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Microsoft Lobbying in Europe Goes Up a Notch

EPO backlash



Summary: Microsoft's latest steps in Europe are dissected despite great secrecy

A WHILE ago we showed that one familiar Microsoft lobbying arm had just published an anti-Free software paper.



Well, that little story is not exactly over. As the FSFE's departing top gun (Greve) puts it, "Microsoft sockpuppets [are] accusing [the] European Commission [of] hav[ing] "Free Software bias" [URL] Could I get a spending comparison, please?" Greve draws attention to this new IDG article.

According to the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), the emphasis on open standards in the Commission's white paper amounts to a bias in favour of open-source software.


Paul Meller helps ACT hide its identity as a Microsoft mouthpiece. Meller is known in the relevant circles for his pro-Microsoft bias and he is one of the most prominent examples of those who are refusing to see/acknowledge EU lobbying in general or Microsoft lobbying in particular (see this recent example from ACT).

Having previously "schmoozed" Neelie Kroes to escape most severe punishments, Microsoft seems to be trying something similar right now. Microsoft reportedly tries to end those antitrust cases which it perceives as a nuisance.

Microsoft Corp., which has been fined 1.68 billion euros ($2.34 billion) in European Union antitrust cases, is in preliminary talks to settle two additional probes before EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes leaves office, four people familiar with the negotiations said.

Any agreement would have to resolve a case over Microsoft’s Internet browser as well as a separate investigation into word processing and spreadsheet software, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are confidential.


Watch this recent video.

The optimists almost ignore a clear opposition to Microsoft's self-elected 'punishment' (opposition from the Commission, Opera, and Mozilla at the very least) and bend over to characterise the omission of a Web browser from Vista 7 as a fair thing:

When Windows 7 ships without IE8 will it be good news for free software browsers?



There is but only if we stop looking at OEM PC shipments as a mark of success. One of the main supporters of the EU anti-trust case was — unsurprisingly — Opera. However, they feel this unbundling move isn’t enough. To paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies: well they wouldn’t would they? Opera would prefer consumers are given a choice of browser to install when they first boot their PC. This is — quite frankly — unworkable as the list of browsers would become unwieldy and confusing and at that stage all the user will want to do is turn on their shiny new kit and start playing with it.

But giving some choice could be a nice side-effect of all this. OEMs could offer alternative browsers and they would likely include Firefox. If that proved a success then we could see other software alternatives being offered. Eventually we could end up with the scenario I describe above: consumers specifying not only the hardware but the software that comes with their OEM PC.


Lastly, just minutes ago I received a letter from the European Ombudsman. They have assigned people to handle the complaint about Microsoft and ACT, so thanks to everyone who helped.

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