Breaking the Bubble

EU hands Microsoft $1.3 billion fine

In a move to send a message to Microsoft and all other companies, the European antitrust regulator levied a $1.35 billion fine against the world’s largest software company on Wednesday, reported The New York Times.

The size of the fine surprised lawyers and legal experts, as the European Commission and its main antitrust regulator, Neelie Kroes, made a clear assertion of their power. Microsoft’s issue with the commission has cost them more than $2.3 billion.

This decision might pose future problems for other technology companies Apple, Intel and Qualcomm. The vigorous interpretations of what is considered unfair competition has the potential to raise operating costs in Europe for these and other American companies.

In a statement that followed the decision, Kroes expressed her irritation with what she said was Microsoft’s failure to make the changes that were ordered by the commission in 2004. Those changes were ordered when the commission deemed Microsoft’s market dominance of its Window’s software to be abusive.

Last Thursday, Microsoft published 30,000 pages of previously secret software code of the Window’s operating system. They considered this move as a significant concession toward greater openness and compatibility with its competitors. Microsoft responded to the commission’s decision by stating that it was reviewing the decision. It also said that it considered the fine as part of past issues that had already been resolved.

Drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis spreads in former USSR

Drug-resistant tuberculosis cases in parts of the former Soviet Union are at the highest ever recorded, reported The New York Times. The World Health Organization (WHO) released these findings Tuesday from the largest global survey on the problem, and said that the rates could go even higher, potentially spreading the disease to other locations.

In Baku, Azerbaijin, 22.3 percent of new tuberculosis cases are resistant to the standard anti-TB drug regimen. These rates are the highest in the survey. The period of the survey period lasted from 2002 to 2006.

The first survey in four years, the data collected shows that earlier predictions about the inability of governments to keep control of the disease in many areas proved to be correct. Health officials blame this on the fact that the governments had not invested enough to build, equip and staff laboratories that would be able to detect the presence of the disease. They also blame the current state of disease on countries not stockpiling enough of the standard drugs and not monitoring patients to ensure they completed the full extent of their treatment.