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 20/7/2019: Weston 7.0 Alpha, Nageru 1.9.0

    Links for the day



  2. Companies That Collapse Because the European Patent Office (EPO) Gave Them Fake Patents in a Hurry

    False hopes and false promises won’t do any favours to European Patents, whose legal certainty suffers because Campinos and Battistelli measure nothing but ‘production’ (quantity) rather than quality of patents



  3. Slack Committed a Very Major Crime That Can Cost Many Billions If Not Trillions in Damages for Years to Come

    The inevitable has happened to Slack, which no longer deserves to exist as a company; moreover, the people who ran the company must be held criminally accountable



  4. Demand for European Patents Will Continue to Decrease If a Lot of European Patents Turn Out to be Invalid, Worthless

    The EPO's abandonment of patent justice and quality (in pursuit of so-called 'production' targets) is likely to doom the Office as the whole or render it vastly less relevant to the rest of the world



  5. 35 U.S.C. § 101 Still in Tact in the United States and Software Patents Rot Away

    The United States, where the number of granted patents decreased last year, becomes more productive; there are more signs that patent maximalism (patent litigation, patent scope etc.) has receded



  6. Links 19/7/2019: Deepin 15.11 and GNU/Linux Back on GPD MicroPC

    Links for the day



  7. Violence is Not Free Speech and Laws Exist Against Violence

    Free speech is certainly under attack and the debate is being framed within the context of Nazism; but this overlooks the fact that there are actual death threats and calls for genocide in the mix



  8. Links 19/7/2019: Oracle Linux 8.0, Latte Dock 0.9 Beta and PCLinuxOS KDE Darkstar 2019.07

    Links for the day



  9. Why Does Jim Zemlin Publicly Congratulate Microsoft?

    The signs aren't particularly encouraging when one considers that the leadership of the Linux Foundation is a fan of Microsoft and sometimes connected to Microsoft



  10. 2 Days Later (Case in Progress) and Still Media Silence About G 2/19

    The very legitimacy of years' worth of rulings and the EPO's abusive attacks on judges are under the microscope; but the media isn't paying any attention, perhaps deliberately



  11. The 'Linux' Foundation is Acting Like a Microsoft ISV Now, Commitment to Linux and FOSS Deteriorates Even Further

    The Linux Foundation has just announced a new Microsoft-funded initiative that's pushing GitHub and CLAs (passing copyrights on code to corporations)



  12. Links 18/7/2019: OPNsense 19.7, Krita 4.2.3 and KDevelop 5.3.3 Released

    Links for the day



  13. Index: G 2/19 (Enlarged Board of Appeal, EPO)

    G 2/19 (Enlarged Board of Appeal, EPO)



  14. EPO Looney Tunes – Part 4: G 2/19 - Faites Vos Jeux…

    "Josefsson needs to bring in the “desired result” for his political masters in the Administrative Council if he wants to be in with a chance of reappointment."



  15. Media Not Interested in G 2/19, Which Demonstrates Patent Justice is Nowadays Impossible at the EPO

    The EPO spreads patent injustices to other countries and courts; the media is miraculously enough not interested, almost as though there's a coordinated blackout



  16. Librethreat Database Updated

    Database which keeps track of variants of attack vectors on Free/libre software now includes two more forms of threat



  17. A Look Back (and Forward) at Friendly Programming

    Historical perspective on computer languages and how to do better



  18. Red Hat's Freedom Reduced to Just Online Partner Enablement Network (OPEN) and Microsoft as a Close Partner; Canonical's Ubuntu Just an 'App' for Windows?

    Free software is being snapped up by proprietary software giants and patent bullies that treat it as little more than an 'add-on' for their proprietary offerings



  19. Linux Foundation Apparently Celebrates Sysadmin Day With a Microsoft Windows Site!

    The Linux Foundation shows ‘love’ to actual GNU/Linux (the real thing) by apparently rejecting it and badmouthing it



  20. EPO Looney Tunes – Part 3: The Legal Line-up for G 2/19

    The deck appears to have already been stacked for G 2/19, a decision on EPO judges' exile to Haar (veiled disciplinary action/collective punishment by those whom the judges are supposed to 'oversee')



  21. Links 17/7/2019: VirtualBox 6.0.10 and Mageia 7.1 Releases, Mint Betas

    Links for the day



  22. Links 16/7/2019: Btrfs Gets 'Cleaned Up', Clonezilla Live 2.6.2-15

    Links for the day



  23. EPO Looney Tunes - Part 2: The “Difficult Legacy” and Its Dark Historical Shadow

    Assuming that he was informed, then it seems fair to say that Battistell’s little “joke” at the expense of the Boards was in very bad taste



  24. EPO Noise Machine Turned On as Haar Hearing Kicks Off, Patrick Corcoran Defamed Again

    The EPO does not want people to hear about Haar; it just wants people to hear about how wonderful the EPO is and there are some who have just decided to slander Patrick Corcoran again



  25. Microsoft is 'Doing Kamikaze' (神風) on Linux

    An analogy for what the Linux (only in name!) Foundation and Microsoft mean to Linux — or by extension to GNU/Linux and Free software whose largest repository Microsoft took control of



  26. The 'New' Linux.com Sometimes Feels Like a Microsoft Promotion Site

    Anything that the ‘Linux’ Foundation touches seems to turn into its proprietors’ agenda; one of those proprietors is Microsoft, which has a "Jihad" against Linux



  27. IBM is a Threat to the Internet, Not Just to Software Development (Due to Software Patents Aggression)

    IBM continues its aggression against technology — a fact that’s even more distressing now that IBM calls the shots at Red Hat



  28. EPO Looney Tunes - Part 1: Is D-Day Approaching for Battistelli’s “Difficult Legacy”?

    European patent justice isn’t working within the premises of EPOnia; a bunch of ‘show trials’ may in fact turn out to be just that — a show



  29. Links 16/7/2019: LXD 3.15, Q4OS 3.8 and D9VK 0.13f

    Links for the day



  30. Links 15/7/2019: Vulkan 1.1.115 and Facebook Openwashing

    Links for the day


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

Recent Posts