CyberTech Rambler

July 12, 2006

Microsoft fined for non-compliance of EU antitrust order

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 1:05 pm

Not a surprising news as the grapevine was full of rumours about EU imposing fine on Microsoft for non-compliance of its antitrust order. EU Press Release here and The  European Commissioner for Competition Policy Introductory Remakrs here.

Like any company being fine this huge amount of money, Microsoft is going to appeal. Good luck to them. Their Press Release blames the EU for not giving them clear instructions on how to comply. Let’s see whether their appeal will be based on this or something else. With SCO case in mind, what one says in the public and says in court can be totally different. In the end, it is the latter that really counts.

Does Microsoft’s claim has any merits? I am not in a position to comment as I am not involved in the case. If I were, I would probably have to keep my mouth shut for fear of being labelled as bias to any party and to keep an open mind. Even if I were, I am not a interoperability expert and as such cannot form an expert opinion. As a layman however, the lack of interoperability products (closed source or otherwise) on the market that has exceeded the level of interoperability with Microsoft beyond that expected via natural evolution without Microsoft help, is a clear sign for me that something, somewhere has gone wrong. This, however, still does not mean that Microsoft is to blame. For this, I infers from Microsoft lacks of example where company successfully leverage the interoperability information they provide and ample examples to the contrary.

Can interoperability be done? From a purely technical point of view, yes. The most damning evidence that this can be done with Microsoft is Andrew Tridgell testimony in a recent appeal by Microsoft. He says that Microsoft used to turn up in an annual industry event call “Plugfest” where interoperability between different systems are tested thoroughly until the late 1990s. At that time, the significance of his testimony are

  1. It has been done before,
  2. Microsoft is the one that refuse to participate in interoperability, despite ample opportunity to and
  3. He put it in such a simple and elegant way that everyone, especially non-technical person can understand.

At that time, I thought his testimony is worth much more than the cost to fly him from Australia to Luxemberg and to feed him for the duration of his appearance in court. (Mr Tridgell was not paid for his testimony). Now, I think I can add a fourth item: Microsoft need only to pick up where it left, which is approximately six years at the time of the EU antitrust decision in 2004.

This is a crucial point for me when it comes to the arguement on whether is it technically feasible, on the day of EU announcing its decision in 2004, for Microsoft to provide the interoperability decision. I know two years had passed, but we must insist that, having being notified of this decision, Microsoft did not take any steps that hamper the enforcement of this decision. If they did, someone should go to jail as a punishment. It will be difficult for Microsoft to rely on some of the arguments it is trying to rely on when arguing that it is doing its uttter best (Taking engineers out-of-retirement for example, implying the technology is old and no one understands it). Mr Tridgell testimony is not gold, but platinum.

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