The European Union has done what the US Justice Department was too much of weenie to do: slap the Big Monopoly with fines and restrictions due to it’s illegal business practices. The $613 million fine is chicken feed, about 1.2% of what the company has in cash and probably a small percentage of what they earn every quarter. The bigger penalties for the BM come from the EU requirements to change their software.

Industry experts say that the non-financial penalties are likely to hurt Microsoft more by opening it to further challenges and altering the regulatory environment it operates in. Mr Monti [the EU Competition Commissioner] has ordered Microsoft to reveal details of its Windows software codes within 120 days, to make it easier for rivals to design compatible products. Microsoft must offer a stripped-down version of its Windows operating system minus the firm’s MediaPlayer audiovisual software within 90 days.

Of course, the Big Monopoly is appealing – in the legal sense that is.