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10.24.07

The Free Software Community Warns the EU About the Microsoft Agreement

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, GPL, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Samba, Servers, SUN at 7:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Based on previous coverages of the agreement in Europe [1, 2, 3, 4] it can trivially be concluded that Microsoft shrewdly took steps against its main rival, which is Free software. It made the agreement incompatible with the GPL and Neelie Kroes is apparently unable to see this. What’s more, software patents are suddenly perceived as legitimate in Europe — an observation that had the FFII awoken with a press release. FFII was not alone though. We were sent the following pointer by an anonymous reader:

Paris, October 23, 2007 – Press Release

APRIL urges caution when considering the European Commission’s recent settlement with Microsoft, which would accept to comply with the requirements described in its 2004 conviction for monopolistic practices. An in-depth study of the specifics of the settlement (to date unavailable) is required to determine whether this announcement is not just a Pyrrhic victory for the Commission, for interoperability, and for free markets. In any event, the announcement seems to give a green light to the acceptance of software patents in Europe.

Will the EU receive the message and be able to backtrack? Groklaw has just taken a careful look at the complete agreement and it makes telling observations.

Lordy, there is always a “The GPL Need Not Apply” clause in everything Microsoft does. In this case, it’s mutual and no GPL folks will be applying for that license. Maybe it’s a good thing that no cash strapped vendors can be tempted. But it does mean, whether the EU Commission realizes it yet or not that Microsoft’s number one competitor, Linux, is completely unable to be interoperable with Microsoft’s patented code. I’m curious as to how that is helpful to the public who wish to have a choice.

Matt Aslett summarises some of the key issues and perspectives as well. His post contains some valuable hyperlinks. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal (blogs) proves that it just doesn’t get it.

But none of this will make a bit of difference as to how you buy or use software from Microsoft or anyone else.

Yet another reminder of the fact that the mainstream press simply ignores the big picture.

One has to wonder if, just as Shane once predicted, Novell’s and Sun’s role (deals with Microsoft) led to this atmosphere where interoperability is assumed to bear a cost.

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