European Woes

Today's EU ruling against Microsoft is another massive hit for the company.

The company desperately needs new blood at the top and to be far braver than it is at present. It also needs to accelerate the move to online through its confusing 'Live!' portal and needs to significantly reduce prices in a market where there are plenty of free products that do what its software does. MSN and Live! remain confused and ad revenues remain a tiny part of the company's revenues at a time when their major rival gets the majority of its revenues from this source. Missing out on the Doubleclick auction was a near-fatal mistake for the senior management.

Part of the EU ruling is the unbundling of Windows Media Player from the OS - I suspect Microsoft will sneakily use the Silverlight plug-in to get around this and force silent acquisition of the WMP object as soon as anyone connects to a Microsoft controlled site. It's difficult to see what other real choice there is - Flash video does not require an install, Quick Time is good for downloads only and Real has drifted into obscurity. In fact, the ruling is probably good news for Real above anyone else.

But Silverlight remains too little, too late for Microsoft and the company's video strategy remains fragmented and confused. The EU ruling is unlikely to change anything for a company in denial.