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EU Ct. of 1st Instance: Microsoft Abused its Dominant Position - Updated
Monday, September 17 2007 @ 05:37 AM EDT

The European Court of First Instance has upheld the commission's decision [PDF] finding that Microsoft abused its dominant position. It did this by refusal to supply and authorize the use of interoperability information and tying of the Windows client PC operating system and Windows Media Player. The EU Commission's reaction is here, including this statement from Neelie Kroes:
Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes stated: “The Court has upheld a landmark Commission decision to give consumers more choice in software markets. That decision set an important precedent in terms of the obligations of dominant companies to allow competition, in particular in high tech industries. The Court ruling shows that the Commission was right to take its decision. Microsoft must now comply fully with its legal obligations to desist from engaging in anti-competitive conduct. The Commission will do its utmost to ensure that Microsoft complies swiftly."

A joint statement from FSF Europe and Samba here. "A triumph for freedom of choice and competition".

Thomas Vinje, Legal Counsel for ECIS, the European Committee for Interoperable Systems, gave this reaction: "This is a great day for European businesses and consumers. At long last, this decision opens the prospect for dynamic competition in the software industry. No more user lock-in, no more monopoly pricing."

Our own Sean Daly was there for the announcement and he got an exclusive statement [Ogg; MP3] from Mr. Vinje, who says he does expect Microsoft will likely appeal, as well as first reactions [Ogg; MP3] outside the courthouse from Volker Lendecke (Samba), Georg Greve (FSFE), and Jeremy Allison (Samba), who are clearly ecstatic. Greve calls it a screaming victory.

Sean reports:

The courtroom was subdued before the reading of the judgment summary, with lawyers, photographers, and press milling about; hardly an empty seat. Each lawyer wore the traditional garb of his country. Although everyone seemed relaxed, they were clearly expectant, watching the clock over the doors to the judges' chambers. At 9:29 AM, the room fell silent, flashbulbs stopped flashing, and everyone sat down. A couple of lawyers looked at their watches, as if to check the clock. A loud tone sounded, and the chamber doors were thrown open with a shout. All rose. Judge Bo Vesterdorf, on his last day at the Court, preceded his 12 colleagues who entered the courtroom in measured procession and took their seats. Judge Vesterdorf began speaking in a low, level voice, reciting the names of the parties in the litigation and enumerating the summary points of the ruling. No one said a word as they listened intently. Six minutes later it was over: the European Commission's positions were upheld save for the organization of the Monitoring Trustee, with Microsoft and its allies to bear nearly all legal costs and with the EC fines maintained. At the exit, a press release and hardcopy of the full judgement (248 pages!) were handed out. There were smiles and laughter from the FSFE and Samba people. Thomas Vinje, the lead lawyer for ECIS, made a statement before the cameras. The Microsoft representatives disappeared without comment.

You can find the Judgment here. You need Javascript turned on. The fines were upheld too. And Microsoft was ordered to pay the costs of SIIA, FSFE, Audiobanner.com and ECIS, including those relating to the interim proceedings. So Microsoft pays FSF Europe. Did you ever think you'd see *that* day? Microsoft has two months to appeal, but the appeal is limited to points of law only. There will be a Microsoft press conference, webcast live, at 2:30 PM CET, with Brad Smith in Brussels. Details here. The Rules of Procedure for the Court of First Instance are here [PDF] and you can find the statutes and treaties the Court of First Instance is guided by here.

Update: Microsoft's Brad Smith has now spoken. No immediate appeal, as they are still reading and analyzing the order. You can read it or view it here if you can use their proprietary format. And here's the reaction from Red Hat, on VNUnet:

"Red Hat would like to congratulate the Commission, and particularly Neelie Kroes and her services, for their persistence and courage in bringing this matter to a successful result," said Matthew Szulik, chairman of Red Hat.

"The Court has confirmed that competition law prevents a monopolist from simply using its control of the market to lock in customers and stifle new competitors.

"In our business, interoperability information is critically important and cannot simply be withheld to exclude all competition."

And Neelie Kroes, the European commissioner for Competition Policy, held a press conference, which you can read about on eWeek, and she said this:

"The court has confirmed that Microsoft cannot regulate the market by imposing its products and services on people," Kroes said. "The court has confirmed that Microsoft can no longer prevent the market from functioning properly and that computer users are therefore entitled to benefit from choice, more innovative products and more competitive prices....

"You may hear scare stories about the supposed negative consequences of this ruling for other companies and other innovation on the market," she said. "Recent years have certainly seen innovation in high technology markets—but largely in areas that Microsoft does not control."



With regard to interoperability, here is the ordered remedy by the EU Commission that was upheld:
48 By way of remedy for the abusive refusal referred to in Article 2(a) of the contested decision, Article 5 of that decision provides as follows:
(a) Microsoft … shall, within 120 days of the date of notification of [the contested decision], make the interoperability information available to any undertaking having an interest in developing and distributing work group server operating system products and shall, on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, allow the use of the interoperability information by such undertakings for the purpose of developing and distributing work group server operating system products;

(b) Microsoft … shall ensure that the interoperability information made available is kept updated on an ongoing basis and in a timely manner;

(c) Microsoft … shall, within 120 days of the date of notification of [the contested decision], set up an evaluation mechanism that will give interested undertakings a workable possibility of informing themselves about the scope and terms of use of the interoperability information; as regards this evaluation mechanism, Microsoft … may impose reasonable and non-discriminatory conditions to ensure that access to the interoperability information is granted for evaluation purposes only;

In its press release, the Court of First Instance said this:

First, the Court confirms that the necessary degree of interoperability required by the Commission is well founded and that there is no inconsistency between that degree of interoperability and the remedy imposed by the Commission....

As regards the refusal to supply the interoperability information, the Court recalls that, according to the case-law, although undertakings are, as a rule, free to choose their business partners, in certain circumstances a refusal to supply on the part of a dominant undertaking may constitute an abuse of a dominant position. Before a refusal by the holder of an intellectual property right to license a third party to use a product can be characterized as an abuse of a dominant position, three conditions must be satisfied: the refusal must relate to a product or service indispensable to the exercise of an activity on a neighbouring market; and the refusal must prevent the appearance of a new product for which there is potential consumer demand. Provided that such circumstances are satisfied, the refusal to grant a license may constitute an abuse of a dominant position unless it is objectively justified.

In the present case, the Court finds that the Commission did not err in considering that those conditions were indeed satisfied.

The Court considers that the Commission was correct to conclude that the work group server operating system of Microsoft's competitors must be able to interoperate with Windows domain architecture on an equal footing with Windows operating system if they are to be capable of being marketed viably.

The absence of such interoperability has the effect of reinforcing Microsoft's competitive position on the market and creates a risk that competition will be eliminated....

Lastly, the Court rejects Microsoft's arguments to the effect that the refusal is objectively justified because the technology concerned is covered by intellectual property rights. The Court notes that such justification would render ineffective the principles established in the case-law which are referred to above. The Court further considers that Microsoft has failed to show that if it were required to disclose the interoperability information that would have a significant negative effect on its incentives to innovate.

The Court therefore upholds the part of the decision concerning interoperability.

So, I guess Novell's partnership with Microsoft isn't such a great leg up after all. Everyone gets to interoperate and without having to agree to Microsoft's terms. It's a new day.

The only part of the ruling that will give Microsoft comfort was the court annulling certain parts of the decision relating to the appointment of a monitoring trustee, which have no legal basis in Community law.

THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE (Grand Chamber) hereby: 1. Annuls Article 7 of Commission Decision 2007/53/EC of 24 March 2004 relating to a proceeding pursuant to Article 82 [EC] and Article 54 of the EEA Agreement against Microsoft Corp. (Case COMP/C-3/37.792 – Microsoft), in so far as:

  • it orders Microsoft to submit a proposal for the establishment of a mechanism which is to include a monitoring trustee with the power to have access, independently of the Commission, to Microsoft’s assistance, information, documents, premises and employees and to the source code of the relevant Microsoft products;
  • it requires that the proposal for the establishment of that mechanism provide that all the costs associated with the appointment of the monitoring trustee, including his remuneration, be borne by Microsoft; and
  • it reserves to the Commission the right to impose by way of decision a mechanism such as that referred to in the first and second indents above;
2. Dismisses the remainder of the application; ....

Here is the part about Linux and interoperability:

34 Linux is an ‘open source’ operating system released under the ‘GNU GPL (General Public Licence)’. Strictly speaking, it is only a code base, called the ‘kernel’, which performs a limited number of services specific to an operating system. It may, however, be linked to other layers of software to form a ‘Linux operating system’ (recital 87 to the contested decision). Linux is used in particular as the basis for work group server operating systems (recital 101 to the contested decision) and is thus present on the work group server operating systems market in conjunction with Samba software, which is also released under the ‘GNU GPL’ licence (recitals 506 and 598 to the contested decision)....

III – Abuse of a dominant position

A – Refusal to supply and authorise the use of interoperability information

36 The first abusive conduct in which Microsoft is found to have engaged consists in its refusal to supply its competitors with ‘interoperability information’ and to authorise the use of that information for the purpose of developing and distributing products competing with Microsoft’s own products on the work group server operating systems market, between October 1998 and the date of notification of the contested decision (Article 2(a) of the contested decision). That conduct is described at recitals 546 to 791 to the contested decision.

37 For the purposes of the contested decision, ‘interoperability information’ is the ‘complete and accurate specifications for all the protocols [implemented] in Windows work group server operating systems and … used by Windows work group servers to deliver file and print services and group and user administrative services, including the Windows domain controller services, Active Directory services and “group Policy” services to Windows work group networks’ (Article 1(1) of the contested decision).

38 ‘Windows work group network’ is defined as ‘any group of Windows client PCs and Windows work group servers linked together via a computer network’ (Article 1(7) of the contested decision).

39 A ‘protocol’ is defined as ‘a set of rules of interconnection and interaction between various instances of Windows work group server operating systems and Windows client PC operating systems running on different computers in a Windows work group network’ (Article 1(2) of the contested decision).

40 In the contested decision, the Commission emphasises that the refusal in question does not relate to Microsoft’s ‘source code’, but only to specifications of the protocols concerned, that is to say, to a detailed description of what the software in question must achieve, in contrast to the implementations, consisting in the implementation of the code on the computer (recitals 24 and 569 to the contested decision). It states, in particular, that it ‘does not contemplate ordering Microsoft to allow copying of Windows by third parties’ (recital 572 to the contested decision).

41 The Commission further considers that Microsoft’s refusal to Sun is part of a general pattern of conduct (recitals 573 to 577 to the contested decision). It also asserts that Microsoft’s conduct involves a disruption of previous, higher levels of supply (recitals 578 to 584 to the contested decision), causes a risk of elimination of competition on the work group server operating systems (recitals 585 to 692 to the contested decision) and has a negative effect on technical development and on consumer welfare (recitals 693 to 708 to the contested decision).

42 Last, the Commission rejects Microsoft’s arguments that its refusal is objectively justified (recitals 709 to 778 to the contested decision).

The discussion then focuses on how to define interoperability:

228 In the second place, the Court observes that the Commission assessed the degree of interoperability by reference to what, in its view, was necessary in order to enable developers of non-Microsoft work group server operating systems to remain viably on the market (see, in particular, footnote 712 and recital 779 to the contested decision).

229 The correctness of that approach is not open to dispute. Article 82 EC deals with the conduct of one or more economic operators involving the abuse of a position of economic strength which enables the operator concerned to hinder the maintenance of effective competition on the relevant market by allowing it to behave to an appreciable extent independently of its competitors, its customers and, ultimately, consumers (Joined Cases C‑359/96 P and C‑396/96 P Compagnie maritime belge transports and Others v Commission [2000] ECR I‑1365, paragraph 34). Furthermore, whilst the finding of a dominant position does not in itself imply any criticism of the undertaking concerned, that undertaking has a special responsibility, irrespective of the causes of that position, not to allow its conduct to impair genuine undistorted competition on the common market (Case 322/81 Michelin v Commission [1983] ECR 3461, paragraph 57, and Case T‑228/97 Irish Sugar v Commission [1999] ECR II‑2969, paragraph 112). Should it be established in the present case that the existing degree of interoperability does not enable developers of non-Microsoft work group server operating systems to remain viably on the market for those operating systems, it follows that the maintenance of effective competition on that market is being hindered.

230 It follows from the contested decision that, by adopting that approach and taking as its basis a factual and technical analysis of the products and technologies concerned and also of the way in which interoperability is achieved in Windows work group networks, the Commission concluded that, in order to be capable of competing viably with Windows work group server operating systems, competing operating systems had to be able to interoperate with Windows domain architecture on an equal footing with Windows work group server operating systems (see to that effect, in particular, recitals 182 and 282 to the contested decision).

231 The interoperability thus required by the Commission has two indissociable components, namely client/server interoperability and server/server interoperability (recitals 177 to 182 and 689 to the contested decision).

232 The Commission also maintains that when a non-Microsoft work group server operating system is installed on a Windows work group server network, it must be capable not only of delivering all its functionalities to Windows client PCs but also of using all the functionalities offered by those client PCs.

233 In the light of those various factors, the Commission maintains, in particular, that a server running a non-Microsoft work group server operating system must be capable of acting as a domain controller, and not merely as a member server, within a Windows domain using Active Directory and, accordingly, be capable of participating in the multimaster replication mechanism with the other domain controllers.

234 The Court finds that, contrary to Microsoft’s claim, it cannot be inferred from the degree of interoperability thus required by the Commission that the Commission intends in reality that non-Microsoft server operating systems must function in every respect like a Windows server operating system and, accordingly, that Microsoft’s competitors must be in a position to ‘clone’ or ‘reproduce’ its products or certain features of those products.

235 The assertions thus made by Microsoft are founded on a misreading of the contested decision.

236 The Court observes, in that regard, that, according to recital 1003 to the contested decision, the objective of the decision is to ‘ensure that Microsoft’s competitors can develop products that interoperate with the Windows domain architecture natively supported in the dominant Windows client PC operating system and hence viably compete with Microsoft’s work group server operating system’.

237 As the Commission explained in greater detail at the hearing, the attainment of that objective assumes that non-Microsoft work group server operating systems are capable of receiving a specific message from a Windows client PC or work group server operating system and giving the required response to that message on the same conditions as a Windows work group server operating system and also of enabling Windows client PC or work group server operating systems to react to that response just as though it came from a Windows work group server operating system.

238 In order for such operations to be practicable, it is not necessary that non-Microsoft work group server operating systems should function internally in exactly the same way as Windows work group server operating systems.

239 Those various considerations are not vitiated by the passages from recitals 669 and 679 to the contested decision cited by Microsoft (see paragraph 126 above). In the first passage, the Commission merely states that the degree of interoperability with the Windows domain architecture that may be achieved by non-Microsoft work group server operating systems using standard protocols is lower than that achieved by Windows work group server operating systems. In the second passage, the Commission states only that non-Microsoft work group server operating systems are capable of using the functionalities of Windows client PC and work group server operating systems only to a lesser degree than Windows work group server operating systems.

240 In the same way Microsoft’s assertion that the contested decision intends that its competitors should develop exactly the same products as Windows work group server operating systems must be rejected. As the Court will explain in greater detail at paragraphs 653 to 658 below, in its examination of the circumstance relating to the appearance of a new product, the aim pursued by the Commission is to remove the obstacle for Microsoft’s competitors represented by the insufficient degree of interoperability with the Windows domain architecture, in order to enable those competitors to offer work group server operating systems which differ from Microsoft’s on important parameters such as, in particular, security, reliability, processing speed or the innovative nature of certain functionalities.

241 The Court also notes that, as Microsoft itself expressly acknowledges in its written submissions (see, for example, paragraphs 14 and 48 of the reply), its competitors will not be in a position to develop products which are ‘clones’ or reproductions of Windows work group server operating systems by having access to the interoperability information at which the contested decision is aimed. As stated at paragraphs 192 to 206 above, that information does not relate to Microsoft’s source code. In particular, Article 5 of the contested decision does not require Microsoft to disclose implementation details to its competitors.

242 Furthermore, as will also be explained in greater detail at paragraph 658 below, when the Court examines the circumstance relating to the new product, Microsoft’s competitors would have no interest in developing exactly the same work group server operating systems as Microsoft’s.

243 Nor can the Court accept Microsoft’s claim that it follows from the undertakings’ statements which it produced during the administrative procedure that there is already a high degree of interoperability between Windows client PC and server operating systems and non-Microsoft server operating systems, owing to the use of methods already available on the market.

So, Novell chose to ride the wrong pony. And I think the MSOOXML process will be directly impacted by this decision as well. The Wall St. Journal reminds us that there is another antitrust matter before the EU Commission yet to be decided:

In Europe, the Microsoft result could embolden regulators to pursue the software giant further. There is an outstanding investigation of a separate complaint involving Microsoft's dominant Office productivity software. In that case, a group backed by companies including International Business Machines Corp. alleges that Microsoft shut rivals out of the market with its tight control over the file formats used by Word, Excel and PowerPoint to encode documents.

Ken Wasch, President of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), issued the following statement: "Today's judgment by the European appeals court is a victory for innovators and consumers everywhere. With this action, the only option left for Microsoft is to immediately cooperate and fulfill the requirements of the March 2004 Decision."

The joint statement from Samba and FSFE:

*********************************************

"Microsoft can consider itself above the law no longer," says Georg Greve, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE).

"Through tactics that successfully derailed antitrust processes in other parts of the world, including the United States, Microsoft has managed to postpone this day for almost a decade. But thanks to the perseverance and excellent work of the European Commission, these tactics have now failed in Europe," Greve continues.

Carlo Piana, FSFE's legal counsel: "FSFE and the Samba Team welcome the decision of the court. This is a milestone for competition. It puts an end to the notion that deliberate obfuscation of standards and designed lock-in is an acceptable business model and forces Microsoft back into competing on the grounds of software technology."

"The Samba Team would like to thank the European Commission for its outstanding job over the past years. Millions of users around the world will reap the rewards of their work," comments Jeremy Allison, co-author of the Samba project. "This is a very important day for the Samba Team: we hope to finally compete on a level playing field, without being denied access to interoperability information. Samba would then be able to offer consumers real choice, with the benefits of software freedom."

Volker Lendecke of the Samba Team: "Now that the court has decided, we will be watching closely what the exact licensing terms for the interoperability information are. It will be very important to make sure that the information is usable in Free Software, otherwise the great success the Commission has achieved here is severely harmed. Samba is one of the most important players in the workgroup server market, the market in which the comission wanted to restore competition."

"This is a very good day for Europe, but it is only a step along the way. The recurrent theme for Microsoft's behaviour over the past years is an apparent perception of interoperability as a threat to overcome," summarises FSFE counsel Carlo Piana. "The most recent example was provided by MS-OOXML, which Doug Mahugh of Microsoft described as a commercially motivated response to the threat provided by the ODF ISO standard and the interoperability and choice it offers. Tactical, not technical considerations were the driving force behind Microsoft's global efforts to manipulate national standardisation bodies into blind acceptance of MS-OOXML."

FSFE president Greve concludes: "Today's decision has set a very important precedent for the future. Secret manipulation of open formats and protocols has clearly been marked as unacceptable conduct. We now encourage the European Commission take up the recent antitrust complaint brought forward by ECIS. In a joint effort with the Samba Team and OpenOffice.org, the FSFE gladly offers its expertise to the European Commission for that investigation."

On the bundling issue, Erik Simon, President of VideoBanner, one of the four Interveners in support of the European Antitrust Commission, released the following statement regarding today’s decision in the Microsoft Antitrust case:

Today’s decision is significant in that it starts to restrain Microsoft’s use of bundling, which has been one of their central tactics for market expansion. This has implications not only for the video streaming industry, but potentially, for other industries as well.

VideoBanner hopes the Court’s ruling initiates a process of restoring competition to the video steaming market. Nonetheless, additional steps may still be required to ensure that today’s ruling has the teeth necessary to be fully effective.

The real news is that a legal precedent has now been established to prevent Microsoft from leveraging their operating system monopoly in order to dominate the video streaming industry – and potentially, other markets as well. In that sense, today’s ruling is not an end but rather the start of an ongoing business and legal process to protect competition by preventing Microsoft from bundling its way into various markets.

The New York Times' Steve Lohr addresses why the bundling issue matters:

"This is sort of a license to go after Windows' tying of secondary products," said Herbert Hovenkamp, a leading antitrust scholar at the University of Iowa College of Law. "We haven’t heard the last of the legal challenges to Microsoft’s bundling practices by any means."

So when Microsoft wants to put handwriting and speech recognition features or stronger anti-virus and other security software into the Windows operating system, competitors can complain to European authorities...

"It's clear why Microsoft needs to add functionality, and that's fine if Microsoft is the innovator and comes out with new features and adds them to its operating system," said Michael A. Cusumano, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management. "But when Microsoft is the second or third-mover in a market, as they were with the browser and the media player, I think the bundling is a problem."

I think that means Microsoft now will have to actually start to innovate.


  


EU Ct. of 1st Instance: Microsoft Abused its Dominant Position - Updated | 264 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Here
Authored by: Zyphyr on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 05:53 AM EDT
Correction in the title please...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic
Authored by: Zyphyr on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 05:55 AM EDT
Remember to use HTML to make your links clicky.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Great. What is the appeal process?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 06:14 AM EDT
Great Day for Justice, finally.

Can someone knowledgeable about the 'European Court of Justice' process tell us
what the appeal PROCESS that will be followed if there is an appeal?
Particularly, does the ECoJ accept/reject cases based on merit, like the US
Supreme Court does, or does it take all cases?

Thank you, EC, Thank you, European Court of First Instance.

-srr

[ Reply to This | # ]

EU Ct. of 1st Instance: Microsoft Abused its Dominant Position
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 06:17 AM EDT
1st Instance ? Does this means that this is all up for reconsideration by 2nd
instance ? What options to M$ have to challenge this further?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft "spin" already up and running
Authored by: stephen_A on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 06:19 AM EDT
According to The Register the Microsoft spin machine has gone into overdrive already:

CompTIA anti-trust counsel Lars Liebler said: "Today's decision by the Court of First Instance represents a significant blow to free enterprise in Europe....

..."The court's decision to uphold the commission's order requiring Microsoft to disclose its valuable intellectual property continues the unfortunate trend within the EU to undermine intellectual property rights. "Despite evidence offered in court that Microsoft's server communications protocols are innovative and resulted in substantially improved performance of Microsoft's server software, the commission required Microsoft to share these inventions with its competitors."

ACT president Jonathan Zuck said in a first reaction to the judgment: "The commission just got a treat from the court, but SMEs and consumers will actually foot the bill. Microsoft did not win today, but it is European software developers and consumers that really lost. While there still may be a silver lining, it will take several hours and days to get a true assessment of the implications for SMEs. The court does seem to acknowledge the need for Microsoft to protect its intellectual property."

[ Reply to This | # ]

3... 2...1... appeal
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 06:23 AM EDT
And there's another layer of court for them to go to after this. This decision
is just one step in the process, not the end of it. :(

[ Reply to This | # ]

Invitation to guard itself?
Authored by: Totosplatz on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 06:29 AM EDT

No doubt Microsoft can think of some excellent candidates for the job:

it orders Microsoft to submit a proposal for the establishment of a mechanism which is to include a monitoring trustee with the power to have access, independently of the Commission, to Microsoft’s assistance, information, documents, premises and employees and to the source code of the relevant Microsoft products;
- perhaps Steve Ballmer?

It's easy to imagine that Microsoft can continue to drag this out into the next century by pretending to be trying really hard to satisfy all those who demand its private documentation. Why, it might be able to drag out even the creation of the mechanism for a decade or more. They are expert at that kind of slow dance.

---
All the best to one and all.

[ Reply to This | # ]

    Some interesting points ...
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 06:41 AM EDT
    Some interesting points from the media summary version of the court:

    Protocols/Interoperability:

    " As to the question of the intellectual property rights covering the communication protocols or the specifications, the Court considers that there is no need to adjudicate on that question in order to determine the case. It observes that in adopting the decision the Commission proceeded on the presumption that Microsoft could rely on such rights or, in other words, it considered that it was possible that the refusal at issue was a refusal to grant a licence to a third parties, thus opting for the solution which, according to the case-law, was the most favourable to Microsoft.

    As regards the refusal to supply the interoperability information, the Court recalls that, according to the case-law, although undertakings are, as a rule, free to choose their business partners, in certain circumstances a refusal to supply on the part of a dominant undertaking may constitute an abuse of a dominant position. Before a refusal by the holder of an intellectual property right to license a third party to use a product can be characterised as an abuse of a dominant position, three conditions must be satisfied: the refusal must relate to a product or service indispensable to the exercise of an activity on a neighbouring market; the refusal must be of such a kind as to exclude any effective competition on that market; and the refusal must prevent the appearance of a new product for which there is potential consumer demand. Provided that such circumstances are satisfied, the refusal to grant a licence may constitute an abuse of a dominant position unless it is objectively justified."

    So IP or no IP, those protocols must be disclosed for interoperability (and the MS argument that someone with clone their product is not found to hold water).

    Bundling of Media Player:

    " ... the Court finds that Microsoft has not demonstrated the existence of objective justification for the bundling and that the remedy imposed by the Commission is proportionate. On that point, the Court makes clear that Microsoft retains the right to continue to offer the version of Windows bundled with Windows Media Player and that it is required only to make it possible for consumers to obtain the operating system without that media player, a measure which does not mean any change in Microsoft's current technical practice other than the development of that version of Windows."

    As long as there is a version of OS without bundled media player, MS can satisfy this requirement. (They already sell one like that, except with "anti-marketing" messages as opposed to "marketing" messages).

    On the monitoring trustee:

    "The Court finds that the Commission has no authority to compel Microsoft to grant to a monitoring trustee powers which the Commission itself is not authorised to confer on a third party."

    So MS can ditch the monitoring trustee. The fines are fully upheld (Euro 497M).

    _srr

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    ...on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms...
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 06:52 AM EDT
    What does this actually mean?

    Does it mean that the samba team must pay MS for interoperability, in which case
    in would undermine the whole open-source principle of Samba. I didn't see any
    notion that interoperability was required for open-source software too.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    MS Exchange?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 06:55 AM EDT
    Is this decision of any help to FLOSS projects working
    with Exchange or other cash cows, or does it just
    address CIFS?
    Is there now another cloud over the under-documented OOXML
    format?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • MS Exchange? - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 04:26 PM EDT
    Suppose M$ Refuses?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 07:04 AM EDT
    Suppose for the sake of argument that microsoft refuses to comply with the EU
    Court order. Since ms is headquartered in the USA, what can the EU do to
    enforce it? Kick ms out of Europe? Since so many computers run ms software,
    wouldn't that be like cutting off your nose to spite your face? Of course they
    could issue bench warrants for Gates, Ballmer, et al., but as long as theose
    people avoid travelling to Europe the warrants can't be served. I am obviously
    SO not a lawyer, so I am wondering what the EU's enforcement options really are?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    But will this make any difference?
    Authored by: The Mad Hatter r on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 07:08 AM EDT

    Seriously. Here we have a company that has continually broke the law both on
    every continent. Do we think that this court upholding an earlier conviction is
    really going to have any effect on them?

    The company has money. Money to hire more lawyers, money to pay fines, money
    that they have shown in the past that they are not afraid to spend if it allows
    them to continue their criminal enterprises. And they are used to operating this
    way!

    The court ruling was significant. However until and unless the court suspends
    the sales/delivery of Windows operating systems in the EU it may not have any
    effect on the actions of Microsoft.


    ---
    Wayne

    http://sourceforge.net/projects/twgs-toolkit/

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    EU Ct. of 1st Instance: Microsoft Abused its Dominant Position
    Authored by: Nomen Publicus on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 07:17 AM EDT
    After only a very quick glance, this judgement seems very similar to the one obtained by Amdahl against IBM some years ago. In that, the interoperability was more about hardware than software but the result was IBM had to publish their interface standards.

    The judgement resulted in a huge change of culture within IBM and an opening up of the market for Amdahl and many other computer companies to compete on a level playing field.

    IBM wasn't noticably hurt by the judgement as the entire market grew rather than IBM losing business.

    ---
    If you love some code, set it free.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Interoperability and fonts
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 07:30 AM EDT
    I just say the following recent announcement from a font project to make free fonts. They are doing an extra step of working around some undocumented font tables,

    (Our testing shows that the STIX Fonts cannot be used in place of [Microsoft] Cambria Math within Word 2007 unless these (undocumented) tables are in place.) It would be useful to hear from any of you who need this support. Our revised target for release is now the end of September.

    Source: Stixfonts

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    EU Ct. of 1st Instance: Microsoft Abused its Dominant Position
    Authored by: kevinRayT on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 08:33 AM EDT
    I am impressed - Groklaw beat CNN Money out with the excellent news!!

    Now the hard work of ensuring Microsoft follows the judgement begins.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Corporate Media And European Anti-Trust Trial
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 08:52 AM EDT
    Corporate Media And European Anti-Trust Trial

    Yet again we have a decision publicly going against Microsoft.
    Once again, we will get the Corporate Media (including sites like
    The Register, Linux Today - internetnews.com, Slashdot)
    spreading the Press Releases from Microsoft in reaction to this
    decision, and from the past, as if it were news: and not blatant
    propaganda against the decision. Once again we will see the
    effect of the power of the advertisers and financial backers (of
    which Microsoft is one of the largest) on these Corporate Media in
    the Software industry, who cannot survive without them. Once
    again, we will get the Trolls, who appear on Groklaw whenever
    such decisions are announced, who live off the propaganda of the
    aforementioned Corporate Media; bringing up Strawman
    Arguments to obfuscate the truth. Once again these Trolls will
    confuse the issue with a lot of handwaving. Already we have a
    redundant quote from Microsoft, reported in The Register, added to
    this debate.

    Nevertheless, once again we will get Groklaw linking to these
    Corporate Media. Indeed it has already linked to the coverage of
    this news by the BBC, which is a de facto member of the Corporate
    Media, despite its false, "balanced", neutral, license-fee funded,
    "no advertising", public image. Since it relies on the services from
    private corporations (including Microsoft), and free sponsorship of
    corporate events, through its coverage of those events. Once
    again we will get Groklaw undermining its own efforts to expose
    the truth about the corruption in the Software industry, through the
    coverage of cases of litigation and other legal issues.

    Recently, Groklaw wrote an article entitled "The Media On SCO
    Bankruptcy", to examine the Corporate Media's reaction to the
    news of SCO filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. And it listed several
    articles from the Media, to show the ones who gave a true and
    false picture of strength of SCO's legal case, before and after this
    news. And for the ones who gave a false picture, it tried to highlight
    and expose how wrong these pictures were.

    But the implicit message of all this was completely lost on the
    majority of readers of Groklaw, as is plainly evident by the
    responses to that article. With a few notable exceptions, none of
    the readers understood the insidious propaganda which the
    Corporate Media were spreading on SCO's behalf. None
    understood the insidious effects of the Corporate Media, not only
    in the case of SCO, but daily, in other matters relating to
    corporations, especially powerful corporations in the Software
    industry: such as Microsoft. None understood that without the
    Corporate Media, Microsoft would not have achieved and
    maintained its dominant position. Instead, they continued to pick
    on the details of the Bankruptcy itself, and what it meant for the
    future of SCO's cases.

    Although Groklaw may feel that, by carefully selecting articles out
    of the Media, by qualifying these articles with little notes in
    parenthesis, they can mitigate the insidious effects of linking to
    Corporate Media's Web-Sites. The incredulity of the response to
    the Media, in the case of SCO, shows that exercise to be
    self-evidently futile. And that the proper solution is to cut off all
    links to the Corporate Media.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Misreading court decisions
    Authored by: bstone on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 08:54 AM EDT
    235 The assertions thus made by Microsoft are founded on a misreading of the contested decision.
    There seems to be a lot of that going around in companies we discuss here.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Current level of fines is just an operating expense
    Authored by: hga on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 09:23 AM EDT

    From their current guidance (http://www.microsoft.com/msft/earnings/FY07/earn_rel_q4_07.mspx) for the quarter ending in Sept. 30:

    Business Outlook

    Microsoft management offers the following guidance for the quarter ending September 30, 2007:

    *

    Revenue is expected to be in the range of $12.4 billion to $12.6 billion.

    *

    Operating income is expected to be in the range of $5.0 billion to $5.2 billion.

    Going from revenue to income or earnings is not an exact thing, so let's use revenue and operating income as a start, I'll average their estimates, all figure in US$ till the end, billion is US thousand million:

    12.5 billion revenue for this quarter is 4.1 for a month, or 3.0 billion EUR.

    5.1 billion in operating income for this quarter is 1.7 for a month, or 1.2 billion EUR.

    The current fine on the table is 500 million EUR, or less than half a month's operating income. A bit more than pocket change, but something they can pay without a second's thought.

    The Commission is going to have to drastically increase their fines if they want to get Microsoft's attention, perhaps by nothing less than a factor of ten. Right now the level of pain is just an operating expense.

    A continued contempt for the Commission's orders provides a basis for that, but the fines required will be unprecedented, and that alone may give Microsoft an opening. Certainly this drama will continue to drag out for years if not decades unless the Commission severely ratchets up the fines.

    The effect on Microsoft of Europe affirming it to be a abusive monopolist (in US terms (monopolies per se are OK in the US, using one abusively to the harm of consumers (not competitors) is not)) will mean nothing in the US, maybe it'll have an effect in Europe....

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    I can't resist...
    Authored by: itchytweed on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 09:56 AM EDT
    Some pundits are saying that a recession is coming to the US. Office furniture
    manufacturers will probably not see a downturn, but an upturn, with the majority
    of their trucks destined for Redmond....loaded with chairs...

    ;-)

    -- Itchytweed

    P.S.: I am honestly glad that the Court of First Instance has backbone and a
    stiff upper lip. Congrats to them and thank you.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    rand?
    Authored by: sumzero on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 10:12 AM EDT
    haven't ms used rand terms before to prevent use by gpled software? rand seems
    to leave a lot of room for abuse.

    it was previously found that there is nothing innovative or of significant value
    in the interface info despite ms saying otherwise and attempting to charge a
    truckload of cash. why isn't the demand for a free or costs-covered-only release
    of this info?

    sum.zero

    ---
    48. The best book on programming for the layman is "alice in wonderland"; but
    that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.

    alan j perlis

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    $1,079,861,111 for ~7 years foot-dragging?
    Authored by: TJ on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 10:25 AM EDT

    Will Microsoft think it was worth it, $423,807 a day?

    The original fine in 2004 was €497m, plus €280.5m imposed in July 2006 for failing to comply. €777.5 million at current exchange rate ($1=€0.72) is $1.079 billion

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Novell picked a good pony, PJ
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 11:41 AM EDT
    You keep forgetting, Novell got what, $500 million out of Microsoft?

    that's a good thing!

    I wouldn't turn that down, no matter where the money came form.

    it's like the old saying, if the mob wants to give the money to orphans, let
    them! otherwise the government just gets it, and it doesn't help anyone.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    232 is a killer
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 12:28 PM EDT
    232 The Commission also maintains that when a non-Microsoft work group server operating system is installed on a Windows work group server network, it must be capable not only of delivering all its functionalities to Windows client PCs but also of using all the functionalities offered by those client PCs.


    Microsoft has hurt themselves by their bundling because now anything bundled on the client must be documented sufficiently for interoperability. While MediaPlayer might be exempt from this since they offer a version of Windows without it, it may still be in the loop since the majority of installations had it bundled. This would open up MS DRM significantly.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Free Video Alfonso Cuarón, director of Children of Men, and Naomi Klein
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 12:29 PM EDT
    Here's something for you to check out - it's an article and short film by
    Alfonso Cuarón, director of Children of Men, and Naomi Klein, author of No
    Logo.

    The short film/video explains how BIG CORPORATIONS (like M$) aided by
    GOVERNMENTS can SUDDENLY get all kinds of laws enacted. Laws that no one ever
    expected to get passed:

    http://www.harpers.org/archive/2007/09/hbc-90001181

    If you watch the short film, you'll see a hypothesis about Milton Friedman's
    (the architect of current economic and political policies in the USA and
    elsewhere that BIG CORPORATIONS love) ; who believes that BIG CORPORATIONS and
    GOVERNMENTS USE the SHOCK of any natural disaster (for example, Katrina, AIDS,
    9/11 and so on).

    How? First, Friedman advises that whenever a natural disaster occurs; make any
    natural even worse than it was "naturally". The SHOCK experienced by
    people through the actual natural disaster can be amplified/intensified by
    adding other government-made SHOCKS at the same time (like putting people into a
    sports dome with no food, water or protection against rape etc. or don't fund a
    recovery after Katrina).

    Secondly, while the populous is under the DOUBLE SHOCK; then bring in all kinds
    of laws that could never be enacted under "normal times" (Patriot Act
    etc.)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    All in one phrase!!!
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 12:41 PM EDT
    The Court further considers that Microsoft has failed to show that if it were required to disclose the interoperability information that would have a significant negative effect on its incentives to innovate.

    Couldn't be said better!! Sometime you got to love the judges!!!

    The "negative effect on its incentives to innovate" kills completely all the M$ arguments that they are to lose something. The argument would of course not fly on US court - where copyrights/patents/etc are infallible paramount.

    M$ is of course to lose core part of its business: dominant market position. DOJ bent to M$. EU simply shrugged and pointed to "incentives to innovate".

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    This ruling sets a dangerous precedent that says Europe is closed for business...
    Authored by: TJ on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 03:28 PM EDT

    Accor ding to Forbes congressman David Reichert of Washington (Rep) is quoted as saying:

    "This ruling sets a dangerous precedent that says Europe is closed for business to those companies who invest the capital and resources necessary to lead a market,' he said. 'It sets a dangerous precedent for not only other high-tech companies, but any company that wishes to do business in Europe." Reichert also hinted at pursuing some form of legislation to address today's ruling, although he was not specific.

    Contrast that to his statements on the Net Neutrality issue he made in 2006 during a TV debate:

    "I also support net neutrality. [The Internet] should be an equal place where people to come, equal companies to come. It should be the choice of the people, when they Google, the biggest company doesn't come up, but the company that the people have chosen as the most important site pops up. That's why I supported, and voted for, net neutrality."

    I think we can guess who funds his campaigns.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    MS Innovation - EU Ct. of 1st Instance: Microsoft Abused its Dominant Position - Updated
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 03:40 PM EDT
    "I think that means Microsoft now will have to actually start to
    innovate."

    Microsoft's new innovative products:

    1. Built in Digital Rights Management, so content providers will know their
    valuable intellectual property is not prirated and all the old ladies in the
    world downloading new age music properly pay for it.

    2. Windows Genuine Advantage. If your software is still working you can be sure
    it is a legal copy.

    3. New content delivery tools such as Silverlight.

    4. New graphics encoding methods, because quite frankly the jpeg format is
    getting long in the tooth.

    5. Widows Live, where your documents are properly protected on Microsoft
    Servers.

    Microsoft products are my friend. If it is a Microsoft product, I know I can
    trust it.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    232 THIS IS THE BIG ONE - OMG
    Authored by: SilverWave on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 03:46 PM EDT
    Yes sorry for shouting but :)
    OMG this is groundbreaking!
    ______________________________________________________
    232 The Commission also maintains that when a non-Microsoft work group server
    operating system is installed on a Windows work group server network, it must be
    capable not only of delivering all its functionalities to Windows client PCs but
    also of using all the functionalities offered by those client PCs.
    ______________________________________________________

    ---
    "intellectual property" - a propaganda term designed to confuse patent law with
    copyright and other unrelated laws and to muddy the different issues they raise.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    US Politition denounces Europe
    Authored by: Chris Lingard on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 04:04 PM EDT

    Congressman Dave Reichert made the following statement today

    "I view this as a very unjust ruling," Reichert said. "This ruling sets a dangerous precedent that says Europe is closed for business to those companies who invest the capital and resources necessary to lead a market. It sets a dangerous precedent for not only other high-tech companies, but any company that wishes to do business in Europe. I offer whatever support I can as they move forward to make sure justice is done on behalf of Microsoft and other innovative and forward-thinking corporations in America.

    “I would urge successful companies that do business in Europe, as well as the many small partners who work with those companies, to ask themselves this key question: who will be the next Microsoft? Will Intel? Will Qualcomm? Will you? Have you built this new European tax on American innovation into your business model?”

    So apparently is OK for a convicted monopolist to abuse our market, and suppress all invention and creativity. But I wonder if he has considered his own constituents?

    Microsoft have never led the industry, instead they have acted as an anchor, dumbing stuff down. they generally copy from others, they were about third into the market with browsers and media players. But because of their dominent position we cannot choose better products without buying an inferior one first. This must be inflicted on his constituents, no choice, no competition, just pay your cash and shut up.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    “Sometimes The Good Guys Do Win!”
    Authored by: SilverWave on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 04:30 PM EDT
    First reactions [Ogg; MP3] outside the courthouse from Volker Lendecke (Samba),
    Georg Greve (FSFE), and Jeremy Allison (Samba), who are clearly ecstatic.

    Volker Lendecke (Samba): Its just a great result *whatever* :) have a party!
    Georg Greve (FSFE): A Screaming victory... I mean “Sometimes The Good Guys Do
    Win!”
    Jeremy Allison (Samba): Absolutely Stunning Victory Great!.

    ??: “Some of the best 6mins of our life”

    Jeremy Allison (Samba): I think we are going to get horrible drunk tonight –
    cheerful.

    ---
    :)
    Georg Greve (FSFE): A Screaming victory, I mean “Sometimes The Good Guys Do
    Win!”
    Volker Lendecke (Samba): Its just a great result *whatever* have a party!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    windows server 2003 functional level?
    Authored by: SilverWave on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 05:22 PM EDT
    Do we get the keys to the city?

    Will I beable to use a non-ms dc and set the domain to windows server 2003
    functional level?

    hmmm...

    http://www.petri.co.il/understanding_function_levels_in_windows_2003_ad.htm

    ---
    Georg Greve (FSFE):
    A Screaming victory, I mean “Sometimes The Good Guys Do Win!”

    Monday 17 Sept 2007 - STGGDW! ;-)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Client Access License
    Authored by: SilverWave on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 05:46 PM EDT
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Client_Access_License

    Oh boy... how does this affect the charge for CAL's in MS land?
    This more I look at this ruling the more ms's world changes...
    _______________________________________________________
    Client Access License
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    A Client Access License ("CAL") is a kind of software license,
    distributed by Microsoft, to allow clients to connect to its server software
    programs.
    Contents
    Licensing

    Most Microsoft software is licensed to end users or businesses and this allows
    the owner of the license to use the product specified in the license agreement,
    subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the license agreement.
    Microsoft usually have notices on the packaging of their products which state
    that using the software constitutes agreement of the license terms[citation
    needed]. Microsoft offers many types of licensing for a range of their products
    which are designed to be cost effective, flexible, or both (see Microsoft
    Licensing).

    Server software, such as Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server 2005 require
    licenses that are more expensive than those which are purchased for desktop
    software like Windows Vista. In recent versions[citation needed] of many of
    their products, Microsoft require that all clients that connect to these server
    applications have a license to connect to and use the services of that software.
    These licenses come in the form of a Client Access License.

    Client Access Licenses

    A Client Access License (CAL) is a kind of license that allows client machines
    to connect to Microsoft server software. They usually come in the form of a
    Certificate of Authenticity (CoA) and a license key, which may or may not be on
    the certificate itself. The various editions of Windows Server 2003 usually
    include a small number of CALs, and this allows either a few users or a few
    computers to connect to it at once (depending on the CAL licensing mode). If
    more simultaneous connections are needed, then additional CALs must be
    purchased.

    Some CALs are electronic: they are files[citation needed] that are imported into
    the software which will not service clients unless there are valid CALs
    installed. The software will authenticate and serve the number of clients
    licensed under the CALs. Once that number is met, the server can accept a small
    number of additional connections and then warn administrators before refusing to
    serve further connections, however usually it will simply refuse to authenticate
    additional clients until one or more of them disconnects. In this way, the
    server electronically enforces the Client Access licensing.

    The CALs that are purchased for some server software, such as SQL Server 2005,
    are paper only and are distributed for compliance to the software license
    agreement only[citation needed]. Technically, any individual or business can use
    the software with a million users and buy no CALs at all - but they will be in
    breach of the license agreement and very large penalties will apply if they are
    caught.
    _______________________________________________________



    ---
    Georg Greve (FSFE):
    A Screaming victory, I mean “Sometimes The Good Guys Do Win!”

    Monday 17 Sept 2007 - STGGDW! ;-)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Apple next?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 17 2007 @ 07:01 PM EDT
    No, because Apple has nowhere near the market dominance.
    But, as a Mac weenie from way back, I can see parallels here
    with the "embedding" of browsers and media players. OS-X
    is a real live BSD at heart, yet it is overlaid with an almost
    impenetrable shell of proprietary frameworks.

    Who knows how much of WebKit is not given back to the OSS
    community because it is needed to run Mail, iChat, Safari's hooks
    to AddressBook?

    The QuickTime system was originally developed on a public
    contract (ARPA?). You don't need Quicktime Player: VLC or
    MPlayer will work, but since they avoid all proprietary codecs
    they don't seem to perform so well. And without the tentacles of
    QuickTime throughout the system most of the iLife suite would
    be impossible.

    Those who think Apple is not a monopoly bully boy have not
    experienced their "International" marketing model, from hardware
    distribution channels thru to the iTunes Music Store. I see storm
    clouds gathering with iPod, iTunes, iPhone, XXAA, DRM, FTC, EU ...

    Steve is as cunning as Bill, and they were both taught by P.T.Barnum



    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • Apple next? - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 18 2007 @ 07:02 AM EDT
    • Apple next? - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 18 2007 @ 12:09 PM EDT
    • Apple next? - Authored by: davidf on Wednesday, September 19 2007 @ 08:22 PM EDT
    hope?
    Authored by: grouch on Tuesday, September 18 2007 @ 01:14 AM EDT
    Let's just hope that Europe is more successful at actually altering the behavior of the monopolist than the U.S. has been. One difference that leads to such hope is that the EC looked at the means used to bar competition and maintain customer lock-in while the U.S. DoJ concentrated on the products. The EC's remedy seeks to open the secret protocols. The U.S. remedy was truly bizarre - it focused on getting other companies to create software to run on MS Windows.

    On the other hand, it took 3 years just to grind through the first appeal process. By the time Europe gets around to compelling Microsoft to comply, Microsoft may be a media mogul and investment brokerage instead of a software company.

    ---
    -- grouch

    "People aren't as dumb as Microsoft needs them to be."
    --PJ, May 2007

    [ Reply to This | # ]

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