CyberTech Rambler

May 5, 2006

Interesting tidbits about Microsoft Claims About Document Safeguard

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:05 pm

Back in March, I wrote about Microsoft claims that its 15th December update to the documentation should be considered by the European Commission in its 21th December Report because "it is available for viewing in Microsoft Headquarter in Redmond, U.S.". It says that it cannot deliver it immediately to the EU because it needs to apply Digital Restriction Management to the document. Guess what? According to this Wall Street Journal article by Mary Jacoby, when the document arrived in London a few weeks later (presumably addressed to EU's outside technical consultant on the case, Prof Neil Barrett, it was without "encryption", a.k.a. Digital Restriction Management. This fact is confirmed by Microsoft.

So, why didn't the company simply sent a copy by FedEx to London on the 15th for the document to arrived on 17th (taking into account time differences between Redmond and London)? This definitely raise some eyebrows. Ms Jacoby's account of the possibility of dirty tricks is better than mine, so please read her account.

I said in the original post that requires interested party to go to Redmond to read the documentation is psychological warfare and designed to intimidate those who took the trouble. In fact, looks like in reality, it is indeed a war : People are "locked" in a secure room, permitted only to bring with them pens and papers, no photocopying (OK this photocopying business is probably fair but do serve to give Microsoft an advantage) and security guard "assisted" bathroom breaks. All these security measure to protect Microsoft Intellectual Property which it can sent to London without "encryption"?

Everyone, except perhaps Microsoft, knows that it is not about the quantity of documentation, but quality of documentation. Microsoft has been stressing that they spend a lot of man hours preparing the documentation. I think someone have to educate them that they spend the man hours unwisely. Good documentation takes time to write but a lengthy document is always not the sign of a good document. To shows Microsoft's commitment, it told the court hearing its appeal in Luxembourg recently that Microsoft have to chase down retired people to help it prepare the documentation. Humm…., the document is for an existing product and it does not know how the product works. Bad news for everyone, especially customers who is totally dependent on Microsoft. Incompetent on the part of Microsoft for not maintaining the knowledge. Is this scenario likely? I do not think so but this is effectively what the company is trying very hard to show.

Ms Jacoby article, if accurate, shows that Microsoft has not been dealing fairly with the European Commission. Stripping out those that are difficult to substantiate (the security guard assisted bathroom visit) and looking at only events that are substantiated or collaborated by different sources, it is difficult not the come to the conclusion that Microsoft is being drag kicking and screaming by the European Commission. It does not like it a bit hence it is resisting, using all tricks in the book and under the carpet. This will poison the relationship between the company and the European Commission.

It is never good to have bad relationship with the authority of your major market. 

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