CyberTech Rambler

December 22, 2007

Samba signed on the dotted line for Microsoft protocol information

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 1:52 am
Tags: , , ,

Does not really matter how both sides spins it, it seems a complicated legal maneuvre was performed to get both side to agree on the issue of access to Microsoft Workgroup protocol information, as required in Microsoft’s settlement with the European Commission.

I blogged a while back that (1) EU will have to explain why the settlement excluded GPL software, if this was the case, and (2)It is SamBA’s opinion of the settlement that counts, not yours, not mine or other commentators.

My original review of the documents do suggest that the document is on the unacceptable side. If it turn out that you are surprised that the documents will get amended as people signs up for it then you are on your own. I was not surprised that they were amended, but was surprised about the substantial changes.

The fact that the EU agrees with Microsoft that the documents can stay confidential does not surprise me. However, I did felt that the requirement of a one-off payment of EURO10,000 per person needs clarification. Do you mean a physcial person or a legal entity? It was answered as it appears that Microsoft is willing to say it is legal entity (Protocol Freedom Information Foundation in this case) if necessary.

Microsoft of course tried to spin it so that they look good. Most commentators, including Reuters, see through the PR spinning and says that Microsoft catipulated to the European Commission. If things were as rosy as what Microsoft tries to imply, this type of agreements would be signed immediately after the European Commission rules that it has to provide the information and save both parties the cost and hassle of an appeal. Nevertheless, Microsoft did move a long way when it agrees that the source code developed from developers who have access to the confidential documents will remain free and we should take note of it.

Did European Commission influenced this specific deal? Yes. There is no doubt here. Signing the document is important for Microsoft, as Samba is one of the people at the other side of the table that did not take the money. It will demonstrate clearly to EC that Microsoft had complied.

What I really like is the fact that the Samba team did not gloat about this agreement. Any impartial commentator will see this as a significant victory for Samba. Here is a link to PJ’s article where you can find statements from a few people on the Samba teams.

Interestingly, Microsoft inserted one of the clause that makes Microsoft-Novell’s agreement controversial, i.e. the grant to “Non-commercial” open source developer. The Samba team explains that the clause has no negative effect on their work and that they will not depend on the clause. The interesting thing is, Microsoft did not make a song and dance on getting Samba to sign this clause. Presumably some gentleman agreement was struck that stop Microsoft from doing so, as it is very difficult for me to believe that Microsoft did this on its own initiative.

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