data with competitors, the body's regulatory arm also said that the software leviathan "could attach a royalty to the data."

But after Bill Gates' company filed to charge "nearly 6%" of any competitor's server revenues as a licensing fee, the EU balked. Calling the rate "excessive," the Continental regulator has done an about-face, and now says Microsoft must share the data for free.

Would the world's biggest software company really be hurt by the revenue loss? According to Brendan Barnicle of Pacific Crest Securities, that's beside the point. He said that the data itself would "not be all that valuable [to Microsoft]" as a "direct revenue loss" -- but could "impact their position competitively."

Goldman notes that rather than earning anything from distributing the data, Microsoft would prefer to keep it totally proprietary. And, he says, the firm's arch-nemeses IBM, Sun Microsystems and Oracle are "champing at the bit" to access the code.

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