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Microsoft Hands Over Docs To EU

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the are-they-allowed-to-redact dept.

265

hankwang writes "Reuters reports that Microsoft has handed over technical documents to the EU in order to enable the competition to make interoperable software. So far, the EU has imposed fines of €497 M and €280 M onto Microsoft for abuse of its monopoly. The deadline for this documentation was today. According to Microsoft, the documentation is over 8500 pages."

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265 comments

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shocking (5, Funny)

bazorg (911295) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964606)

497... no presents for Bill's kids this Xmas...

Re:shocking (0, Flamebait)

billmcnamara (799238) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964672)

interesting to see that the money goes to the eu budget with the effect of "[reducing] the overall tax burden on individuals".. yea right, exactly opposite to what they judged today relating to beer and cigarette tax [bbc.co.uk] . The EU are no worse than microsoft.

Re:shocking (2, Informative)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964794)

no presents for Bill's kids this Xmas

Probably xtra presents, maybe it is cheap for the effect: (from TFA) " At this point, some of the major commercial businesses which needed the documents have exited the market."

CC.

Error in TFB (5, Informative)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964610)

fines of E497 and E280 is off by 6 orders of magnitude. Should be E497M and E280M.

Re:Error in TFB (-1, Redundant)

rgavril (805158) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964718)

Click on the link kids:
The overall penalty payment for just over half a year of non-compliance is 280.5 million, whereas the March 2004 Decision's fine for an abuse lasting more than five years totalled 497 million. What is the explanation for this?
so million it says, to how maby zeros you translate that ?

Re:Error in TFB (1)

incuso (747340) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964740)

In the slashdot article the word "millions" is missing...

Re:Error in TFB (0, Troll)

Adeptus_Luminati (634274) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964808)

What they should have done was increased Microsoft's software by a magnitude of 497 Euros (for pro) and 280 Euros... PER COPY THAT IS SOLD... that would devistate their sales, and more important the spread of their software and in general would sure add up to a lot more than some obscure 497Million Euros and 280Million Euros, that has no tie to volumes sold.

But hey I have a heart... I would even settle for the EU to charge them 25% of that fine, and give 10% of the proceedings to Open Source Linux... maybe.. maaaaaybe then Microsoft would change its ways. LOL

Re:Error in TFB (1, Informative)

DaPoulpe (795028) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964820)

Well technically it should be 497M€ and 280M€.
For the Euro sign is a suffix not a prefix like $ or £..

Re:Error in TFB (2, Informative)

darien (180561) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965024)

I'd be interested to know why you say that. The EU's own English style guide [europa.eu] uses it as a prefix (check out e.g. page 90)...

Re:Error in TFB (2, Informative)

DaPoulpe (795028) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965180)

Because that's how it's used throughout France and the other European countries I've been to.
Never ever saw a price written with € as a prefix.
The United Kingdom doesn't use Euro and English speakers are more familiar with the prefix usage ($ and £), that would be my guess why this English document is written that way..

Re:Error in TFB (2, Informative)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965264)

The Republic of Ireland is more or less the only country that uses both English and the euro. It is normal for the euro sign to be written as a prefix, see for example the Irish site for Komplett [komplett.ie] .

In languages other than English there are different conventions. But you wouldn't argue that an amount of one and a half euros should be written 1,50 instead of 1.50 just because lots of Euroland countries use a comma instead of a decimal point.

Re:Error in TFB (1)

Lars Clausen (1208) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965290)

ITYM use a comma as a decimal point, rather than a period.

-Lars

Re:Error in TFB (1)

Gibsnag (885901) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965254)

(S)He is right in general, whilst English speakers tend to be more comfortable with the prefix version, when I was in Germany for a festival they used it in suffix form exclusively.

Re:Error in TFB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16965054)

From TFA:

The overall penalty payment for just over half a year of non-compliance is 280.5 million, whereas the March 2004 Decision's fine for an abuse lasting more than five years totalled 497 million.

umm, that would be... (-1, Redundant)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964614)

That would be "so far, the EU has imposed fines of 497 MILLION and 280 MILLION onto Microsoft". Of course, it's still spare change for Microsoft.

Re:umm, that would be... (3, Funny)

david.given (6740) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964686)

That would be "so far, the EU has imposed fines of 497 MILLION and 280 MILLION onto Microsoft". Of course, it's still spare change for Microsoft.

Well, the value of the dollar has been slipping recently compared to the euro...

Recently? (2, Informative)

andersh (229403) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964948)

I believe the truth is that the Euro has been more worth than the U.S. Dollar for most of its existence and certainly since July 2002 [ecb.int] . At its introduction in 1999, the euro was traded at US$1.18. It declined and rose again. Over the last 365 days it has been worth an average 1.25 Dollars - never falling below 1.1697 since Dec 2005.

Big fines! (0, Redundant)

dismentor (592590) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964622)

Million, Presumably

Nobody To Cheer For (-1, Troll)

Petersko (564140) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964624)

I think the EU is even less reasonable than Microsoft, which is clearly saying something. They'll say the documentation is unusable because a preschool student can't write an OS with it. They'll claim it's incomplete, but be unable to say why. And they'll demand something else, without saying what exactly they want, levy another fine, and the fun will continue.

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (5, Informative)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964744)

*sigh*

You obviously have no idea what you are talking about. The EU has judged Microsoft to be abusing a monopoly position in the global european market. That's a big no-no for the EU Commission, since the whole "European" idea is based on free circulation of goods, people and financial instruments. In other words, the EU is against monopolies and large companies locking customers in their line of products and services. Is that so hard to understand?

To counter-balance this monopoly position, the EU has asked Microsoft to supply its competitors -- including many European companies -- with the necessary documentation. That documentation was required to open Microsoft files (.WMV, for instance) and communicate with machines running Windows system (SMB protocol). Microsoft refused and was fined a lot of money. Microsoft said it was going to comply, then delivered the required documentation. End of story.

As far as I know, havin inter-operability between Microsoft products and competitors is a Good Thing(tm). You can thank the EU for that.

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16964830)

"global european market"

"He's world famous in Newcastle!" - Gilbert.

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (1, Insightful)

October_30th (531777) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964850)

Even though I am an EU citizen, I don't quite understand this mentality that a company should be forced to hand over IP to its competitors.


How is that promoting "fair competition"?

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16964886)

It is not IP directly, it is how to make other products work with this one. This is only because Microsoft has a defacto Monopoly, the rules for competition change when you are the monopoly..

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (2, Informative)

October_30th (531777) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964944)

And why should nation states and courts get involved in making other products work with Microsoft's?


Microsoft's not a monopoly: you're perfectly free to create your own standard (as the OO crowd is trying to do). Surely you'll admit that it's not Microsoft's fault that such standards aren't catching on?

Personally I don't use OO because I can't swap files with people with whom I co-author scientific articles. MS Office and Open Office equations STILL don't work right (and before you LaTeX fanatics step in, neither of us speak that language).

Since I get my MS Office for free, why should I even consider OO?

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16965004)

Well, there's just one fatal flaw to your argument. Microsoft has been found to be a monopoly. It has also been found that Microsoft has abused its monopoly position.

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (1)

October_30th (531777) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965108)

Well, if the Microsoft really have been found to be a monopoly who abuses its position world wide, I'd certainly like to see a reference to that ruling.

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (5, Insightful)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965222)

> And why should nation states and courts get involved in making other products work with
> Microsoft's?

Because Microsoft are leveraging the effective monopoly they have in the OS and office markets to make their protocols and file formats de-facto standards, then withholding documentation in order to stop competitors from being able to use these, now standard, protocols.

> Microsoft's not a monopoly: you're perfectly free to create your own standard (as the OO
> crowd is trying to do). Surely you'll admit that it's not Microsoft's fault that such
> standards aren't catching on?

Yes they are and yes it is. Courts in both the US and the EU have found Microsoft to be a monopoly. Furthermore courts in both the EU and the US have found Microsoft to be illegally using it's monopoly status to lock-out competitors by either polluting existing standards ('embrace and extend' as it's known)(HTML, Java etc) or create proprietary standards and then consistently attempt to make it difficult for other software to be compatible (.doc, SMB, WMV etc).

> Personally I don't use OO because I can't swap files with people with whom I co-author
> scientific articles. MS Office and Open Office equations STILL don't work right (and before
> you LaTeX fanatics step in, neither of us speak that language).

All the more reason to document the file format properly and allow the applications to compete on merit and price then don't you think?

> Since I get my MS Office for free, why should I even consider OO?

I didn't notice anyone say you should. But if I can't use OO because you use Office simply because Microsoft is deliberately obfuscating their file format is that fair either?

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (1, Informative)

xoyoyo (949672) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964908)

It depends on whether or not that company is a monopoly or not, and whether it is abusing that monopoly: it's "fair" competition, not just competition. If this were a monopoly in oil, they'd have to hand over some oil wells. As Microsoft is a company whose assets are IP that's what they have to hand over. The EU is new to this trust-busting business: the US has been doing it for 100 years.

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (1)

Skrynesaver (994435) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965120)

The EU is new to this trust-busting business: the US has been doing it for 100 years.
That'd be why the US got so far with the whole breaking it up into three divisions thing (Legal, Marketing and PR I believe was a popular sugestion of the time)

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (2, Insightful)

xoyoyo (949672) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965216)

Funnily enough that all fell apart when an oil man came to power in the US, and we all know how keen the oil industry is on anti-trust measures [wikipedia.org] .

It could be argued that the US antitrust case was over-ambitious: the EU's proposed remedy attacks the same thing (Microsoft's vertical advantage in owning OS, application and media layers) in a more sensible fashion. By enforcing interoperability they enable exactly the kind of competition the Ayn Rand weenies believe the free market should give them.

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (4, Informative)

Cylix (55374) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964954)

The rules are different when you are a monopoly.

Everyone seems to forget that they were found to be a Monopoly in both EU and US.

On the European side, they were found to be illegally abusing their monopolistic powers.

On the US side, basically a few people sued them and nothing really big came from it. (Of course this is the summary and you can go read all the archives regarding this long ordeal.)

So yes, when some raging abuse of a corporation has grown out of control... the government steps in and evens things out a little bit.

Well, there is the unenlightened summary of why monopolies can be beaten with a stick and it's alright.

(It's turkey day, I'll leave it to someone else to go into a discussion about the benefits of interoperability and monopolistic standards.)

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (-1, Troll)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965230)

So, when a private person or company gets to a certain arbitrary size in terms of assets, then the government is allowed to use force to take property from them? That sounds soooo enlightened.

If I were running Microsoft, I would stop all shipments of all products to Europe (which is within their rights), and vigorously prosecute all copyright infrigment. That'll teach the government to mess with private property.

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16964984)

You may be an EU citizen, but certainly are adept at repeating MS propaganda instead of the facts at hand. This is not about handing over IP - even though that's what MS makes it sound like - but documentation on how its protocols work.

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (1)

October_30th (531777) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965134)

Ah yes. If I dare to criticize your point of view, I'm repeating propaganda.


I like interoperability, but I don't like to see it being forced like this.

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16964852)

That's ridiculous. Sure the EU says it is for free competitions and no monopolies, but it never steps in when France/Germany/Italy all promote their national tel-com/air/etc... companies and make sure that they're not bought out by foreigners. Thats about as anti-competitive as it gets. If Microsoft was a European company, it would be lauded as a world leader and protected by European national governments.

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (1)

herve_masson (104332) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964970)

but it never steps in when France/Germany/Italy all promote their national tel-com/air/etc... companies and make sure that they're not bought

If you check your facts more closely, you'll see that even though those governments somehow attempted to keep their big companies, it was more about political gesticulation than effective protection (Mittal/Arcelor saga was very pathetic in this regard).

Even if it works the way you think, this is *not* about protecting a monopoly, it's about keeping control of big companies, two very distinct subjects.

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (2, Insightful)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964896)

The only thing that makes me feel uneasy about this whole thing is the necessity for government intervention.
It would seem that things like this, in a free market, should take care of themselves...

Other companies can't create compatible software, thus Microsoft should somehow feel that burden and suffer somehow. I guess that hasn't happened..

But when the government has to intervene in ways like this, it reminds me a little too much of Reardon being forced to hand over the recipe for his metal alloy (Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand). It seems wrong, somehow, that Microsoft should be forced to give up their secret sauce. Believe me, I am no Microsoft fan, but I would have thought that the market should take care of this kind of problem itself. It should have been, somehow, in MS's interests to allow other companies to interoperate with their own. For example, "the more people we can work with, the more we'll sell our operating system." Why has this not happened?

I guess that's what being a "monopoly" is then -- when it's no longer in your self-interests to "play nice" with others.

Does the analogy with Reardon Metal, or McDonalds Secret Sauce, end when you realize that software is inherently different than a physical substance? If so, why is that? How is it different?

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (2, Funny)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964976)

things like this, in a free market, should take care of themselves...
You hit the nail in the head of the copyright problem.

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (1)

a.d.trick (894813) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965070)

Does the analogy with Reardon Metal, or McDonalds Secret Sauce, end when you realize that software is inherently different than a physical substance? If so, why is that? How is it different?

If were going for food, this would be a more correct analogy: Say I bought some Maccaroni from Kraft, and in order to cook Maccaroni and Cheese I also had to by my milk, cheese, salt, and water from Kraft. Using ingredients from another company would cause the macaroni to shrivel up and turn hard.

It's the interoptability thing that's a problem. So that's at least one reason why there's a significant difference.

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (5, Interesting)

jandersen (462034) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965092)

What it means is that your illusion of the free market is broken, simply. If you start out with a market with no restrictions at all, you will most likely get a few companies that are immensely powerful. These companies will use their power to keep others out, thus creating a non-free market.

Morale: The free market is at best an unstable and short-lived artifact. Besides, I don't think anybody actually want a *free* market - what most want is a *fair* marketplace; one where everybody has equal opportunities, so that if you are clever and hardworking, you can achieve financial success. But this requires some sort of regulation - ie. government intervention in most cases. Legislation is, after all, a form of government intervention.

Apart from that, the EU Commission is not a government of a country - the EU is not a state or nation in any sense. It is 'a supranational and intergovernmental union of 25 independent, democratic member states' - to quote http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EU [wikipedia.org]

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (2, Insightful)

xoyoyo (949672) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965100)

Explain to me again how a completely unfettered free market prevents the formation of monopolies? I think I missed that part of economics. A free market permits monopolies, but does not necessarily regard that to be a bad thing.

Also, there is no difference between software, a secret sauce or a fictional metal alloy so your analogy holds true; none are physical objects, all are IP.

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16965208)

The documents cover protocols and file formats that are necessary for other software to support for interoperability. It's not a "secret sauce" in terms of being a particularly good way of implementing things (there certainly is nothing revolutionary about Microsoft's file formats or SMB, in fact they are in many ways inferior to alternatives), it's more like using non-standard plugs for connecting devices together...

Additionally, your faith in free markets (and references to fiction - arguably bad and unrealistic fiction) seems a bit too strong.

The problem with free markets and monopolies, or even non-monopolies that are sufficiently successful, is that the more successful a company is, the more money and power they have, and the more they can use their power and established market position to establish a significant barrier of entry for potential competitors, rather than competing on merit, quality, service, aesthetics, price or other factors that should be the deciding factors in an even playinig field.

You can argue that on the very long term, this doesn't pay off, and a company with such an attitude will fail, but I'm pretty sure that in terms of product merit, a barely good enough product + an established position is sufficient to hold power for a very long time. IMHO on a level playing field, Microsoft would've fallen back when it took them until the third generation of PCs capable of such things before giving regular consumers a 32-bit, pre-emptively mulitasking operating system (it could've been done on a 386, but by the time Win95 came out, people were using Pentiums...).

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965246)

Secret sauce? That's thousand island dressing.

Classic monopolistic behaviour (3, Insightful)

PeterBrett (780946) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965288)

I guess that's what being a "monopoly" is then -- when it's no longer in your self-interests to "play nice" with others.

Heh, I had a compulsory business economics lecture this morning -- ooh lookey, a chance to show off my mad economikz skillz.

In a normal competitive or semi-competitive market, firms try to maximise their profit by following the supply and demand curve. The cost for a firm to enter or leave a market is negligible, and consumers will always go for the best product at the lowest price (i.e. the optimal price/quality point). This is the optimal sort of market from almost everyones' point of view the best product will always win, and it turns out that this is a really good thing for the economy.

Let's assume that to start off with, the market for audio player software is a perfect competitive market. All media files are stored in an easy to implement format (e.g. MP3 or WAV) and so one audio player can easily be replaced by another.

Now, Microsoft decides to enter the market. They realise that they can get a huge install base by bundling their audio software with their operating system (which is more or less a monopoly product). This is an attempt to gain a monopoly in one market by leveraging a monopoly in another, which is illegal in some places such as the USA and EU. They then decide to reduce the contestability of the market by making their audio software default to creating files which competing firms' software cannot read without a license from Microsoft.

There are many more examles of Microsoft doing (or attempting to do) this.

  • Operating system -> media player -> portable media player/online music store -> reinforce operating system
  • Operating system -> office suite -> mail/database server software -> reinforces operating system
  • Operating system -> web browser -> online news/shopping/weather/search engine
  • Operating system -> instant messenger

All involve deliberate breakage of interoperability and backwards compatibility by either undocumented protocols/file formats or perversion of existing standards for them.

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16964898)

So, you say, the EU wants to increase other companies' competition *against* Windows, by giving them access to Windows documentation?

That doesn't *increase* competition, it encourages people to *keep using* Windows, because more software will be available for it! So in effect this puts others like Apple or Linux, that maybe voluntarily disclosed documentation/information, at a disadvantage, because it forces MS to do the same nice things for its developers.

*Sigh*

(European ex-Windows, ex-Linux, ex-BSD, Mac user here)

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964912)

In other words, the EU is against monopolies and large companies locking customers in their line of products and services. Is that so hard to understand?

Great. When are they going to do something about DeBeers, then?

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16965048)

DeBeers is a South African company!

What are the EU supposed to do about it? Invade SA?

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965064)

In other words, the EU is against monopolies and large companies locking customers in their line of products and services. Is that so hard to understand?
Great. When are they going to do something about DeBeers, then?

The problem is, anti-trust commission is part of legislative branch. It cannot start case from ground zero - it needs a complain from customers or competitors.

I'm sure if somebody would complain, EC would investigate. But again, monopoly of DeBeers prevents others from even thinking entering the market - so no competitors exists and nobody can complain from the side. On other - customers' side - few would risk alienating DeBeers first and second even fewer can provide quotes from rare DeBeers competitors.

Diamond market urgently needs disgruntled customer like Torwalds with its Linux or would-be competitor Novell with its DR-DOS and WordPerfect ;-)

P.S. Yeah, post is wrong. It should be "497M and 280M". Let me repeat: "497M and 280M"... A-ah. Sweet. M$ was forced to pay... Cooool. Let me repeat again: "497M and 280M". M$ has to fork out "497M and 280M"... Good. Very good. ;-)

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (1)

herve_masson (104332) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965014)

Microsoft refused and was fined a lot of money. Microsoft said it was going to comply, then delivered the required documentation. End of story.

End of the story ? Hm, they already sent thousands pages of useless documentation back in 2005, which was rejected by EU after analyzed by a group of experts. I have this strange feeling that those 8,5k pages will not correspond to what EU is looking for...

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (2, Interesting)

jbertling1960 (982188) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965016)

Given Microsoft's history of denial, avoidance, and outright dishonesty, stating "Microsoft said it was going to comply, then delivered the required documentation. End of story." strikes me as a little naive.

I believe that before this story ends we will have to judge the quality and accuracy of the documentation as well as Microsoft's willingness to keep it up to date.

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (1)

carterhawk001 (681941) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965030)

But it isnt microsoft that forces anyone into anything. Its the companies making software exclusively for Windows OS that do that.

Your non-sequitors trump my "troll" (0)

Petersko (564140) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965210)

You obviously have no idea what you are talking about

That funny, considering the fact that your reply had nothing to do with my post. I commented on the EU's handling of the fine process and how they've treated the information they've already been given in the past.

Your post never really discussed my post, other than to make some incorrect assessments of my position on the validity of the EU's original claims, which I never once mentioned.

You even got the events wrong.

So your string of unrelated crap gets +5 informative, and I get -1 troll.

Re:Nobody To Cheer For (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16965256)

Having governments intrude into areas they have no business is a Bad Thing. Especially when they start extorting money. Now, the documentation might be nice, but it'd be better if Microsoft had refused to give in to this nonsense.

Beyond that, Microsoft does not have a monopoly. The only people locked into it are those that lock themselves in. Note the migrations to OSS in many parts of Europe.

Happy Thanksgiving indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16964626)

Now it truly is a Happy Thanksgiving. 8500 pages.... They seem to be hoping that it takes a year or two to read through all of that.

fines of 497 and 280 ? I bet MS is shaking... (-1, Redundant)

fantomas (94850) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964628)

Wow. That's something like the price of two or three MS Office licences. I bet Bill is shaking in his boots.... :-) ... maybe the editors missed "million" in the headline?

Re:fines of 497 and 280 ? I bet MS is shaking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16965236)

What kind of dumbass doesn't assume those numbers meant millions?

497 and 280 euro? (0, Redundant)

lbbros (900904) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964638)

Rather cheap for being a fine!

(note to /. editors: I think you forgot an "M" after those)

where? (4, Interesting)

convolvatron (176505) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964642)

does anyone know where to actually get the specs?

Re:where? (1)

Mixel (723232) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965186)

I would be disappointed if they only went to Microsoft's competitors. I'd be sure to skim through some of them, if they do become generally available.

Format ? (5, Funny)

Rastignac (1014569) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964652)

They gave ".doc" documents, don't they ? ;)

Re:Format ? (2, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964726)

I wonder - if they "show edits" will there be proprietary stuff Microsoft still tried to kept hidden, revealed? Will there be comments like "Fucking Euros, there goes our monopoly" or comments like "let's give them this info, that's okay, we'll just push patents through and then sue whoever actually tries to implement according to these specs" -- THAT would be amusing.

Oh dear. RE Formats. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965272)

I wonder - if they "show edits" will there be proprietary stuff Microsoft still tried to kept hidden, revealed?

Ah what bloat will do to you. At 8,500 pages it probably took up the better part of a DVD. On closer inspection, you might find that Steve Balmer accidentally attached his whole Outlook file. Lots of "fucking" and "killing" there. Hoist by their own dogfood.

Then there might also be the usual M$ inside jokes and "Easter Eggs." An example would be a movie of the whole Redmond staff mooning you if you hold down the control and shift key while mousing over the section on SAMBA. Then there's the old M$ pilot game used by people training for the WTC, which will be modified with a Brussels city scape. It's still an official part of Excel. They may or may not have cleaned up the Thesaurus entry which contained, "Unable to read a manual" for "impotent." Now it's "Needs a manual we never wrote."

Re:Format ? (2, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964730)

They gave ".doc" documents, don't they ? ;)

Which required opening and resaving in Open Office before they'd work in Office 2003...

Re:Format ? (5, Funny)

ditoa (952847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965084)

Actually they gave them in .docx format thereby forcing the EU to upgrade to Office 2007.

Encrypted DVDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16965270)

In fact, Microsoft succeeded in imposing on the EU DG Comp an encrypted-DVD ROM format which I understand runs only on Windows. In addition, it seems MS required a clickthrough EULA which thoroughly annoyed the Commission officers and the Monitoring Trustee. As Microsoft's game is to delay as much as possible (see EU statement at http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?refe rence=MEMO/06/445&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&g uiLanguage=en [europa.eu] ), the time spent negotiating the "security" of the pile of electronic "documents" has served them well (the fines aside) while awaiting the Court of First Instance appeal decision awaited between now and April.

How do you get this documentation (5, Interesting)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964684)

Is it to be made publically available or do you have to request it from the commission?

Re:How do you get this documentation (5, Insightful)

szo (7842) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964736)

And what license will it be under?

Re:How do you get this documentation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16965298)

The Gates Public License?

8500 pages (4, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964692)

According to Microsoft, the documentation is over 8500 pages.

Microsoft were then fined another 5 Million Euros for photocopying and stapling charges because the EU needed more copies...

Re:8500 pages (3, Interesting)

Lex-Man82 (994679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964732)

I wonder if its possible to fund the whole of the EU on fines from large corporations?

Re:8500 pages (1)

JohnnyBigodes (609498) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964810)

No. This fine, all by itself, is pocket money for Microsoft, and peanuts for something the size of EU. Obviously, it's a lot of cash, but it has to be put into perspective.

Re:8500 pages (4, Informative)

stupid_is (716292) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964868)

No [wikipedia.org] . Apparently they need €862Bn for the next 6 years (about €135Bn per year). They'd need to get this level of fine revenue every day to achieve this (or at least just under €400M per day). :-)

That EU Press Release (3, Informative)

giafly (926567) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964704)

Another Microsoft *evil* tactic? (1)

suds (6610) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964774)

I personally would stay away from that documentation unless it is in some form of open documentation licenses.
What is going to stop Microsoft coming back a year or two later and sue every competitor for patent infringement because they produced their products by reading this documentation?

Beware.

Re:Another Microsoft *evil* tactic? (4, Insightful)

stewwy (687854) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964846)

the lack of software pattents in the EU

Re:That EU Press Release (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16965198)

From parents link:

Where does the money go?

The penalty payment is paid into the EU Budget. It does not increase the Budget, but reduces the contribution from Member States. The fines therefore reduce the overall tax burden on individuals.

So instead of me paying the Microsoft tax, Microsoft is paying part of my tax? The system works!

The question still remains... (4, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964712)

The question still remains...Are these documents up to date? Or if they are at the time they were handed over, will they remain up to date in a perpetual manner? Microsoft could submit "up to date" documents and later change interoperability metrics of what these docs represent. They have done something similar before.

Open Standards (2, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964906)

Indeed. Requiring Microsoft to submit this documentation, while helpful, isn't a full solution to the root problem. The root problem is that Microsoft implements proprietary formats, protocols, and APIs in the first place, and that so many people rely on these.

IMO, it would be better to mandate the use of open standards inside the EU government. This is (1) less heavy-handed than imposing a fine, (2) ensures the details of formats, protocols and APIs used by the EU are publicly available, (3) allows anyone to implement these formats, protocols, and APIs, and (4) requires anyone who wants to sell software to the EU to support them. It also gives parties other than the government the option to use these open standards, or proprietary alternatives, as they see fit.

Re:Open Standards (2, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964932)

Of course, if the EU gov't mandated open standards, rather than imposed fines on Microsoft, they wouldn't get to pocket said fines...

Re:Open Standards (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964950)

But Microsoft will then argue that mandating the usage of formats and specifications other than those of their choice "limits innovation." Agree?

Up to Date. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965312)

Microsoft could submit "up to date" documents and later change interoperability metrics of what these docs represent. They have done something similar before.

When you consider that it was 2004 when they were asked to present this document, you can say they have yet to even pretend to co-operate. It's possible that they will document 2003 software, which they have worked over and are about to replaced entirely.

The only way to win the M$ game is not to play.

Microsoft Hands Over Docs to EU (5, Funny)

tttonyyy (726776) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964766)

...in Office 2007 format, forcing the commission to buy a licence to read them?

Oh, that'd be so funny. :)

Another question remains (0, Troll)

Teresh (911815) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964768)

How many babies will Samba developers need to kill to be able to implement ActiveDirectory properly?

Prediction... (2, Funny)

JohnnyBigodes (609498) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964784)

<stormtrooper_voice>

"These are not the docs we are looking for"

</stormtrooper_voice>

The 2nd page of the document says... (5, Funny)

rjdegraaf (712353) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964824)

'This page intentionally left blank.'

Another obvious question (1)

Teresh (911815) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964834)

Will the documents be usable outside the EU? The EU may allow Mac and Linux developers documentation, but that documentation may have the status of trade secret in the US.

So Microsoft has given documentation... Can they actually be implemented legally worldwide?

Re:Another obvious question (3, Interesting)

Lex-Man82 (994679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964928)

Will the documents be usable outside the EU? The EU may allow Mac and Linux developers documentation, but that documentation may have the status of trade secret in the US.

I presume the EU will just fine Microsoft more for stifling competition if they tried to pull a stunt like that.

Re:Another obvious question (1)

gwayne (306174) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965006)

Given that a lot of OSS projects are contributed to/maintained by EU developers, it's only a matter of time before those interfaces become mainstream in the U.S.

Zeroes (3, Funny)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964840)

``fines of € 497 and € 280''

Look, I don't know what they teach kids in schools these days, but just because a lone 0 is nothing doesn't mean you can just go and leave out zeroes whenever you like.

What the documents contain: a sneak preview (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16964876)

All work and no play makes Steve a dull boy. All work and no play makes Steve a dull boy. All work and no play makes Steve a dull boy...

8500 pages huh? (1)

present_arms (848116) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964920)

that would be 8450 pages of "this page is left intentionally blank"

LOL, typical fucking Microsoft (1)

James A. V. Joyce (798462) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964972)

Waiting until the last possible moment before the deadline to hand over the docs. Which are no doubt horrendously incomplete and out-of-date...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

torrent? (5, Funny)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 7 years ago | (#16964982)

According to Microsoft, the documentation is over 8500 pages.

Anyone have a link to the torrent?

How to get them (5, Informative)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965060)

For those of you asking how to get the documents: they're not available free of charge. Microsoft has handed over documents for checking, and has explained how it wants to license them.

The EU is going to decide three things: whether the documents satisfy their requirements, whether the price is reasonable (based on Microsoft's original contribution instead of their monopoly position), and whether the proposed license is reasonable.

If they decide this will do, then Microsoft has to make the documentation available for people wanting to buy it under those license terms for that price; if they decide against, then Microsoft still hasn't complied and will get more fines.

It never was about documentation available without strings attached, that would be too unreasonable.

See the Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] : The Commission's decision, it recalled, required Microsoft to "disclose and license complete and accurate interface documentation [...] and Microsoft could face further fines if the Commission finds that the price was based on Microsoft's exercise of monopoly power, rather than on the originality of its product.

Re:How to get them (4, Interesting)

KokorHekkus (986906) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965200)

The EU is going to decide three things: whether the documents satisfy their requirements...
And for those who wonder if EU is competent to judge wether the documents are appropriate it should be pointed out that the expert that will look at the documents was picked from a shortlist that Microsoft themselves submitted.

Re:How to get them (5, Interesting)

Daddy_was_a_donkey (857723) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965294)

That's been one of the funniest things about the whole dispute; Microsoft list, EU pick, expert said Microsoft's docs where shite, Microsoft "attack Mr. Barrett's competence and accuse him of colluding with its rivals". Marvelous
Previous slashdot article [slashdot.org]

Go to Jail, go *directly* to jail, do not pass go (4, Funny)

SEMW (967629) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965184)

It's not just big companies, this monopoly poroblem. I remember on my most recent trip to Europe, I tried to pay for something with fake money from a board game. I was arrested and charged with abusing my Monopoly...

My sentence was to be sent to jail, sent directly to jail, not to pass go, not to collect 200Million...

Bullshit (-1, Troll)

bugbu (1030962) | more than 7 years ago | (#16965286)

EU just want to thwart competition by punishing US companies-- it's like some stupid kind of import tax. If people don't like MS, just don't buy its software. I personally think the quality of MS software has been constantly dropping and I don't use MS a lot more. But that doesn't mean I support this kind of irrational actions by government. As a long time windows application developer I can say that there is so much in the OS that even 8 million pages would not be enough, and such document is a total waste of man power to put together, and to read as well.

What would be interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16965302)

"screw you guys, I'm going home".

I'd like to see Microsoft just stop selling any products to the EU. Then they would not be in violation.

That'd be interesting.

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