07.28.09

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FSFE Responds to Browser Competition While Apple Proceeds to Blocking Another Competitor

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, Europe, FSF, Microsoft at 6:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lazy morning coffee

Summary: Exclusion of competition, courtesy of the largest providers of non-Free operating systems for desktops

A FEW days ago we wrote about the European Commission's progress with Microsoft — a progress that still discriminates against Free software. Bloomberg has updated coverage of all that and the FSFE has just written a semi-formal response of its own. It rightly calls for global action because not only European citizens were injured by Microsoft’s abusive and illegal behaviour.

Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) congratulates the European Commission on its firm stance in the antitrust investigation against Microsoft, which has led the company to offer a settlement. For any such settlement, getting the details right will be crucial for competition and innovation in the web browser market.

“To ensure genuine consumer choice, the ballot screen must be made available to Microsoft Windows users around the world, not just in Europe”, says Karsten Gerloff, President of FSFE. “The company is upholding its dominance thanks to the network effects created by its illegal practice of bundling Internet Explorer with Windows operating systems in all markets where it sells its software. In a globally interconnected market, remedies must be global.”

Be aware that Web sites which spin this as a scapegoat scenario where Apple and GNU/Linux should be similarly treated are conveniently ignoring the fact that the European Commission punishes Microsoft for criminal behaviour and illegally-obtained monopoly; it is not solely about leveling the playing field, which would be trivialisation of the big issue.

“Microsoft allowed us to [remove Internet Explorer from Windows] but we don’t think we should have to ask permission every time we want to make some minor software modification. Windows is an operating system, not a religion.”

Gateway Computer Chairman Ted Waitt

Another company to keep an eye on would be Apple, whose latest mischiefs we wrote about several days ago. Apple is not a friend of Free software. Add to this list its new attack on VoIP that ts may be carrying out at the behest of AT&T, which would not only violate neutrality regulations but also constuitute collusion.

Now it’s hard to say with certainty who’s to blame for these app rejections, but a good many fingers are pointing to the cellular carriers — and given AT&T’s previous statements about the SlingPlayer app, it’s hard to argue with that. For its part, the company hinted at finding a workaround via web apps, much like they did when Apple gave Latitude a cold shoulder — but doesn’t that feel just a little 2007?

This is also covered here. According to one source, Russian Telcos are generally attacking Skype at the moment, using FUD to conceal competitive reasons.

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