February 21, 2008 11:16 AM PST

EU regulators cool on Microsoft open-source move

EU regulators cool on Microsoft open-source move
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A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.

The European Commission has expressed doubt regarding Microsoft's announcement Thursday claiming a move toward greater interoperability.

In a statement, the Commission said that while it would welcome greater interoperability, Microsoft had made similar announcements before.

"The Commission would welcome any move towards genuine interoperability," the statement says. "Nonetheless, the Commission notes that today's announcement follows at least four similar statements by Microsoft in the past on the importance of interoperability."

The agency added that the Microsoft announcement would not affect its antitrust investigations against the software giant.

"In the course of its ongoing interoperability investigation, the Commission will verify whether Microsoft is complying with EU antitrust rules, whether the principles announced today would end any infringement were they implemented in practice, and whether or not the principles announced today are in fact implemented in practice," said the Commission. "Today's announcement by Microsoft does not address the tying allegations."

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer denied that Thursday's move was "to get in compliance with the EC's decision," saying that it reflected "both the reality of our unique legal situation and our view of what will be required, but also what we see as new opportunities and risks in the connected world."

"These steps are being taken on our own," Ballmer added.

Leading figures in the open-source community had mixed reactions to Microsoft's announcement that it would publish "all" details of application programming interfaces for its high-volume products, list its software patents that cover interoperability, and refrain from suing noncommercial implementations of its products.

Jeremy Allison, a prominent figure in the Samba open-source community, welcomed the move. "I'm generally positive," he told ZDNet UK, a CNET News.com sister site. "I think Microsoft has realized it can make more money that way (through patents), and more power to (it). On the face of it, this looks good."

Allison said the announcement wouldn't make any difference to the Samba community, as it already had access to the protocols Microsoft was offering.

"We had to sign (nondisclosure agreements) and protection documents," said Allison. "Now Microsoft is handing out (the specs) to anyone, which is what they should have done from the beginning."

But Mark Taylor from the Open Source Consortium said the Microsoft announcement is "smoke and mirrors."

"Microsoft is saying it will give access to open APIs, however, but there are terms," said Taylor. "It's the same old story. Patent protection applies, and people can use the APIs commercially as long as they pay Microsoft a royalty. They are trying to enclose open commons by trying to apply their business model, which is all about owning technology, to open source."

Tom Espiner and David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from London.


Correction: An earlier version of this report attributed comments to Brad Smith that should have been attributed to Steve Ballmer.

See more CNET content tagged:
Jeremy Allison, interoperability, announcement, commission, Steve Ballmer


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Typical EU
Just shows the EU doesn't care about enforcing laws, but rather wants to show the world how powerful they are.
Posted by sfotoord (19 comments )
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Re: "Typical EU"
You also said; "Just shows the EU doesn't care about enforcing laws, but rather wants to show the world how powerful they are". Who knows for sure what they (The EU) are about; perhaps, just perhaps they are attempting to stay relevant in today's fast changing world economy in which Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC Countries) are set to dominate. The EU maybe is also not able to do anything better with their time other than what they are attempting to do whenever it comes to dealings with American-Owned companies. :-( !
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
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Of course, the EU
doesn't want MS to actually comply with its blackmail demands. They'd have to find a different source of revenue. Maybe MS will be nice and ween them slowly. Still, MS's teats must be awfully sore.
Posted by suyts (824 comments )
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Huuh.. how convenient, this is the explanation for the purchase of yahoo!!!
I see how convenient is now to release those codes, look like a nice and caring guy, blame it on the sanctions from EU, and then purchase yahoo... he he he... This guy knows it all, well that is what he thinks.

This is so obvious that Billy boy knows that the beginning of the end of Microsoft is around the corner, so actually giving those codes away will help him get in the Online business in a smooth and diplomatic way. he he he... Nobody noticed it Bill.

In the near future we will be using the Internet for anything, there will be no need to purchase those expensive Microsoft Software's to get the job done, all this services will be online either for free or for a very small fee; which makes the explanation for Microsoft dying to purchase Yahoo. As yahoo is already big and established and Microsoft lacks online experience they will only need to implement they're monopolized tactics and get the big bite before anyone else.

Poor Microsoft, don't get me wrong I love the products and own many of them but I don't like Bill's predatory personality. It is a love and hate thing.

I ask my self if this guy ever gets full? Why not leave something for others? well, I came out with 3 conclusions: either he has a monopolistic set of mind or his Ego is tooooooo big and/or he has so much money that by acting this way it is the fun for him you know kind of like a game for him.

Well I suggest that with his brilliant mind and tons of money he could help some good causes (plural), investing in ways to stop the warming of the earth, in solar energy, or maybe invent the best security software, I don't know there are so many different things that are needed and that the guy might come up with a good idea or solution.
Posted by Fknews (1 comment )
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With The EU Its All About The Money Not Technology
With the EU Social Democracy it is all about *bleeding* successful U.S. Capitalists not technology, interoperability or fair-competition.

The EU is ever on the hunt for another USD Pay Day from U.S. Companies.
Posted by Catgic (106 comments )
Reply Link Flag
... else (apart from Religious Freedom...) do you think was at the root of battle for independence from Great Britain? Are these words familiar - "The Tax Man Cometh"
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
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