EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

10.08.09

Microsoft Wins Free Software-Hostile Deal in Europe, Its Front Group ACT Pleased

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Interoperability, Microsoft, Patents at 3:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EU and Polish flag

Summary: By pushing law-enforcing action to the end of term, Microsoft has successfully bamboozled the Commission

IT IS no secret that Microsoft has undergone scrutiny in Europe for only few of its many offenses. The BBC reported yesterday:

The European Union has begun an investigation to determine whether Microsoft is upholding pledges to curb anti-competitive practices.

[...]

The company was also told to give rivals more information about how Windows works, so they could make their own software integrate better with the operating system.

Microsoft appealed against the decision but lost its case in 2007.

The latest development was covered most closely by The Register, which wrote about a looming deal that the FSFE and a Samba lawyer warned about because they knew it would be bad. Here is Heise covering the opposition:

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) has published an open letter addressed to European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes. The letter arises out of the foundation’s concern that settling the two Directorate General for Competition cases against Microsoft too hastily could have long-term detrimental effects on the competitiveness of desktop systems. The European Commission is presently investigating the bundling of Internet Explorer (IE) with the Microsoft operating system. Furthermore, the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) has complained of Microsoft’s reluctance to release important information needed to ensure the compatibility of open source software with Microsoft products.

FSFE warned about this in advance. And they were right.

Microsoft is a step nearer to settling a large part of its ongoing disagreements with the European Commission – the regulators have agreed to market-test Microsoft’s suggested solution to browser bundling.

The software giant offered to include a ballot screen which would show users a choice of possible browsers when a machine is first booted up.

It does not go far enough. And check out the following report:

The company promises to support public, open industry standards and document that support.

Access to interoperability information will be “subject to no more than a nominal upfront fee” – this issue particularly irking the open source community.

When it comes to Web browsers, 'Microsoft Meller' quotes Neelie Kroes as saying that she knew what she was getting.

Kroes said she is sure some of Microsoft’s rivals will not be satisfied by the new offer. “A number of people are never 100 percent satisfied,” she said.

So why make the deal in a hurry? There was a similar mistake being made in 2007 — a bad deal which was signed about 2 years ago. After a meal with Steve Ballmer, Neelie Kroes agreed to a deal which was hostile towards Free software, Microsoft’s #1 competitor. She is doing it again and Groklaw explains some of the obvious issues.

Here’s Microsoft’s statement, glowing with happiness that their two proposals, with some changes suggested in the last month or so by the EU Commission, have basically been adopted, if the test works out.

[...]

Privately enforced? Informal? Meaning we get to pay to sue Microsoft? The EU Commission washes its hands regarding enforcement? I’m afraid that doesn’t sound promising.

[...]

Famous last words. A trustful deal with Microsoft. Lordy. The problem isn’t that they don’t understand. Call me cynical, but I also don’t believe she suddenly trusts Microsoft. On what basis? Microsoft’s behavior for the last ten years in its dealing with the EU Commission? Puh lease.

Ms. Kroes’ five-year term ends in a month, unless it is renewed or extended.

[...]

We’ve already learned that it is not royalty-free. And I have a question. If you can’t patent software as such in Europe, how come the EU Commission allows patent licenses for a fee in Europe?

Microsoft’s front group ACT quickly appears on the scene to promote and praise the deal.

“We are glad that Microsoft and the EC have reached a compromise in which developers are not adversely affected by the removal of code from Windows,” said Jonathan Zuck, president of the Association for Competitive Technology.

CNET’s Microsoft PR person plays a role that’s similar to the lobbyist above by parroting Microsoft.

This whole episode comes to show that nothing has changed. Microsoft is passing some new self-serving laws, gently bribing/influencing the right people, and continuing to abuse the market as though it has a God-given right to do so. In this case, by procrastinating forever, Microsoft managed to push legal action to the end of the term, which then led to a rushed and foolish decision. As always, Microsoft relies heavily not just on lobbyists but also on endurance in court — that is, testing the regulators’ (law enforcers or competitors) patience and depth of pockets.

“Microsoft and its employees now think it is indeed the Master of the Universe.”

Stewart Alsop, Fortune

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

4 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    October 8, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Gravatar

    Sadly, the EU did not settle with Microsoft, it capitulated. The charge involved bundling and the offered solution gives the stamp of approval to the very behavior which the antitrust case was about.

    Any real solution has to involve either unbundling of MSIE from Windows or a plain old banket ban on Windows and or Microsoft products in the EU.

  2. Yuhong Bao said,

    October 8, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Gravatar

    “Any real solution has to involve either unbundling of MSIE from Windows”
    Windows 7 is already released, so that would have to wait until next version of Windows. And even then things like HTML Help may need at least some part of IE.

  3. Yuhong Bao said,

    October 8, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Gravatar

    But at least the browser ballot is a good step in this direction and IMO essential if IE is not going to be installed by default, because users need a web browser to download other web browsers. I mean, try installing a web browser on Windows 95 which did not ship with any.

    Mikko Reply:

    the browser and other programs came with a shareware cd from the store

What Else is New


  1. Links 26/7/2014: New Wine, Chromebooks Strong Sales

    Links for the day



  2. Links 25/7/2014: GOG With GNU/Linux, Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS

    Links for the day



  3. Links 24/7/2014: Oracle Linux 7; Fedora Delays

    Links for the day



  4. Valerie Strauss Explains Why Gates Foundation's Lobbying for 'Common Core' (Privatisation) is a Swindle That Makes Microsoft Richer

    Continued criticism of the Gates Foundation's lobbying and masquerading, with more journalists brave enough to highlight the corruption



  5. USPTO Officially Sets New Guidelines to Limit Scope of Software Patents in the United States

    Even patent lawyers finally acknowledge that the incentive to file software patent applications has been reduced, as the scope of patents on software has been noticeably narrowed and they are harder to acquire, let alone enforce in a courtroom



  6. UK Government Adopts OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Microsoft Already Attacks the Government Over It, Showing Absolutely No Commitment to Open Standards

    Only "Microsoft as the standard" is the 'standard' Microsoft is willing to accept, as its response to the Cabinet Office's judgment reveals



  7. Microsoft Layoffs of 2014

    Another quick look at Microsoft's horrible state of affairs and why it has virtually nothing to do with Nokia



  8. Links 22/7/2014: Linux 3.16 RC 6, New UberStudent

    Links for the day



  9. Links 20/7/2014: Jolla in India, Mega Censored in Italy

    Links for the day



  10. Longtime Mono Booster Joins Microsoft-linked Xamarin

    Jo Shields almost joins Microsoft, settling instead for its proxy, Xamarin



  11. Linux Foundation Welcomes Patent Aggressor Red Bend Software

    The Linux Foundation's AllSeen Alliance welcomes as a member a company that uses software patents to sue Free/Open Source software



  12. Matt Levy From Patent Progress (and CCIA) Does Not Really Want Patent Progress

    Matthew ('Matt') Levy moved into a foe of patent progress last year, but he still runs a site calls Patent Progress, in which he diverts all attention to patent trolls (as large corporations such as Microsoft like to do)



  13. Attacking FOSS by Ignoring/Overlooking Issues With Proprietary Software

    The biasing strategy which continues to be used to demonise Free/Open Source software (FOSS) along with some new examples



  14. Links 19/7/2014: CRUX 3.1 is Out, CyanogenMod Competes With Google Now

    Links for the day



  15. Microsoft's Massive Layoffs Go Far Beyond Nokia; Nokia's Android Phones Axed by Microsoft's Elop

    Microsoft's rapid demise and permanent exit from Nokia's last remaining Linux platform (after Microsoft had killed two more)



  16. Patents on Software Already Being Invalidated in Courts Owing to SCOTUS Ruling on 'Abstract' Patents

    The Federal Circuit Appeals Court has just "invalidated a software patent for being overly abstract," says a patents expert



  17. OpenSUSE 'Community' is Crumbling, AttachMSFT Killed SUSE's Potential (Except as Microsoft Tax)

    Not much too see in the land of SUSE and Attachmate, or formerly the company known as Novell



  18. Links 18/7/2014: Slackware Turns 21, Spotify Switches to Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  19. Links 16/7/2014: Manjaro 0.8.10 Third Update, SIA Migrates to Red Hat

    Links for the day



  20. Microsoft's Latest Round of Massive/Bulk/Large-scale Layoffs

    Microsoft boosters are preparing 'damage control' pieces ahead of massive layoffs at Microsoft



  21. Secrecy Allows British Government to be Manipulated by Microsoft for Spyware Behind Closed Doors

    Dependence on malicious software from NSA ally Microsoft is highly dependent, at least in Britain, on government secrecy and vain refusal to comply with Freedom of Information (FOI) requests



  22. Software Patent Applications Already Being Rejected in the US Owing to SCOTUS Ruling, Some Patent Lawyers Are Fuming

    Good news on the software patents front as the USPTO starts rejecting software patent applications, based on patent lawyers' words



  23. Links 15/7/2014: New Plasma, Google Announces Project Zero

    Links for the day



  24. Interest in Free Software Coverage and 9 Months With Tux Machines

    Thoughts about the level of interest in Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and growth of at least some sites that focus on GNU/Linux



  25. White House Backs Away From Appointing Patents Zealot to Top USPTO Position

    Philip Johnson is no longer poised to become the Director of the USPTO, which is basically an establishment that provides protectionism to primarily US-based corporations



  26. Professor James Bessen Presents the Case Against Software Patents After Important SCOTUS Ruling

    The debate about software patents in the Unites States continues, with academia on one side and greedy patent lawyers on the other



  27. Software Patents Demising in the US as Microsoft Patent Attacks on Android/Linux Suffer a Huge Setback

    M-Cam's assessment of Microsoft's bundle of extortion (using software patents) shows toothlessness, irrespective of the SCOTUS decision to effectively annul "abstract" software patents



  28. Links 13/7/2014: KDE Activity Surge

    Links for the day



  29. Pro-Microsoft Spin in Microsoft-Funded News Networks

    The rogue media (misinformation) campaign of Microsoft benefits from networks which have been paid by Microsoft over the years



  30. Cronyism at Play: European Hostility Towards Free/Libre Software Despite Espionage and Moles

    Europe continues to be held hostage with back doors, lock-in, and massive payments to foreign powers, despite evidence that these powers are destructive and hostile


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts