Will this be the end of it?
Either party can appeal to the European Court of Justice, the EU's highest court, but only on orders of law. Microsoft has not yet said whether it will file such an appeal. "We just need to think about this," said Smith said Monday. "It's a serious and substantial decision and it deserves serious thought rather than an instantaneous decision."
Smith was anything but confrontational in his news conference minutes after the decision. "We are 100 percent committed to complying with every aspect of the Commission's decision," he said. How that happens, however, particularly with regard to the protocols that Microsoft must offer rivals, is still somewhat up in the air.
During his news conference, Smith noted that there were "a couple of issues that need to be sorted out," and listed them as the licensing pricing and the protection of trade secrets. Microsoft and the Commission have butted heads repeatedly over the protocols, resulting in additional fines levied by the antitrust regulators.
What's this I heard about US Congress jumping into the fray?
You heard right. Hours after the Court issued its decision, Rep. Robert Wexler, (D-Fla.), announced that he would hold a hearing in the subcommittee he chairs in the House Committee of Foreign Affairs on the ruling. "The European Court decision today sets a dangerous precedent and will have a dramatic impact on US-EU economic relations," Wexler said. "I am concerned that American high tech companies, including Microsoft, are being unfairly targeted by zealous European Commission regulators."
Who might be next on the Commission's list?
Apple. On Wednesday and Thursday, the Commission will hold hearings into iTunes' pricing. This is the follow-up to the Commission's April accusations, when it said Apple and the four biggest record labels charged customers in different EU countries different prices for digital music.