The reports from Europe are probably echoing around the Los Angeles Convention Center, where Microsoft’s “Heroes Happen Here” launch event is scheduled to get going this morning. Despite his best efforts to make peace with Neelie Kroes, the European competition commissioner who announced $1.3 billion in fines against the company, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s launch of three big products later today will be overshadowed by the European regulator.
Ballmer is set to give a keynote speech extolling the virtues of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008. Check out today’s story for more on what these products, particularly Server 2008, mean for the company and the market. I wonder if he will make reference to the fines — and whether Microsoft will appeal them. I doubt it. I imagine this is particularly frustrating for Microsoft, especially given its effort last week to position itself and its products as even more open and interoperable — an announcement that was greeted with a skeptical statement by Kroes even as Microsoft executives were still holding a press conference.
I also wonder whether the fines were announced now with Kroes knowing that Microsoft was trotting out major products. Here’s her press release.