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EU Commission Announces Market Test of Microsoft Suggestions on Browser Choice, Interoperability - Updated
Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 11:15 AM EDT

The EU Commission and Microsoft have done a draft of a deal. Lunch, anyone? They will do market testing of the browser screen for a while, beginning on Friday. Here's what it will look like, according to Mary Jo Foley's report. And they have worked out a kind of draft solution on interoperability standards, which Microsoft has published on its website. Both solutions are working off of two suggestions Microsoft proposed itself.

Here's Microsoft's statement, glowing with happiness that their two proposals, with some changes suggested in the last month or so by the EU Commission, have basically been adopted, if the test works out. And here's Neelie Kroes' blog with her announcement:

Now the Commission has agreed to formally market test proposals made by Microsoft that, if adopted, would offer current and future users of Windows software in Europe a meaningful choice between Internet Explorer and its competitors.

Currently Windows users (most computer users) do not get an upfront choice because Microsoft ties Internet Explorer to the Windows PC operating system. Under the new proposal users would be offered 12 browser options on a ‘choice screen’ appearing on their computers. This is the sort of effective and unbiased choice we have been looking for, so today is another positive step towards this outcome.

Are they pre-installed? Or only IE and you get to install any alternative if you so choose? What do you think? You have to download them. We all know how much people love to do that. Not. OEMs can preinstall any browser as the default, but come on. What do you think they'll choose? What is the improvement? Letting people know there are choices, I guess. That's better than nothing. But I can download any browser I want already. This is an improvement in that IE can't reassert control as the default, unless you want it to.

Nice when you get to choose your own solutions. Here are the EU documents, the press release and the documents relevant to the case. Note what the press release says about interoperability:

In July 2009, Microsoft also made proposals in relation to disclosures of interoperability information that would improve interoperability between third party products and several Microsoft products, including Windows, Windows Server, Office, Exchange, and SharePoint (see MEMO/09/352 ). Microsoft is publishing improved proposals on its website. The Commission welcomes this initiative. Even though it remains informal vis-à-vis the Commission, Microsoft’s proposal, which is in the form of a public undertaking, includes warranties that Microsoft offers to third parties and that can be privately enforced.
Privately enforced? Informal? Meaning we get to pay to sue Microsoft? The EU Commission washes its hands regarding enforcement? I'm afraid that doesn't sound promising. The Register's John Oates noticed that very point. In essence, Microsoft will regulate itself on interoperability. I'm sure *that* will work out well. Here's the Warranty Agreement Microsoft agrees with itself to follow with regard to interoperability. It's in .doc format.

ECIS has put out a statement, pointing out some issues that seem not to be addressed and indicating it will be involved in the testing process, monitoring:

ECIS and its member companies will analyse the commitments to verify their ability to ensure that Microsoft respects both the letter and the spirit of the settlement. The original Microsoft proposals published in July were inadequate in many respects. It is particularly important that any settlement includes vigorous enforcement mechanisms including regular monitoring to ensure that Microsoft lives up to its part of the deal and that users’ choice of browsers is truly unbiased as Commissioner Kroes has promised.
Hmm. I hope the EU Commission doesn't let Microsoft run a "Get the Facts" type of "market testing". But remember, the "market" means you. Technically this isn't a final decision, but absent negative feedback, it is. Even with it, it probably is. Let me show you.

Here's the first paragraph from the Market Test Notice [PDF]:
According to Article 9 of the Council Regulation (EC) 1/2003 of 16 December 2002 on the implementation of the rules on competition laid down in Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty 1, the Commission may decide – in cases where it intends to adopt a decision requiring that an infringement is brought to an end and the parties concerned offer commitments to meet the concerns expressed to them by the Commission in its preliminary assessment – to make those commitments binding on the undertakings. Such a decision may be adopted for a specified period and shall conclude that there are no longer grounds for action by the Commission. According to Article 27(4) of the same Regulation, the Commission shall publish a concise summary of the case and the main content of the commitments.
So, interested parties like ECIS can provide feedback, and they in turn need to get feedback, I assume. From the EU Commission press release:
Interested parties will be formally invited by the market test notice in the Official Journal to present their comments within one month of the publication in Official Journal.
So don't email them. Well, you can, but they aren't asking for that. They want to formally hear from interested parties. But remember, the "market" is you. Microsoft may have all the money in the kingdom, so to speak, and the power that goes with it, but you have the numbers. For that matter, if you are not happy with the solutions, you do have a choice to just stop using their products. That sends a message also, not to mention altering the money/power equation. Use what you like, of course, but if you really are tired of Microsoft, thanks to some good-hearted and honest volunteers, you do have a choice.

Here's a couple of paragraphs from the press release regarding the browser choice:

The improvements that Microsoft has made to its proposal since July would ensure that consumers could make a free and fully informed choice of web browser. Microsoft has in particular agreed to present users with a first screen explaining what web browsers are. "Tell me more" buttons for each browser would also enable users to learn more about the web browser they may wish to install. The user experience would be better and the choice screen would better represent competing browser vendors. Finally, the proposed commitment would now be subject to a clause allowing the Commission to review it in the future to ensure that consumers would continue to have a genuine choice among browsers.

Under its revised proposal, Microsoft would make available for five years in the European Economic Area (through the Windows Update mechanism) a choice screen enabling users of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 (Microsoft's next version of its PC operating system) to choose which web browser(s) they want to install in addition to, or instead of Internet Explorer. Likewise, in future versions of Windows, including Windows 7, PC manufacturers would be able to install competing web browsers, set those as default and disable Internet Explorer.

Here's the full ECIS statement:
ECIS Press Statement

In reaction to today’s European Commission announcement that it has concluded a draft settlement to end Microsoft’s anti-competitive practices in the market for browsers, server operating systems and related products, ECIS Legal Counsel & Spokesman, Thomas Vinje, a partner at Clifford Chance has made the following statement.

Brussels – 7 October 2009 – “ECIS applauds the tenacity of European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes in securing Microsoft’s admission that it must end its anticompetitive bundling and non-disclosure practices which have harmed consumers and hindered innovation for over a decade.

“ECIS and its member companies will analyse the commitments to verify their ability to ensure that Microsoft respects both the letter and the spirit of the settlement. The original Microsoft proposals published in July were inadequate in many respects. It is particularly important that any settlement includes vigorous enforcement mechanisms including regular monitoring to ensure that Microsoft lives up to its part of the deal and that users’ choice of browsers is truly unbiased as Commissioner Kroes has promised.

“ECIS sincerely hopes that the month-long market testing of these commitments will prove the settlement sufficiently robust to effectively open the Windows monopoly system to genuine competition today and equally forward looking to deal with a rapidly evolving marketplace. “Microsoft’s interoperability commitment takes the shape of a public undertaking relying on private enforcement, according to the Commission’s press statement. Our experience over the last decade has shown that scrutiny by public authorities is critical to ensure Microsoft’s effective compliance and must accompany private enforcement mechanisms.

“ECIS notes that the settlement does not appear to deal with the inadequacies of Microsoft’s standards compliance, unfair pricing practices or other concerns related to patent abuse or standards manipulation.” For more information see the ECIS website: http://www.ecis.eu/index.html.

And here's the meat of the Microsoft press release:
Statement: Microsoft Welcomes European Commission Market Testing Announcement

A statement by Brad Smith, General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation, regarding the European Commission’s decision to market test a set of measures Microsoft has offered to address competition law issues relating to Windows, Office and other high volume products.

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 7, 2009 –The following is a statement by Brad Smith, General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation, regarding the European Commission’s announcement about its decision to market test a set of measures Microsoft has offered to address competition law issues relating to Windows, Office and other high volume products:

We welcome today’s announcement by the European Commission to move forward with formal market testing of Microsoft’s proposal relating to web browser choice in Europe. We also welcome the opportunity to take the next step in the process regarding our proposal to promote interoperability with a broad range of our products.

Today’s announcement follows our publication of earlier drafts of these two proposals in July and broad feedback from across our industry to the Commission in August. Microsoft then engaged in extensive discussions with the Commission over the last month, during which we agreed to make numerous changes to improve these proposals. For Microsoft, today’s decision is a significant step toward closing a decade-long chapter of competition law concerns in Europe.

Summary of Proposed Understandings

Today’s announcement addresses two sets of measures. The first covers the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows and the way this will work in the future in Europe. This proposed measure ensures that PC manufacturers will continue to be able to install any browser on top of Windows and make any browser the default. It also ensures that PC manufacturers and users will be able to turn Internet Explorer on and off. And it ensures, that for the next five years in Europe, PC users who are running Internet Explorer as their default browser will receive a ballot screen that will enable them to easily download and install another browser if they would like. This ballot screen will be displayed automatically. PC users can make any other browser the default if they prefer. They can even turn Internet Explorer off, although there’s no need to turn off Internet Explorer in order to use a different browser or make another browser the default.

The Commission stated today in its formal notice that, subject to market testing, it intends to adopt a decision that makes the understanding described above legally binding on Microsoft in Europe for the next five years.

The second measure is a “public undertaking” that covers interoperability with Microsoft’s products—the way our high share products work with products from our competitors. This applies to an important set of Microsoft’s products—our Windows, Windows Server, Office, Exchange and SharePoint products—and represents the single biggest legal commitment in the history of the software industry to promote interoperability. Microsoft’s proposed undertaking will ensure that developers throughout the industry, including in the open source community, will have access to technical documentation to assist them in building products that work well with Microsoft products. Microsoft will also be required to support certain industry standards in its products and to fully document how these standards are supported. Microsoft’s proposed undertaking will make available legally-binding warranties that would be offered to third parties.

The interoperability undertaking will give full effect to the policy outlined by Commissioner Kroes in a major policy speech given in June 2008. At that time, the Commissioner said that companies offering high-share software products should be required to (i) disclose technical specifications to enable interoperability; (ii) ensure that competitors can access complete and accurate information and have a remedy if not; and (iii) ensure that the technical specifications are available at fair royalty rates, based on the inherent value of the technology disclosed. The interoperability undertaking, developed through extensive consultations with the Commission, would implement this approach in full.

The Commission stated in its announcement today that it welcomes the company’s interoperability initiative. For reasons relating to European legal procedure, this interoperability undertaking follows a different procedural path from the web browser proposal. However, Microsoft will adopt the proposed undertaking in final form upon the Commission’s final adoption of the Internet Explorer commitments.

Proposals Improved After Broad Feedback and Commission Consultations

Since July, the Commission has received extensive feedback on Microsoft’s initial proposals from a wide range of groups including browser competitors, PC manufacturers, and trade and consumer associations. Based on this feedback, Microsoft agreed with the Commission to make approximately 20 substantive changes to our proposals, including changes to:

  • Ensure that competing browsers can be downloaded from the ballot screen more quickly and easily.

  • Ensure equivalent placement on the Windows 7 taskbar for Internet Explorer and all other browser icons.

  • Improve the usability of the browser ballot by adding introductory information, improving the design of the ballot page, and adding a feature to enable users to return more easily to it at a later time if they wish.

  • Adjust the placement of the browser choices on the ballot screen so that Internet Explorer is no longer listed first. Instead, the five most popular browsers will be listed in alphabetical order by vendor, followed by the next seven most popular (also alphabetical), so that 12 choices are displayed in total.

  • Adopt suggestions from competitors to strengthen Microsoft’s obligations to publish documentation about the company’s interoperability technology.

  • Address security software vendor feedback by ensuring disclosure of certain programming interfaces accessed by Microsoft’s own security products.
As we’ve said before, the steps described above will require significant change within Microsoft. We believe that these are important steps we should take in order to resolve the Commission's competition law concerns.

Today is an important day. Although the European Commission has not made its final decision, today’s news is a major step forward, and we’re hopeful this will help move us towards closure to the past and the building of a new foundation for the future.

Here's the Proposed Commitments document [PDF], the part about OEMs:
(4) Microsoft shall not retaliate against any OEM for developing, using, distributing, promoting or supporting software that competes with Microsoft web browsers, in particular by altering Microsoft's commercial relations with that OEM, or by withholding Consideration. Without prejudice to the application of EC competition law nothing in this Commitment shall prohibit Microsoft from providing Consideration to any OEM with respect to any Microsoft web browser where that Consideration is commensurate with the absolute level or amount of that OEM’s development, distribution, promotion, or licensing of that web browser.

(5) Microsoft shall not enter into any agreement with an OEM that conditions the grant of any Consideration on the OEM’s refraining from developing, using, distributing, promoting or supporting any software that competes with Microsoft web browsers. Without prejudice to the application of EC competition law nothing in this Commitment shall prohibit Microsoft from entering into an agreement with an OEM for any joint venture that limits the development, use, distribution, promotion or support of the jointly developed web browser technology to use with or in a Windows Client PC Operating System or a Microsoft web browser

(6) Microsoft shall not terminate a direct OEM license for Windows Client PC Operating Systems without having first given the OEM written notice of the reasons for the proposed termination and not less than thirty days’ opportunity to cure. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Microsoft shall have no obligation to provide such a termination notice and opportunity to cure to any OEM that has received two or more such notices during the term of its license

Hahahahaha. I'm positive Microsoft will play fair. They always do. We saw that in the OOXML saga, did we not, class? Kidding. But seriously, I'm sure they will be super good during the market test period, let's put it that way. And be real. They don't actually have to do any of the above. OEMs will put the most popular browser on the computers they sell. That's why monopolies like to stay that way. There are built-in advantages if you are the 800-pound gorilla in the room.

Here are the interoperability documents, in .doc format, natch, speaking of interoperability, posted on Microsoft's website:

So, to read about Microsoft's proposed interoperability self-made solution, you need to have the ability to read Microsoft's proprietary document format. If the EU Commission was really serious, they'd notice that.

And what do you think the future holds if the EU Commission does nothing about the OOXML standards scandal? I think in the future, you won't be able to open Microsoft documents adequately, even with OpenOffice.org, once all the proprietary extensions are woven in to Microsoft's version of XML. Microsoft's software will just run that much smoother than you can, sort of like WordPerfect. And you know how that turned out. Here's my evidence, from the Warranty Agreement:

For the avoidance of doubt, TAM support provided with respect to the Covered Standards is intended to facilitate Company’s understanding of Microsoft’s particular implementation of such Covered Standards in the applicable Covered Products to the extent reflected in the Standards Documentation provided by Microsoft. The parties acknowledge and agree that the applicable standards development organization maintains and is responsible for the accuracy and sufficiency of the documentation of Covered Standards as adopted by the applicable standards development organization.
Microsoft never changes, as I read the tea leaves. Never. And this agreement is Exhibit A. You want to know the real problem? Here it is, a statement by Kroes today:
“This is a trustful deal that we’re making. I trust Microsoft,” Kroes, 68, told journalists today in Brussels, adding that she’s been in contact with Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer. “There can’t be a misunderstanding. Here is the final result of a long discussion over a long period.”
Famous last words. A trustful deal with Microsoft. Lordy. The problem isn't that they don't understand. Call me cynical, but I also don't believe she suddenly trusts Microsoft. On what basis? Microsoft's behavior for the last ten years in its dealing with the EU Commission? Puh lease.

Ms. Kroes' five-year term ends in a month, unless it is renewed or extended.

Update:

I thought it would be useful to bring you up to date on how Microsoft is doing in complying with the 2002 order in the US DOJ antitrust action. This is with oversight, by the way, not Microsoft approving itself. Here's the modified final order from 2006, after the appeal. How is Microsoft doing? Complying heartily? Let's read a section from the August 2009 Joint Status Report, the most recent, on how Microsoft is doing on providing documentation for interoperability purposes, as ordered:

Plaintiffs' work concerning Section III.E and the Microsoft Communications Protocol Program ("MCPP") continues to center on efforts to improve the technical documentation provided to licensees. In particular, Plaintiffs, in conjunction with the Technical Committee ("TC") and Craig Hunt, the California Group's technical expert, are reviewing the results of Microsoft's project to rewrite the technical documentation that has been described in detail in previous status reports and identifying issues with the revised documentation for Microsoft to address.(1)

As discussed in prior Joint Status Reports, as part of the technical documentation rewrite project Microsoft is creating a set of "System Documents" to describe the interaction among the protocols in a number of complex scenarios. Microsoft delivered the final System Document on June 30, completing the technical documentation rewrite project. Plaintiffs and the TC are reviewing the complete set of documentation to determine whether it is "substantially complete."(2) If the quality of the unreviewed documents is comparable to that of the documents already reviewed, and if there are no unexpected discoveries as the TC continues with its initial review of the technical documentation, Plaintiffs expect that by the end of the year they will be in a position to determine that the documents are substantially complete.

As described in prior Joint Status Reports, the TC has adjusted its technical documentation review by shifting the engineering resources formerly used on the prototype implementation and validation projects to direct review of the documents. As a result, the TC has been identifying technical documentation issues ("TDIs") at a higher rate than in the past. Although it understandably took Microsoft some time to shift staffing to handle the increased TDI flow, Plaintiffs are seeing positive signs regarding Microsoft's TDI resolution rate.

Hilarious. Seven years after they lost that case, they still haven't provided acceptable documentation. Every report sees hopeful signs, but all these years later, there is still no finished compliance. They never get there, despite trying and trying and trying to comply, and that's with a technical committee helping them and watching their progress. Here are all the reports. Read them and weep. The EU system doesn't even have any oversight on interoperability. Microsoft is on its honor.

And if you can't trust Microsoft, I ask you, who *can* you trust?

Update 2: Ina Fried just got off the phone with Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith:

Smith said that the approach Microsoft took with regard to interoperability was designed to adopt methods that Nellie Kroes, commissioner for competition, had outlined in a speech last year for how companies with high market share products should behave.

"I actually think this in effect implements the model that the Commission has been advocating," Smith said. Moreover, he said it is a model that other software companies should pay attention to, he said, noting that there are lots of companies that have high market share. He noted that Google has 78 percent of the paid search market and IBM has 100 percent of the mainframe market, while Adobe also has dominant positions in certain areas, such as Photoshop.

"It is important we believe to create a level legal and regulatory playing field," Smith said. "Everyone that has a high market share needs to respect the same set of rules. I think a number of these rules are likely to be applicable to other companies and other products."

So they are making good on their threat to hold other companies' feet to the fire. As if anybody in this man's world acts like Microsoft.

When rumors of a deal began to get thick in the air, FSFE sent an open letter to Neelie Kroes, and they listed a couple of issues that need to be addressed, in their view:

For desktop applications, FSFE argues that the software monopolist must release interoperability information in such a way that it can be used in Free Software. The company must also make a binding commitment not to enforce its patents against Free Software. That would prevent Microsoft from using Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) to keep rivals from making use of the information.
Details from the letter:
While the Commission has not yet issued a statement of objections regarding Microsoft's failure to share interoperability information with competitors, a settlement is being sought on this issue as well. Again, FSFE has analysed Microsoft's proposed interoperability undertaking, and has found it insufficient to establish competition in the European market for desktop software.

It is worth noting that in many cases, the strongest competitors with Microsoft's desktop applications are Free Software. OpenOffice is a case in point, constituting as it does the most widely used alternative to Microsoft Office. We therefore consider it essential that any settlement on interoperability ensures that Free Software can use the information provided by Microsoft to compete on an equal footing. Regarding interoperability, our core concerns are:

  • Microsoft must be required to provide interoperability information either royalty-free or in return for a one-time payment. Running royalties are incompatible with Free Software. The PFIF agreement, which resulted from the Samba case, provides a tested and working instance of such an agreement.
  • Microsoft must provide a legally binding assurance that it will not assert those of its patents which relate to the interoperability information against Free Software. The lack of such assurance would let the company use Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) to discourage competitors from making use of the interoperability information, leaving the remedy ineffective.
In both cases, we consider that an effective settlement is much preferable to one that is quickly achieved, but lacks the power to establish competition in the European market for desktop software.
We've already learned that it is not royalty-free. And I have a question. If you can't patent software as such in Europe, how come the EU Commission allows patent licenses for a fee in Europe?

  


EU Commission Announces Market Test of Microsoft Suggestions on Browser Choice, Interoperability - Updated | 230 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
OFF TOPIC
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 11:24 AM EDT
N/t

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections HERE
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 11:26 AM EDT
N/T

[ Reply to This | # ]

Anonymous comments HERE :)
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 11:28 AM EDT
Just kidding!

:)

[ Reply to This | # ]

EU Commission Announces Market Test of Microsoft Suggestions on Browser Choice, Interoperability
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 11:41 AM EDT
Has M$ paid all their EUC fines yet?

[ Reply to This | # ]

News Picks Thread
Authored by: Imaginos1892 on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 11:49 AM EDT
Oh, you want Room 9. This is Room 9-A -- ABUSE!!

[ Reply to This | # ]

According to Slashdot, this is a done deal...
Authored by: jkrise on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 11:55 AM EDT
Story link The bit about Kroes and Ballmer having a long chat makes this seem very unconvincing...

[ Reply to This | # ]

pay to sue, or pay to be sued?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 12:11 PM EDT
Even though it remains informal vis-à-vis the Commission, Microsoft’s proposal, which is in the form of a public undertaking, includes warranties that Microsoft offers to third parties and that can be privately enforced.

Privately enforced? Informal? Meaning we get to pay to sue Microsoft?

My take was that we get to pay to be sued by Microsoft.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Which browsers will be included?
Authored by: txwikinger on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 12:41 PM EDT
This seems a very bad solution. How are the browser to be included be
decided?

How do they install always the most current stable release?

If someone writes a new browser for windows next month will it be later
included?

This seems very arbitrary to me. Innovation and competition are not the
real reason for this.

[ Reply to This | # ]

EU-MS Deal - Looks pretty good at first blush.
Authored by: SilverWave on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 01:04 PM EDT
The only things missing from my wish list are:

Its only 5 years... 10 would be more in line with the length of the abuse.

The other top 5 are not installed by default... this means that IE still has a
previliged position.

It looks as if the ballot is still presented by IE... which gives the _wrong_
message.

Still this is about 90% of what I asked for.

Oh an I _trust_ MS as well - I trust MS to be MS.

/off to dig in to the report details.


---
RMS: The 4 Freedoms
0 run the program for any purpose
1 study the source code and change it
2 make copies and distribute them
3 publish modified versions

[ Reply to This | # ]

Kroes caves; Microsoft is no longer a monopoly?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 01:08 PM EDT
Well, I guess it was inevitable. And, of course, they did nothing about ISO.

Does this mean they don't think Microsoft is a monopoly any more? If that's what
they think, they should say so and refund Microsoft's fines. Or, maybe,
Microsoft was a monopoly then, but not now? If not, why not?

So, Microsoft is no longer a monopoly. Does that make what they do legal? What
would happen if Apple or Red Hat or IBM or pre-Novell Suse did what Microsoft
did to ISO? Does not being a monopoly make all that OK?

And Microsoft is losing money. Wow, how does a monopoly lose money? Oh, maybe
that's why Microsoft isn't a monopoly anymore. Who ever heard of a monopoly
losing money? Is that what they're looking at?

But, but . . . if Microsoft is no longer a monopoly, how do they get no-bid
government contracts? When was the last time Red Hat or Apple got a no-bid
government contract? How often does that happen? What was the last company
besides Microsoft to get a no-bid government contract?

Finally, they must think Microsoft is no longer a monopoly because otherwise
there would be no point to a market test.

Just scratching my head.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 01:33 PM EDT
"Here's the Warranty Agreement Microsoft agrees...to follow with regard to interoperability. It's in .doc format."

Priceless.

-Wang-Lo.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Register Article
Authored by: SpaceLifeForm on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 01:38 PM EDT
Link

The 13-page Public Undertaking is summarised in one sentence: "Microsoft shall ensure that third-party software products can interoperate with Microsoft’s Relevant Software Products using the same Interoperability Information on an equal footing as other Microsoft Software Products."

So, pray tell, please define "Relevant Software Products".

I know how Microsoft will.

Neelie has sold out just to look as though something was accomplished.

---

You are being MICROattacked, from various angles, in a SOFT manner.

[ Reply to This | # ]

EU Commission Announces Market Test of Microsoft Suggestions on Browser Choice, Interoperability
Authored by: phaoUNTOtom on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 02:11 PM EDT
Huh? Do I understand this correctly?

1) Internet Explorer still gets installed by default? It seems this is the case
when I read "as well as turn off IE all together." at
http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=4167

2) The users get prompted using Internet Explorer (as indicated in the
http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=4167 screenshot) to download competitor's
browsers?

---

Ummmmm, I could have very quickly designed a web page showing different browser
options the user can download and install as well . . . and saved everyone some
money!

Where is the progress here?

[ Reply to This | # ]

What happens if someone isnt connected yet
Authored by: Kilz on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 02:12 PM EDT
What happens if I forget to hook up the computer to the Internet? What happens
if I try the computer out while waiting for the Internet installation to happen?
What browser do I get to choose if it cant be downloaded then?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Browser Choice, some practical considerations.
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 02:12 PM EDT
First, let's recognize that the display and rendering engine
used in Internet Explorer is also part of the Online Help,
File Explorer, Preview viewer and more. It's used to render
BMP, JPG, PNG as well as active desktop components in folder
views.

You can't strip out every IE component used in Windows
without disabling all of Windows. So as a given: the most
you can expect is that web access is blocked and another
browser engine is the default.

Now the simple way to give the user a choice of browsers is
to embed an HTML page, linking to each of the possible
browser choices. There will be a link to that HTML file on
the Desktop. A user clicks on it, or it is called in the
Winlogon script or from the Startup folder. It will launch
using the default browser, which is initially IE, but COULD
BE any installed HTML rendering engine. It would not have
to be a full featured browser. Even old Mosaic would work.

Would you want the 12 browsers pre-installed?
No. Software is constantly being updated. Why include 12
outdated browser packages, when you can link directly to the
host server via the web and get the latest, fully patched,
machine specific version. The last thing I want is for
Microsoft to pick which browsers installers are pre-packed.

Since the actual choice menu is just an HTML file, it would
be easy for resellers, OEMs and others to add, edit, enhance
or otherwise update the options, meaning Microsoft is not
the final arbiter of choice.

I actually see this as a positive option.

Yes, IE exists and is installed, but it will be pretty easy
for new browser products to be added. And browser developer
can also write supplemental information and detail pages
about their product and readily add them to the Browser
Choice menu.

We may differ on the final results, but this is a functional
and potentially useful way to select a default browser and
even add secondary or tertiary applications. How many
Window's users took several years before trying FireFox or
Chrome or Opera? This gives them a shot from day one.

I just hope they also include a startup HTML that offers a
choice of default software with descriptions, directions and
easy links to 7-Zip, FoxIt, Open Office, ABI word, Symphony,
Gmail and Google Docs, etc. Much rather see that than the
pre-installed trial ware that's currently part of OEM
distributions.

Anonymous

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Folks, it's better than nothing
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 03:24 PM EDT

Don't be so negative. A person who makes nothing but negative comments is generally seen as a permanent whinger, and is ignored.

Usually rightly.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT Off track -- question about spreme court
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 03:35 PM EDT
i'm a legal neophyte

if bliski, when it reaches the supreme, is not affirmed (as far as software
patents go), is it game over? just thinking about roe vs wade being continuously
debated, and its possible return to the court.

i thought that supreme court decisions were concrete.

cheers

[ Reply to This | # ]

This really worries me
Authored by: The Mad Hatter r on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 04:06 PM EDT


This is an improvement in that IE can't reassert control as the default, unless you want it to.
Unless some poor intern at Microsoft makes a mistake in coding, and it somehow slips through quality assurance...

---
Wayne

http://crankyoldnutcase.blogspot.com/

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patents on software as such
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 05:02 PM EDT
The EPO has been granting patents on software, much like the USPTO has. The
trick is to craft the application for a "computer implemented
invention" in such a way that it is not only software, software as such,
but the software is part of the invention. The software is deemed to be
patentable if there is a technical effect.
This all hinges on the interpretation of "as such". If you take it to
mean that software, being software, cannot be patented, just like mathematics
(because the same "as such" applies to mathematics as well), then
software is not patentable.
If you believe it to mean that software on its own cannot be patentable, then
just adding some finely crafted wording to add a technical character (like
modifying the state of a computer) will satisfy the EPO and its members.
The EPO enhanced board of appeals is deciding whether software is patentable
according to the law and invited people to provide them with their opinions.
This seems to be fuelled by the EPO leadership being composed of representatives
of national patent offices, that all benefit financially from granting patents,
allegedly.
So the situation is not much different from the US: no, you cannot patent
software on its own, but you can patent it in combination with a computer when
considered as a whole. And the parts of the whole are protectable as well, on
their own.

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[OT] Off Topic
Authored by: SilverWave on Wednesday, October 07 2009 @ 05:40 PM EDT
So that people who have, hide anonymous turned on, can see the thread :)

---
RMS: The 4 Freedoms
0 run the program for any purpose
1 study the source code and change it
2 make copies and distribute them
3 publish modified versions

[ Reply to This | # ]

How do we protest about this point?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 05:14 AM EDT

Here's the Warranty Agreement Microsoft agrees with itself to follow with regard to interoperability. It's in .doc format.

Kroes should not let this pass.

Incidentally, Microsoft is one of the very few companies that does not provide investors with a PDF of its annual report to download from its website. It's available only in Microsoft's proprietary .doc format. Most companies provide their annual reports as pdfs.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Warranty Agreement
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 06:30 AM EDT
Whereas, Company does not desire to receive any information that could be used
to clone or port Microsoft products in whole or in part ..

Microsoft will provide Company with access to Microsoft’s own tests and tools
that Microsoft uses to test interoperability of its products with the applicable
Covered Products ..

Microsoft will make the Test Suite available to Company at no charge for
Company's use on its own premises or (where impractical) in Microsoft’s
interoperability lab ..

Microsoft may terminate this Agreement upon written notice at any time if
Company is in material breach of any warranty, term or condition of this
Agreement and fails to remedy that breach within 60 days after written notice
thereof ..



[ Reply to This | # ]

EU Commission Announces Market Test of Microsoft Suggestions on Browser Choice, Interoperability - Updated
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 01:38 PM EDT
Such complete hogwash from MS:

>>> "I actually think this in effect implements the model that the
Commission has been advocating," Smith said. Moreover, he said it is a
model that other software companies should pay attention to, he said, noting
that there are lots of companies that have high market share. He noted that
Google has 78 percent of the paid search market and IBM has 100 percent of the
mainframe market, while Adobe also has dominant positions in certain areas, such
as Photoshop.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

MS has been found guilty of COMMITTING CRIMES and various illegalities

Google has NOT BEEN CONVICTED OF CRIMES

Why should Google be treated the same as MS?

MS has always, and will always be trying to twist everything to their advantage.


Always

They CANNOT be trusted

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Small Print
Authored by: sproggit on Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 05:56 PM EDT
"I actually think this in effect implements the model that the Commission has been advocating," Smith said. Moreover, he said it is a model that other software companies should pay attention to, he said, noting that there are lots of companies that have high market share. He noted that Google has 78 percent of the paid search market and IBM has 100 percent of the mainframe market, while Adobe also has dominant positions in certain areas, such as Photoshop.

"It is important we believe to create a level legal and regulatory playing field," Smith said. "Everyone that has a high market share needs to respect the same set of rules. I think a number of these rules are likely to be applicable to other companies and other products."



This is a rather interesting piece of misdirection from Microsoft. Let's see if we can pick apart some of these claims...

Google has 78 Percent of Paid Search.
That may or may not be true. But here's an interesting thing. In terms of sales, Google is pretty much 100% a search company. Yes, they release software under the GPL - we can't dispute that. I believe they also license their search technology to business. But they release much of their developed code under the GPL. For me, most important of all, they do not leverage their market dominance in search to control other markets. Unlike say Microsoft, who have done exactly that.

IBM has 100% of the mainframe market.
Thing is, that statement isn't quite true, is it? IBM manufacture two families of machines that most of us would consider to be "mainframe" in terms of capacity: the zOS platform and the iSeries platform. For the iSeries, IBM produce the Operating System and a range of applications, but there are other sources of software for it. For the zOS platform, the US Government legally forced IBM to "split up" the structure of the mainframe, to enable other companies to write software for it. So for example, the security sub-system for zOS is a component called RACF: there is a competing product also available for the platform - ACF/2. IBM's database for the mainframe is DB/2 - it's competitor product is ADABAS. Even the hardware that IBM produces to run zOS has competitors - plug compatible machines such as Hitachi - that run the OS.

Adobe also has dominant positions in certain areas, such as Photoshop.
This bit made me smile. One could almost sense the bitterness in the voice. 'Argh. We have a competitor in the graphics market. They will be assimilated.' Thing is, when Microsoft move into a market segment, they can bully their way in, as they did with Internet Explorer; they can buy their way in, as they did with Visio; they can cheat their way in, as they did with Windows NT ( for those that don't know the history, Microsoft "acquired" a design and a development Team from Digital, after Digital approached MS to develop a windowed OS derivative for VMS - hence VMS -> WNT ). So for the most aggressive and dominant player in the personal computer software space to call foul at Adobe is quite the compliment, isn't it?


So in case you missed it, in the world according to Microsoft, white is black, up is down, and, of course, bad is good...

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  • Small Print - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 06:07 PM EDT
    • Small Print - Authored by: tiger99 on Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 06:48 PM EDT
      • gimp - Authored by: sumzero on Friday, October 09 2009 @ 10:31 AM EDT
  • google - Authored by: designerfx on Friday, October 09 2009 @ 05:03 PM EDT
And I have a question. If you can't patent software as such in Europe, how come the EU Commissio
Authored by: kjs on Thursday, October 08 2009 @ 06:49 PM EDT
PJ: "And I have a question. If you can't patent software as such in Europe,
how come the EU Commission allows patent licenses for a fee in Europe?"

very simple answer:

as the US and some other countries have stupid patent systems some European
manufacturers which want to export to these countries may need a license to do
so.

>kjs

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Ms. Kroes' five-year term ends in a month, unless it is renewed or extended.
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 11 2009 @ 02:40 PM EDT
Do we need to start placing bets on her future employment when that term is
up?

This hard 180 she is doing at the end of her tenure is rather suspicious.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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