Microsoft says (again) it will comply fully with EU antitrust demands

Microsoft says (again) it will comply fully with EU antitrust demands

Summary: Microsoft has decided not to appeal the European Court of First Instance's decision to uphold the European Commission's antitrust decision against Microsoft. Now the company really and truly will provide the protocol documentation that it was ordered to back in 2004, Microsoft officials are saying. I wonder how much this matters any more....


Microsoft has decided not to appeal the European Court of First Instance's decision to uphold the European Commission's antitrust decision against Microsoft.

This means that Microsoft will comply fully with the European Commission's antitrust demands and provide full documentation enabling third-party products to interoperate with Windows and will make necessary protocols available for a lower licensing fee than the company demanded originally.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer cemented the deal with EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes "over dinner in a small restaurant in Mrs. Kroes's home country of the Netherlands." The details, hammered out between courses:

"Under the agreement, Microsoft will license all of its intellectual property, except patents, necessary for competitors to work with a version of Windows used on business servers. Competitors will now pay only a one-time fee for the license of 10,000 euros, rather than royalties. If they believe they need to license patents from Microsoft, Microsoft is required to do so at the rate of 0.4% of the competitors' revenue from the product, well below the 5.95% rate originally suggested by Microsoft.

"Mrs. Kroes, for her part, stopped the clock on daily fines of up to €3 million per day against Microsoft and declared the U.S. software giant was – at least for now -- in Europe's good graces."

I'm not sure I see this as such a watershed moment as the EC seems to. Microsoft has been saying all along that it intended to comply fully with the communications-protocol documenation sharing demands; it conveniently never said how long it would take to do so. Years have gone by and Microsoft still hasn't delivered everything the court stipulated. (Windows isn't the only place where slip dates are more common than timely ship dates.)

Does this mean there is now a new deadline for Microsoft to comply fully? Beyond Samba, who still cares about this interoperability documentation and protocols? In both cases, I'm not sure. And -- all the EC rhetoric to the contrary -- I'm not sure how much it matters any more... especially to the consumers that this antitrust case was supposed to benefit.

Meanwhile, in other antitrust-related news, European regulators are extending the deadline for their investigation into Google's purchase of DoubleClick. The inquiry period originally was slated to end October 26; now it will end on November 13. Microsoft, Yahoo and other online-advertising companies are lobbying against the proposed Google-DoubleClick merger on antitrust grounds.

Back in the U.S., the Department of Justice has stated it is not in favor of extending oversight of Microsoft's antitrust compliance here in the States. While four more states have joined the original group of seven petitioning for five additional years of oversight, the DOJ believes that justice has been served and no extension of the November 12 deadline for oversight is necessary. A hearing on the matter is slated for November 6.

Topics: Security, Enterprise Software, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • The new proxy

    Sure, MS caves to the EU's demands. Of course the interface specs will still be encumbered so the FOSS community won't touch them. No big loss for MS.

    On the other hand MS continues the attack. It's now known that two of the three sides of the Microsoft/Baystar/SCO triangle are in play with the latest attack on Red Hat and Novell. According to the well-researched Pamela Jones at Groklaw, Baystar just happens to hold stock in IP Innovations' parent company Acacia. Add to this the high-profile ex?-MS emloyees now working for IP Innovations and we have to ask how much of this is coincidence. We know MS wants to see Linux adoption slowed or better yet killed entirely. Baystar would love to see Novell pay for stopping the SCO extortion attempt, which, we know they funded. It also may be that Ballmer wants to remind Novell just who now butters their bread.
    Tim Patterson
    • Conspiracy theory

      Suspicion is natural. But I'll wait for facts.

      More significantly, when you are considering Microsoft's strategy, remember that Microsoft is one of the most successful sellers of Linux. In the server market, where Linux is a real competitor (against Unix).

      I think the reason is Linux may be thought a waystation to Windows in Redmond. Other theories are possible.

      That seems a more interesting topic of speculation at this point.
      Anton Philidor
      • Theory or not....

        This serves the MS' patent FUD machine.
        Tim Patterson
    • Acacia & Baystar

      Here's a [url=]link[/url] to the Pamela Jones story regarding Baystar holdings in Acacia, the parent company to IP Innovation, to which Tim Patterson refers.

      And the beat goes on.
      D T Schmitz
  • Benefit consumers?

    A major difference between US and EU law is that in the US, as the Appeals Court observed in the anti-trust case, the benefit to consumers must be given striong consideration in evaluating an action that is doubtful in anti-trust terms. In the EU on the contrary, competition is considered good in itself. Benefitting conmpetitors is a worthwhile goal, no matter whether consumers see any improvement in available products.

    It's the difference between an entreprenneurial economy based on Adam Smith's liberal principles (price and quality competition, winner take all) and a command and control economy (government ordering - if not owning - companies in the market). There's also some suspicion of success, and distaste for the ruthlessness which can increase profits.

    In one model, the consumer benefits directly from better products less expensively. In the other, the consumer benefits indirectly by avoiding the disruptions and dislocations the market can create.

    The liberal model works. Unfortunately. The command model fails. Also unfortunately. People should be able to rely on having their jobs. I blame the peole in government who use their authority unwisely.
    Anton Philidor
    • "distaste for the ruthlessness which can increase profits"

      There's a much better and more accurate word
      for "ruthlessness" in your equation.

      It's F-R-A-U-D FRAUD. A fitting verb could
      be EMBEZZLE.

      You could have qualified your equation by
      adding "reasonable" to profits, but then
      there wouldn't have been any "ruthlessness",
      would there?
      Ole Man
  • Novell vs Microsoft: Court Continues Antitrust Case


    This story is not getting very much circulation--I wonder why? ;)
    D T Schmitz
    • Relevant facts.

      The two "allegations" listed were part of the anti-trust case... against Windows. This case is about Office.

      Judge Motz is the jurist who issued an injunction against Microsoft with the view that Java programmers would leap to .Net the moment it was offered. The Appeals Court rescinded the injunction and indicated (very freely paraphrasing) Judge Motz was nuts to issue it.
      Anton Philidor
      • Novell's Antitrust case moves forward on the two counts...

        [i]"...Novell's two remaining claims allege:

        > Microsoft unlawfully "obtained and maintained its monopoly power in the Intel-compatible operating systems market by engaging in anticompetitive conduct."

        > Microsoft engaged in exclusionary agreements with manufacturers that amounted to unreasonable restraint of trade.

        Novell, which sold WordPerfect and Quattro Pro to Corel in 1996, previously reached a $536 million settlement with Microsoft on antitrust claims involving its NetWare operating system."[/i]

        And the beat goes on.
        D T Schmitz
    • dietrich

      Out of curiosity, are you still using SUSE?
      Tim Patterson
      • I am sorry...

        ...I can only provide information on a 'need to know' basis.
        Please provide justification for your question.
        Thank you.
        D T Schmitz
      • openSUSE 10.3 with KDE and Compiz-Fusion Emerald

        D T Schmitz
        • Just curious

          You know my position on the whole Novell/MS thing.

          I was kinda hoping someone like the very talented Andreas Jaeger would create a new SUSE based distro that is free of Novell's control.
          Tim Patterson
          • That's OK

            I am not convinced they fully comprehended what they were entering into with MS.

            Novell reserves the right to novate any contractual agreement they make with notice.
            D T Schmitz
          • Debian, Red Hat, & PCLinuxOS are just as good or better

            In my opinion. Ubuntu is based on Debian,
            Fedora Core on Red Hat, and PCLinuxOS is
            based on Mandrake. They are all free except
            Red Hat Enterprise.

            I think Novell cut their own throat just to
            watch themselves bleed to death. They had to
            have known that making a deal with Microsoft
            is just dancing with the Devil.
            Ole Man
  • *** Mike Cox speaks to the media! ***

    D T Schmitz
  • Take on Open Source with the Beeb ...

    Straight from the BBC:

    [i]In addition, it will also allow the data to go to open source software developers.[/i]

    So we need more elaboration on this "naughty little crumpet" of information. ;)
  • Moeny Money Money - prew

    I See Microsoft as non working spiritual a machine. I Remember this hard. Steve balmer from a conference:

    Developers Developers Developers Developers Developers Developers Developers Developers Developers ... Developers Developers Developers Developers Developers Developers Developers Developers .... Developers Developers Developers Developers .... He totaly out of his mind telling... Developers Developers Developers Developers Developers ...Developers Developers Developers ---

    We are not all like microsoft but we have to accept what Microsoft puts in our thoat..
  • RE: Microsoft says (again) it will comply fully with EU antitrust demands

    I use a ThinkPad with XP, but this will be the last PC I sue and last Microsoft OS I ever buy. My ThinkPad is great and XP is fine, but Microsoft is a dying firm with an antiquated technology model, let alone their greed.

    It is on to Apple for me.
  • RE: Microsoft says (again) it will comply fully with EU antitrust demands

    Aw geez means MS haas to charge more for the next piece of junk they make hehehehe I am going to go to LINUX full time so I do not worry about MS any more . .