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Microsoft to testify at Oracle/Sun European Commission hearing

The "source" reports are true: Microsoft is going to be participating in this week's hearing held by the European Commission regarding Oracle's proposal to take over Sun. Microsoft is in the opposition camp to the proposed merger. But why?
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Written by Mary Jo Foley, Contributor on

The "source" reports are true: Microsoft is going to be participating in this week's hearing held by the European Commission regarding Oracle's proposal to take over Sun.

We "can confirm participation at the hearing and that the company has previously responded to inquiry from the Commission about the deal," said a corporate spokesperson whom I asked about the reports. Because of the confidential nature of the proceedings, Microsoft officials were unwilling to say more.

The hearing is slated for Thursday and Friday in Brussels. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Microsoft officials will be offering arguments as to why the merger shouldn't be allowed. (There have been previous reports that Microsoft has voiced concerns about the deal. I guess they've done that behind supposedly closed doors. I couldn't find much of anything attributable to them publicly, beyond CEO Steve Ballmer saying he didn't see why a software company would want to buy a hardware company.)

U.S. antitrust regulators already have OK'd the Sun/Oracle merger. But the EC has not, seemingly because of fears that Oracle might kill off Sun's open-source MySQL database. Oracle submitted its written defense of the take over to the EC on December 4, according to the Wall Street Journal. Now the Commision must either clear or block the deal by January 27 (though that deadline may be pushed back yet again, the Journal notes).

Microsoft obviously competes with MySQL and Oracle. But Microsoft also partners with both players, too. So its opposition to the merger shouldn't be solely based on the fact that it wants to weaken potential rival(s). IBM seemingly is in favor of the Oracle/Sun merger, even though IBM also is in the database market, with IBM officials claiming that IBM never sees MySQL when customers are evaluating DB2.

My biggest question is why is Microsoft trying to throw a monkey wrench into the Oracle/Sun deal -- besides the likely reason of payback. Oracle is regularly among the list of companies pushing antitrust regulators here and abroad to sock it to the Redmondians whenever Microsoft is in the antitrust hot seat itself. But is Microsoft's disdain for the deal also because MySQL is more of a threat to SQL Server (and Microsoft partners that sell it) than Microsoft's management is willing to publicly acknowledge?

Thoughts?

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