IRVINE, CA–Under Monday’s ruling by a European Union appeals court, Microsoft must disclose secret software codes to rivals, strip Windows Media Player from its operating system, and pay a $613 million fine. The court rejected Microsoft’s appeal of a 2004 antitrust ruling in which the company was found to have “abused” its “dominant position” in the marketplace.

“This ruling violates Microsoft’s right to profit from the enormous popular acceptance of its Windows operating system,” said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. “Microsoft cannot force anyone to buy its products. If the company sets prices unreasonably high relative to its customers’ interests, then competitors are free to step in and offer a better value.  But if 95 percent of consumers choose to buy Windows software, then Microsoft has a right to profit from that success and not be punished for it.”

The ruling forces Microsoft to disclose the secret codes used by workgroup servers to access Windows-based computers, and it also requires the company to offer a version of Windows that omits the company’s proprietary media player.

“European regulators should have no power to dictate the availability or price of any company’s inventory of goods, services, or intellectual property,” said Dr. Brook.  “Antitrust laws in Europe and America unjustly threaten the freedom of every successful business and should be abolished.”

If Microsoft chooses not to appeal, the multi-million-dollar fine will be distributed to the member states of the European Union.  “The governments of Europe should be ashamed, dividing the loot like highway robbers who have terrorized a helpless victim,” said Dr. Brook.

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