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EU Commission Regrets... No SW Patents on the Agenda & R.I.P. MS?
Friday, February 11 2005 @ 01:34 PM EST

Here's the latest on software patents in Europe, and it appears the Dutch move has succeeded:

"The Commission regrets very much that the software patent will not be on the agenda. It has been removed," Commission spokesman Olivier Drewes told a news conference.

If you read german, here's a bit more detail. It mentions that not only the Dutch Parliament opposes the directive but Spain too has taken its stand, which you can read in Spanish here and the German article also mentions a statement by UEAPME that the directive would be harmful to small and medium-sized businesses and asking for a restart. Here's their press release [PDF]. And for a little more depth on the positions of both sides, and what the future may hold, here is an article that tries to capture it all. They say that while the battle has been won by the antisoftware side for this year, the prosoftware side will surely not throw in the towel.

There is another article I think you will be interested in, an opinion piece in Silicon Insider, "R.I.P. Microsoft?" by Michael S. Malone, who has quite a track record in predicting such things, who writes that he detects the smell of death on Microsoft. ABC News took the unusual step of adding this at the end: "This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News."

Here's what Mr. Malone thinks:

"Great, healthy companies not only dominate the market, but share of mind. Look at Apple these days. But when was the last time you thought about Microsoft, except in frustration or anger? The company just announced a powerful new search engine, designed to take on Google but did anybody notice? Meanwhile, open systems world created largely in response to Microsoft's heavy-handed hegemony is slowly carving away market share from Gates & Co.: Linux and Firefox hold the world's imagination these days, not Windows and Explorer. The only thing Microsoft seems busy at these days is patching and plugging holes.

"Speaking of Gates: if you remember, he was supposed to be going back into the lab to recreate the old MS alchemy. But lately it seems statesmanship being the final refuge of the successful entrepreneur that he's been devoting more time to philanthropy than capitalism. And though Steve Ballmer is legendary for his sound and fury, these days his leadership seems to be signifying nothing.

"Longhorn's Delayed Release

"There are other clues as well. Microsoft has always had trouble with stand-alone applications, but in its core business it has been as relentless as the Borg. Now the company seems to have trouble executing even the one task that should take precedence over everything else: getting 'Longhorn,' its Windows replacement, to market. Longhorn is now two years late. That would be disastrous for a beloved product like the Macintosh, but for a product that is universally reviled as a necessary, but foul-tasting, medicine, this verges on criminal insanity. Or, more likely, organizational paralysis.

"Does anyone out there love MSN? I doubt it; it seems to share AOL's fate of being disliked but not hated enough to change your e-mail account. And do college kids still dream of going to work at MS? Five years ago it was a source of pride to go to work for the Evil Empire now, who cares? . . .

"For now, though, none of that is obvious. Microsoft is still the dominant company in high-tech, the cynosure of all those things people love and hate about computing, the defining company of our time. It is huge, powerful and confident.

"But if you sniff the air, you can just make out the first hints of rot."

Why put the two stories together on Groklaw? Because I see a connection. I see widespread distrust of Microsoft and disgust at their business practices. They may have been largely successul in pulling out the teeth of the US antitrust ruling, but they are feeling now the effects of being found guilty of antitrust violations both here and in Europe nonetheless. If there is one thing money can't buy, it's a good reputation. Maybe you really do reap what you sow after all.


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