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Microsoft Finally Bows to EU Antitrust Measures

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the thats-a-lot-of-cash dept.

Microsoft 365

Rogue Pat writes "Microsoft ended three years of resistance on Monday and finally agreed to comply with a landmark 2004 antitrust decision by the European Commission. Competitors will be able to buy interface protocols for 10.000 Euro to make their software work better with Windows. Moreover, Microsoft won't appeal the 500 million Euro fine any further."

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Microsoft should have payed the fine (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21071129)

If they had started paying it initially, with the decrease of the dollar and increase of the euro, it would have saved them a lot of money.

Re:Microsoft should have payed the fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21071183)

The fine in obviously euro, it's European court you know. So it's gona hurt more and more, not less and less...

Re:Microsoft should have payed the fine (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21071309)

That's exactly what the GP was saying you in[sensitive|litterate] clod!

Re:Microsoft should have payed the fine (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071335)

Might I suggest against commenting on the literacy of others?

Re:Microsoft should have payed the fine (2, Insightful)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071235)

Well, the $ has falled roughly 15% against the Euro since then so on the initial fine of roughly 500 million euro they could have saved approximately 75 million euro by paying on time. (All figures very very approximate!) Plus the extra 280 million euro they got fined last year as well! They could have financed development of the XBox720 for that much! ;-)

Re:Microsoft should have payed the fine (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21071533)

"has falled"

Is that you, George?

Re:Microsoft should have payed the fine (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21071819)

user is havening a problem with falled dollars

Re:Microsoft should have payed the fine (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071881)

Yet another reason investors should not be buying Microsoft stock.

Re:Microsoft should have payed the fine (1)

DeepZenPill (585656) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071949)

Plus the legal fees...

Re:Microsoft should have payed the fine (5, Informative)

hankwang (413283) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071351)

If they had started paying it initially, with the decrease of the dollar and increase of the euro, it would have saved them a lot of money.

They already paid directly after the EC decision three years ago. The money was placed on a special bank account where neither the EU nor MS could touch it until the decision by the European Court.

Took long enough... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071139)

I think the saddest thing here is that it seems to take us three years to enforce a judgement against a major corporation, and even then the reporting in the media is all written as if Microsoft have kindly agreed to co-operate and not as though they've been forced to accept the judgement of a court that found they had done wrong and ordered them punished for it. If legal systems are this slow, it's no wonder people get concerned about the power of megacorps and that we see everyone from Big Software to Big Media taking some pretty major liberties with things like antitrust law.

Re:Took long enough... (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071275)

This is the EU we're taking about here, so I wouldn't exactly go nuts about this (IMO). If the EU folds before the payment is made, is it still owed?

Re:Took long enough... (2, Insightful)

PenguSven (988769) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071437)

If the EU folds before the payment is made, is it still owed?
You're kidding right? the EU is the largest economy in the world.

Re:Took long enough... (1)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071653)

And at least EU have guts to stand against MicroSoft. Government of USofA hasn't.
Plus consider it a landmark case - it's always easier to enforce any rulings if you have a precedent. Especially a precedent that prooves that a convict IS a monopolist who hasn't played fair.

I wonder what the next case is going to be. Maybe unfair pricing in OEM market? There was a case in France recently...

Re:Took long enough... (0, Redundant)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071427)

Agreed - if an individual running a business broke the law, they risk getting sent to prison. Imagine a common criminal refusing to comply with the law - you'd never hear it written up as "finally agreed to comply". The full weight of the law would come down of them, and they'd have no choice in the matter.

Maybe if bailiffs raided the assets of Microsoft European offices, or those obstructing the course of justice were charged accordingly, they might start "complying" a bit more. But no, we can't go treating big companies the same as you or I...

Re:Took long enough... (0, Offtopic)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071455)

I think the saddest thing is that people don't even question the justness of laws anymore.

If I have a secret, I don't care what the antitrust european court says, it's my secret, they shoudln't take that nor my money away for me.

Re:Took long enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21071527)

If I have a secret, I don't care what the antitrust european court says, it's my secret, they shoudln't take that nor my money away for me.

No, they shouldn't and they won't, because you, unlike MS, are not a convicted monopolist using your monopoly to illegally prevent competition. So you don't need to worry.

Re:Took long enough... (1, Insightful)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071571)

in many cases you would be right, but in this case that secret is important information that is holding back anyone else from being able to compete fairly with Microsoft on the dominant platform, which Microsoft also control.

It is analogous to making and selling the only car most people use, but refusing to tell anyone else how to make the best petrol for it, so no-one buys petrol from the competition, or if they do its not as good. Sooner or later someone is going to start complaining of monopoly.

No-one is asking Microsoft to hand over all their secrets, and no-one is asking that they do so for no money. All that is required is that they not abuse their dominant position.

Re:Took long enough... (4, Insightful)

mgblst (80109) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071697)

If I have a secret, I don't care what the antitrust european court says, it's my secret, they shoudln't take that nor my money away for me.

If you are in the US, then this is damn hilarious. The US, where toture has become accepted practice to obtain secrets.

Microsoft can keep there secrets, but it is going to cost them. They are free to get up and leave Europe, I am sure we will do fine. The simple fact is, that if they did that, then a huge amount of effort would be put into getting Linux as a perfect replacement. This would weaken Micrsofts stronghold on the rest of the world as well.

Re:Took long enough... (1, Insightful)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071705)

Fine if you want to keep it a secret, stay out of the EU. Nobody is forcing you to start a business.

Re:Took long enough... (1, Insightful)

gmack (197796) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071889)

If I have a secret, I don't care what the antitrust european court says, it's my secret, they shoudln't take that nor my money away for me.

Except that there is no justifiable reason for keeping it a secret since pretty much all of their "secrets" were proprietary extensions based on already known protocols. In fact, some of those protocols were items Microsoft pushed onto the standards track themselves so they have no excuse really.

I heard oink-oink outside of my window... (5, Funny)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071153)

... but I work on the 5th floor....

Re:I heard oink-oink outside of my window... (1, Insightful)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071611)

Mods never heard of the expression "When Pigs Fly", right? [wikipedia.org]

Re:I heard oink-oink outside of my window... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21071829)

I just don't think any of the mods got the joke, and if you'd studied your floyd properly you'd know that pigs could fly.

Re:I heard oink-oink outside of my window... (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071967)

It's your user name. It's really throwing people off. Maybe if you changed it to "Corporate Funny" you'd get modded up.

Paid for the dinner (4, Funny)

mrjb (547783) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071155)

Kroes personally negotiated with Microsoft President Steve Ballmer in a number of conversations including over a meal at a restaurant near her home town of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, she said.

"I paid for the dinner," she said.

If they had their dinner where I think they had their dinner, that should nearly cover the fine.

Re:Paid for the dinner (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071251)

I know we are meant ot live in an equal world, but damn Ballmer is not a gentleman.

Mind you, his mindset will have been "if they are having 500 mill from us they can pay for the meal"

Re:Paid for the dinner (4, Insightful)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071325)

No, it's most probably because Microsoft paying for the meal could be interpreted as bribery.

Re:Paid for the dinner (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071395)

Mind you, his mindset will have been "if they are having 500 mill from us they can pay for the meal"
When did Ballmer develop a russian accent? Or is it something he does to try to woo the ladies while they pay for dinner?

Re:Paid for the dinner (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071531)

When did Ballmer develop a russian accent? Or is it something he does to try to woo the ladies while they pay for dinner?

Considering the standard Microsoft tactic of Extinquishing after Embracing, I find the thought of Ballmer wooing anyone a bit disturbing.

Re:Paid for the dinner (5, Funny)

Hanners1979 (959741) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071409)

"Waiter, there's a chair in my soup..."

Re:Paid for the dinner (1)

ZiggyStardust1984 (1099525) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071719)

What did they smoke for the dinner? Did they went to those nice duthc cafes to talk while having some marijuana cake?

Re:Paid for the dinner (5, Funny)

mgblst (80109) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071751)

What I want to know, is did she pay for the dinner, or did the EU pay for the dinner? I find it hard to believe that she coughed up for it.

And I would recommend a Japanese restaurant for dinner with Steve...you know, where they sit on the floor. Less dangerous that way.

This is Great! (4, Interesting)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071157)

Maybe we can finally see some competitive open-source software platforms, like a better Evolution client (full Exchange capability, maybe?) or a better OpenOffice.org?

Re:This is Great! (2, Insightful)

b4stard (893180) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071259)

Unless the specs are coupled with NDA's. If so, not many FOSS-devs will be able to pay up the 10k. Guessing the big guys (Ibm, Sun, et al) will help us out though.

Re:This is Great! (3, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071311)

Full exchange capability currently does not depend on Microsoft mercy at all.

The old exchange protocol which was nearly impossible to emulate is on its way out for a number of reasons. All newer Microsoft clients are aiming to switch from this original RPC driven protocol to WebDAV through OWA. The protocol is reasonably well documented. The parts that are not have been reverse engineered long ago. This is the "native" protocol of the current Evolution connector and the problems with it are entirely Evolution's fault.

Namely, Evolution is written in an illiterate manner from a software engineering perspective. It is a hacked together piece of bugware where most of the major components do not have proper state machines. Just look at the "new mail" notifications - they are a total joke, wrong 20% of the time.

I looked it at one point (and at least one other open source implementation. IIRC, WebDAV/OWA requires a very strict implementation of a state machine in order not to f*** it up. This is not impossible. Other opensource (fetchExc) and non-opensource projects manage to do that. Evolution should not try to blame Microsoft for failing to do that (I use it to get mail off exchange and send but I do not dare keeping it there while using it).

Re:This is Great! (1)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071371)

Thanks for the reply.

I'm just curious; why was the old Exchange implementation very hard to reproduce in other software? Isn't RPC still used to this today (included as used actively in Outlook 2007)? I know that their Entourage software uses WebDAV, but I thought that RPC was still being developed actively, which, if reverse-engineered, would solve Exchange incompatibility issues??

Re:This is Great! (1)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071645)

I'm just curious; why was the old Exchange implementation very hard to reproduce in other software? Isn't RPC still used to this today (included as used actively in Outlook 2007)?

It isn't hard particularly. Microsoft use an only slightly modified DCE/RPC [wikipedia.org] . SambaTNG and now Samba include the tools you need to read and write this "MSRPC".

The problems are: (a) The protocols have huge numbers of calls, making it impractical to implement every one, so you have to implement the ones that are used (but each app uses different ones). (b) You have to emulate all the bugs in Microsoft's implementation, because the MS implementation is the "standard", bugs and all. (c) You have to map Microsoft concepts like users, ACLs, threads etc. into Unix ones, and there's not a very natural mapping.

Rich.

Re:This is Great! (4, Informative)

jabuzz (182671) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071511)

Er, WebDAV access to Exchange is deemphasized in Exchange 2007, and is replaced with Exchange Web Services and MAPI remains the primary method for access data stores on Exchange servers.

Thing is that curtesy of the Openchange project which is building on top of the IDL stuff from Samba the Exchange MAPI protocols are being fairly rapidly reverse engineered. At which point the prescence or absence of any documentation from Microsoft will be irrelevant. In fact the OpenChange documentation is probably useful in that it won't cost 10,000 Euro and come with strings attached.

Don't get too cozy (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21071677)

"Look Ma! The ferocious mountain lion is really a big kitten!"

Perhaps. What worries me is that Microsoft recently vowed to start buying open source [slashdot.org] companies. Most of the work on standards based collaboration software and related technology that I'm aware of (e.g. Chandler [chandlerproject.org] , Bedework [bedework.org] , etc.) (exception: Apple's iCal server [apple.com] ) is done by a few small tight groups. Are any of them going to withstand millions of dollars in cash for the sake of principle? I'm a die-hard F/OSS advocate myself, but if someone were to offer me a few million to abdicate my principles; money I could use toward my children's education and otherwise bettering my family's life - well, that would be a hard pill to swallow. I have other principles too, like maintaining my marriage for example.

I really hope a large corporation that buys the F/OSS vision (Are you listening SUN?) steps in to preempt such a hostile maneuver. If they do, everyone wins. I'd take a million dollars from SUN before taking 50 million from Microsoft any day; and I bet most F/OSS developers feel the same way. If the big players sit on their hands, we all lose, as there will never be an answer to Microsoft's dominant collaboration suite.

You can have a better OS, but you really need to hit all of the important application targets in order to present customers with a viable alternative to Microsoft hegemony.

It's not just the collaboration suites we should be worried about, BTW. Microsoft could buy UNIX IP as well (SCO is dead, but Novell is alive and well, and already getting cozy). The big F/OSS players better get their ducks in a row fast, or MS may very well soon act to back up their empty bluster with real products, real patents, and real lawsuits.

any takers (5, Interesting)

shortscruffydave (638529) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071175)

<NotFlameBait>

The courts have made Microsoft make those protocols available. It will be interesting to see how many people actually pony up to buy those protocol specs - in part, that would be a measure of how valid the EU's judgement was.

</NotFlameBait>

Re:any takers (0)

Magada (741361) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071207)

i have mod points, but I don't know how to use them in your case, so I'll just comment: your post would require a +1 Commonsensical mod.

Re:any takers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21071515)

Shouldn't that be "-1 Commonsensical"?

Only one taker (5, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071389)

The Samba project will likely buy a copy. Everyone else will simply use Samba then as before. I don't think MS will recover their fine from selling that specification.

Re:any takers (1)

terminal.dk (102718) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071413)

This one is easy.

IBM or whoever will buy a copy for the Open Source projects that needs.

Re:any takers (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071661)

It will be interesting to see how many people actually pony up to buy those protocol specs - in part, that would be a measure of how valid the EU's judgement was.

3 years is a little late. In that time competitors have entered the marketplace. You can pay lots to use the Microsoft Portocols or use the Linux Protocols for free. Open Office works fine on Ubuntu.

Re:any takers (2, Insightful)

porkThreeWays (895269) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071905)

I see a lot of comments it will be open source projects or open source project backers. I reeeeeeally don't think they will be the largest purchasers. Many people don't realize how many software companies have products that modify the behavior of MS products. There have to be at least thousands. Think of all the products that do file system operations. All the products that work with Outlook and Exchange. All the products that work with Office. Anti virus/malware programs. Pretty much any program that is in any way, shape, or form, dependent on how an MS product does things will probably want to purchase specs.

not good enough (5, Insightful)

polar red (215081) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071185)

It's simple : we need the complete interface specifications for free, when you buy the operation system to use on your desktop.

Re:not good enough (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071263)

It's not that simple at all. Providing the complete interface spec completely free of charge imposes a huge (some might say unrealistic, even) burden on businesses. How would you feel if distribution were prohibited for every open source application that didn't provide and maintain comprehensive, correct documentation on all their interfaces and protocols? (If anyone is about to argue that open source is a moving target and such a prohibition could never work in practice, they're ducking the legal/ethical issue. If this is the case, then it's hardly fair to impose legal restrictions on businesses that not everyone is obliged to follow, since this artificially harms the ability of the businesses to do their work.)

Requiring a businesses with a monopoly advantage to provide access to such interface documentation as they have themselves internally, at no more than a reasonable charge to cover the legitimate costs of supplying that information, for the purposes of allowing interoperability, is one thing. Requiring them to provide complete specs, at no charge at all, to anyone who asks for any reason, is something else entirely.

Re:not good enough (1)

anandsr (148302) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071551)

Its only a one time cost anyway. As the interface documents can be provided along with the software on the CD. Open Source software generally comes along with the interface document, the code itself. You cannot beat it, with documents. In my opinion there should be a monopoly tax a hefty one for a company that does not provide all interfaces. Basically a monopoly already has enough benefits from economies of scale that it shouldn't have the benefit of thwarting competition. A non-monopoly should be able to thwart competition, to survive or kill itself due to too much such anti-consumer measures. Being a monopoly means that the consumer has no choice, which means that competitors need all help to create choice. This requires preventing anti-competitive measures like preventing inter-working solution from third parties.

Code is not interface documentation (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071843)

Open Source software generally comes along with the interface document, the code itself.

I'm both surprised and disappointed that within a few minutes of my post, three people have all challenged it on this basis.

Just dumping the whole code base is in no way an acceptable substitute for providing good interface documentation. Sure, code should be self-documenting by using appropriate names in interfaces. Sure, designs should be clean and easy to understand. But the goal of this ruling is to facilitate interoperability in the spirit of the law. It is unreasonable to require people to scan through all the implementation code for something just to find out how the interface works and use it. That's not documenting the interface to aid interoperability, it's obfuscating it to make the effort required for compatibility prohibitive. So if the replies I'm getting are anything to go by, it sounds like a lot of work would be required for your average OSS project to comply with this ruling. If it's unfair to expect it of them, why is it fair to expect it of a business?

I'm no big fan of Microsoft in this case — read my first post to the discussion if you're in any doubt about that — but I do think that any penalty awarded by the courts has to be reasonable. You can't use a requirement that a monopoly allow interoperability as an excuse to get access to all their source code and trade secrets. That isn't fair, even on Microsoft, and it certainly wouldn't be fair on the many smaller companies in niche markets who might be subject to the same ruling once the precedent is set.

Re:not good enough (1, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071575)

How would you feel if distribution were prohibited for every open source application that didn't provide and maintain comprehensive, correct documentation on all their interfaces and protocols?

It's called the source code.

If Microsoft were to simply post their source code up on their website, nobody would be asking them to write this "burdensome" documentation.

Re:not good enough (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071605)

Requiring them to provide complete specs
there's a difference between complete specs and revealing all secret doors. besides, your example is fundamentally broken : the source accompanying your open-source project contains all relevant information.

Re:not good enough (1)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071635)

Requiring a businesses with a monopoly advantage to provide access to such interface documentation as they have themselves internally, at no more than a reasonable charge to cover the legitimate costs of supplying that information, for the purposes of allowing interoperability, is one thing. Requiring them to provide complete specs, at no charge at all, to anyone who asks for any reason, is something else entirely.
Oh, and that is why the GPL completely fails to work, which requires every distributor to provide full source code to any user who wants it, monopoly advantage or not. Oh wait, the GPL works just fine. So Microsoft, with several tens of billions of dollars to its advantage, ought to be able to muddle through somehow, hmm, don't you think?

Actually, I would say you missed the point by a wide margin. The point is, those who need the specs can get them. Which amounts to a handful of CIFS developers.

Re:not good enough (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21071747)

'How would you feel if distribution were prohibited for every open source application that didn't provide and maintain comprehensive, correct documentation on all their interfaces and protocols?'

All open source applications already do that - it's called the source code.

Re:not good enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21071623)

Baloney.

Darkside (0)

packetmon (977047) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071197)

Moreover, Microsoft won't appeal the 500 million Euro fine any further.... In today's news, Microsoft has launched an ambitious political campaign in Europe lobbying the EU's top politicians. A Microsoft spokesman speaking on the condition of anonymity stated "Next time around, we'll make sure we buy them too" alluding to the methods in which some speculate MS has "bought" politicians in America. "If Google takes over the world, where would we be. We're saving the world from Google, nothing more nothing less" stated the MS spokesman.

2 questions (5, Interesting)

jonwil (467024) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071199)

1.What exactly does this cover? Which network protocols? Which data formats?
and 2.Does the license exclude OSS/GPL or have Microsoft finally been forced into allowing GPL software to use its "secret sauce"?

Re:2 questions (4, Informative)

hankwang (413283) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071461)

1.What exactly does this cover? Which network protocols? Which data formats?

See the EC ruling [europa.eu] (PDF), especially article 999 on page 277:

(999) Microsoft should be ordered to disclose complete and accurate specifications for the protocols used by Windows work group servers in order to provide file, print and group and user administration services to Windows work group networks. This includes both direct interconnection and interaction between a Windows work group server and a Windows client PC, as well as interconnection and interaction between a Windows work group server and a Windows client PC that is indirect and passes through another Windows work group server. The use of the term specifications makes clear that Microsoft should not be required to disclose its own implementation of these specifications, that is to say, its own source code. The term protocol relates to the rules of interconnection and interaction between instances of the Windows client PC operating system and the Windows work group server operating system.

Also interesting:

(1008) The requirement for the terms imposed by Microsoft to be reasonable and non- discriminatory applies in particular: [...] there is a need to ensure that potential beneficiaries will have the opportunity to review, themselves or through third parties designated by them, the specifications to be disclosed; Microsoft should be able to impose reasonable and non-discriminatory conditions to ensure that this access to the disclosed specifications is granted for evaluation purposes only;
[...] to any remuneration that Microsoft might charge for supply; such a remuneration should not reflect the strategic value stemming from Microsoft s market power in the client PC operating system market or in the work group server operating system market;

The decision does not seem to give a hard number for how much MS may charge for disclosure of the specs.

Billy Dilly Gates bows down (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21071217)

It was back in '32 when times were hard
He had a Colt .45 and a deck of cards
Stagger Lee
He wore rat-drawn shoes and an old Stetson hat
Had a '28 Ford, had payments on that
Stagger Lee
His woman threw him out in the ice and the snow
And told him, "Never ever come back no more"
Stagger Lee
So he walked though the rain an he walked through the mud
Till he came to a place called The Bucket Of Blood
Stagger Lee
He said, "Mr Motherfucker, you know who I am"
And the barkeeper said, "No, I don't give a good goddamn"
To Stagger Lee
He said, "Well bartender, it's plain to see
I'm that bad motherfucker called Stagger Lee"
Mr. Stagger Lee
Barkeep said, "Yeah, I've heard your name down the way
And I kick motherfucking asses like you everyday"
Mr Stagger Lee
Well, those were the last words that the barkeep said
'Cause Stag put four holes in his motherfucking head
Just then in came a broad called Nellie Brown
Was known to make more money than any bitch in town
She struts across the bar, hitching up her skirt
Over to Stagger Lee, she starts to flirt
With Stagger Lee
She saw the barkeep, said, "O God, he can't be dead!"
Stag said, "Well just count the holes in the motherfucker's head"
She said, "You look like you ain't scored in quite a time.
Why not come to my pad? It won't cost you a dime"
Mr. Stagger Lee
"But there's something I have to say before you begin
You'll have to be gone before my man Billy Dilly comes in,
Stagger Lee"
"I'll stay here till Billy Dilly comes in, till time comes to pass
And furthermore I'll fuck Billy Dilly in his motherfucking ass"
Said Stagger Lee
"I'm a bad motherfucker, don't you know
But I'll crawl over fifty good pussies just to get one fat boy's asshole"
Said Stagger Lee
Just then Billy Dilly rolls in and said, "You must be
That bad motherfucker called Stagger Lee"
Stagger Lee
"Yeah, I'm Stagger Lee and you better get down on your knees
And suck my dick, because if you don't you're sure to be dead"
Said Stagger Lee
Billy Dilly dropped down and slobbered on his head
And Stag filled him full of lead
Oh yeah.

Dinner (0)

ddrichardson (869910) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071219)

Kroes personally negotiated with Microsoft President Steve Ballmer in a number of conversations including over a meal at a restaurant near her home town of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, she said.

"I paid for the dinner," she said.

Seems only fair, weather she was out of the range of chairs, she didn't say.

Re:Dinner (1, Offtopic)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071281)

weather

Aaaagh, how I hate that mistake: it is "whether"... Please, "weather" is the thing about sunshine and rain... *weeps*

Re:Dinner (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071577)

Unless it was raining chairs...

So still refusing to comply (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21071223)

So yet again they're still refusing to comply, they've just dropped the price and announced they're now complying when they're patently not?

This is no different to when they paid the last fine and announced they'd finally given in to the EU demands and offered the documentation at 50k with restrictive license.

So they drop the price a little, and the restrictions a little, but so what? It's the same game. The EU needs to force compliance here. Or they'll play this game forever.

Whence the chipper tone? (3, Insightful)

the bluebrain (443451) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071237)

So Microsoft simply caved, and will now co-operate fully with all comers, and will comply with the letter (if not the spirit) of the ruling?

Balls. They've just taking the fight to the next level, that's all. The expression "cold, dead hands", comes to mind, when contemplating any usable spec belonging to MS.

Re:Whence the chipper tone? (2, Interesting)

brouski (827510) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071559)

"Men, we have not yet begun to stall!"

If their doc spec is bad, how about their protocol (1)

Cryophallion (1129715) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071247)

So, their spec for OOXML calls for displaying things like office does.

Who's to say that their interface docs don't have a line somewhere that says it "connects with a share like xp does" in order to protect the code within the "blue bubble" [techliberation.com] .

I know interfaces should be relatively free of things like this, but when they take thousands of pages to lay out a document format that still isn't specific enough, I can only wonder how much they will continue to leave out of the info they give to everyone else to protect their intellectual property.

Tax Euros put to work? (4, Interesting)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071257)

So, how about the EU uses a very small portion of those fines (say, a nominal one-off payment of E 10000) to obtain these documents once and publish them for all us open source developers via a new sourceforge.net project?

I'm all for interoperability, but it's not like I'm going to pay $10000 for half-undocumented Microsoft protocols. At least a small portion of all those millions would be put to good use, instead of it all disappearing into the black hole that is the EU budget.

Re:Tax Euros put to work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21071429)

Amen!

Re:Tax Euros put to work? (4, Informative)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071683)

As if. According to TFA, there are royalties on whatever product is built using those specs and MSFT's patents, so quite probably redistribution of the spec itself won't be covered by the nominal one-off payment of 10'000. If the EU had actually required those specs to be made available for free, they would've included that in their ruling. They didn't and they aren't going to break laws just to make some OSS developers happy.

peanuts (1)

spikedvodka (188722) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071289)

... 10k Euros just to see the protocol specs... yeah right, for large corps that's chickenfeed, but for your OSS projects, that's a very good chunk o' change.

I'm to lazy to read the exact ruling, but charging 10k for it would seem to at least violate the spirit of the ruling

Re:peanuts (1)

AVee (557523) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071807)

Whether or not that actually matters depends largely on the terms that come with the documents. If they can be republished it really will be a one time fee after which the documents will end up on some public website. In that case, someone (or some group) will come up with the money and all will be well. If the documents cannot be republished there will probably be some open source lib_ms_protocols you can use in your project. (If creating that library under an OSS license is not possible MS didn't actually implement the verdict and this will go into a next round.)

That's it? (4, Informative)

rsantmann (1101565) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071303)

Microsoft makes about 50 billion USD per year.[1] That is only 1% of Microsoft's one year revenue. Anyone who thinks this is going to deter Microsoft from anti-competitive practices is badly mistaken.

[1] http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9001926 [computerworld.com]

Re:That's it? (1)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071603)

Well, it's a little more, given that you can now get 1.435 dollars per euro :). So make that about 1.4% and you'd be about right.

Re:That's it? (1)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071685)

Microsoft makes about 50 billion USD per year.[1] That is only 1% of Microsoft's one year revenue. Anyone who thinks this is going to deter Microsoft from anti-competitive practices is badly mistaken.
If I recall correctly, the EU is able to fine Microsoft up to 5% of global revenue for each product in violation of EU competition laws. A large caliber weapon by any standard. Obviously, Microsoft blinked.

Microsoft still wins (5, Insightful)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071319)

$10k is peanuts for commercial companies. It even is peanuts for open source companies. But the fact that there is any fee at all means that the information is not public, and this will likely exclude open source competitors, which is what Microsoft wants most of all.

Fortunately, there may be workarounds: people can write small binary-only Microsoft compatibility plug-ins which plug into larger open source applications that eventually can replace Microsoft's applications.

Re:Microsoft still wins (4, Insightful)

anarxia (651289) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071411)

Or write a "reference" implementation. It's no substitute for documentation but it will help those that cannot/will not buy the specification.

Re:Microsoft still wins (1)

Super_Z (756391) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071417)

From the article:

First, open source software developers will be able to access and use the interoperability information. Microsoft will not assert patents against non-commercial open source software development projects.
Which means that the information should be free for non-commercial use.

Second, the royalties payable for this information will be reduced to a nominal one-off payment of 10,000 euros.
Which IMHO should not be applicable to non-commercial use as "royalty" implies a cut of your profit.
This looks to me as a complete win for the FOSS movement.

Re:Microsoft still wins (1)

Stroot (223139) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071449)

Well, it's a start at least. What did the US do about Microsofts monopoly?

Re:Microsoft still wins (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21071503)

$10k is peanuts for commercial companies. It even is peanuts for open source companies. But the fact that there is any fee at all means that the information is not public

Well, no. E.g. You have to pay a fee for most public documents (say, court records), but you're free to redistribute them. If they're copyrighted, you can still write your own documentation/description of the information and distribute that. (Remember folks, copyright only covers the expression, not the idea itself) Take the Linux kernel and POSIX for example. Linus originally said his OS wouldn't be POSIX-compliant because he couldn't afford to pay for the spec. Today Linux is pretty much entirely POSIX-compliant, despite noone (except Linux-FT?) having ponied up the cash. This is because POSIX has been re-documented in plenty of other places.

So the pertinent question isn't really whether there's a fee or not, or even whether there's a copyright on the docs or not. The most important question in my mind, is whether the info will be available under an NDA or not.

Re:Microsoft still wins (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071921)

But the fact that there is any fee at all means that the information is not public, and this will likely exclude open source competitors, which is what Microsoft wants most of all. Well, it's not meant to be about putting Microsoft's products in the public domain, is it? If you think that the case was supposed to throw open the gates and allow free software to just sweep onto Microsoft's turf, you've misled yourself. It's about providing a reasonably level playing field for Microsoft's marketplace competitors.

right. (1)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071331)

I like the cost. "nominal one-off payment of 10,000 euros."

Nominal for large multinational corporations you means. How many open source projects will stump that?

Sure MS paid the fine, but have they succeeded in making things hard for the little developers?

Besides, fining MS is like siphoning your water from the Niagara falls - sure you get wet but you don't make a dent. I have held the view for a long time that fines for companies should be based on a percentage setting, that way firms of all sizes are hit more equally. Or maybe a formula based on size, income and percentage - there must be an improvement on current methods of setting penalties.

Re:right. (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071397)

like the cost. "nominal one-off payment of 10,000 euros."
Nominal for large multinational corporations you means. How many open source projects will stump that?
That's the least. An sufficiently popular open source project could simply raise the funds. But will they be able to use the specifications in an open implementation, or will they effectively need to sign an NDA for the specs and stay closed source?

Re:right. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21071615)

To publish source code that uses the specification is to reveal the specification itself. As far as I can tell, all that is really needed is for one of the open source companies to buy a bunch of MS specifications and give away trivial programs that make use of the MS-provided information. The trivial program might be for "non-commercial use only", but that says nothing of derived works that have no similarity to the original code.

Re:right. (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071731)

I didn't read the article, but I did read the summary (wow me), and read other stuff about it before...and the way I understand it, its for corporate competitors. Even a tiny 3 people ISV can afford the 10k euros if they need it. The only ones who can't, are projects without budgets whatsoever (and even then, some can raise that kindda funds from donation).

Its not meant to help hobbyist open source projects. I mean come on, my -hobby- development tool stack is worth almost 10k. What I use everyday for work (in a company of 6 employes currently) is worth like 20k. 10k for those specs is peanuts. And if you assume they'll support them somewhat, and give you printed documentation or something, then its a steal: not for specs in general (since a lot of alternate specs are free), but because these are specs they didn't even want you to have, and will be worth it for anyone with an actual product that wants to enhance it.

Now, don't get me wrong, I feel specs should be free when possible, but in this case, the judgment is about antithrust, so its mostly about cold hard cash and money, and Microsoft's competitors that were wronged over the years. The 10k fee is probably to keep the specs in the hands of those that were wronged, and not the general public. Its symbolic more than anything... 20k or less is "free" for anyone who's supposed to have these specs.

Place for GNU? (3, Interesting)

jhines (82154) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071367)

GNU, the organization, would seem to be a perfect fit for this, let them raise the $10K for the license on behalf of all their developers who use the information for GNU projects. This would be like looking them like a huge, widely distributed, company.

Re:Place for GNU? (3, Interesting)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071539)

Would GNU want to spend money to encourage use of closed source software?

I still don't understand .... (4, Insightful)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071379)

will we be able to use this in an OSS project ?

What restrictions come with the specification that we pay 10,000 Euros for? If there are restrictions on what we can do with the knowledge gained, then we can't use it. M$ could argue that publishing code written using their spec is the same as publishing their spec and so everyone who reads the code has to pay 10k Euros.

Until this is explained in full: we need to hold back on popping the champagne corks.

How good will the spec be? If it is anything like the OOXML one then there will still be huge holes. M$ is smart enough to only publish in the spec the bits that have been reverse engineered: this allows it to claim that it has revealed a lot without adding anything to what is known by the rest of us.

Re:I still don't understand .... (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071641)

My understanding is that these specs will be for their competitors such as IBM, Sun, etc. Open source is most likely out of luck here.

Another Misleading Summary (1)

asphaltjesus (978804) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071835)

All of the questions you ask highlight the myriad of limitations buried in this so-called settlement.

Your post should be modded interesting and the summary should be edited to include a healthy dose of scepticism.

Resistance (1)

Esion Modnar (632431) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071383)

is futile. (Sorry, had to.)

We told you so (5, Informative)

zoobab (201383) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071495)

Microsoft will trump EU competition ruling with patents Brussels, 17 September 2007 -- The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) says that Microsoft was expecting the 17 September verdict of the EU's anti-trust case, and will exploit software patents to keep its monopoly grip on the global IT market. FFII president Pieter Hintjens explains, "The decision seems positive but it is five years out of date. During that time, Microsoft has lobbied for software patents in Europe and bought patents on many trivial concepts. It has claimed patent violations against Linux, put patent timebombs into its formats and interfaces, and turned fear of patents into a core part of its business strategy. It will now open its formats, because that lets it extend its software patent franchise even further." Microsoft recently published its MCPP (Microsoft Communications Protocol Program) patent licence which requires competitors to pay royalties for each copy of software distributed. For example, a free software project making a print server would have to pay USD$8 to Microsoft for each copy downloaded. "The largest monopolist in history has faced down the largest economy in history," says Benjamin Henrion of the FFII's Brussels Office. "Microsoft will appeal, and the fines if ever paid are just a month or two of profits. Meanwhile Microsoft now has the time to crush its only real competition, the free and open source economy. We regret that the EU Commission and ECJ are blind to the real threat of software patents, while Microsoft cleverly exploits Europe's own patent system against EU businesses. This is a defeat for Europe's anti-trust, a defeat for the global economy, and I'm sure they're popping the champagne in Redmond." Background information In the proceedings of the EU antitrust trial, Microsoft states that its communication protocols are covered by at least 3 European patents or patent applications (namely patents 'EP 0661652', 'EP 0438571' and 'EP 0669020'). In addition, another 20 patent applications are pending in the United States, as are 2 in Europe (in its reply, Microsoft states that one of its two applications has since been granted, namely patent 'EP 1004193'). Moreover, Microsoft is planning to apply for 'some 130 European patents relating to Windows server operating systems'. Jeremy Allison, leader of SAMBA, the open source project file and print services for Linux/Unix servers and Windows-based clients, mentioned recently in LinuxWorld that the MCPP patent licences will make impossible for open source to use them: "We read the license, it's impossible to release open source implementations of the product. You have to keep it secret. This defeats the whole idea of open source."

NDA? (2, Insightful)

jfbilodeau (931293) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071519)

What about NDA? Could we purchase the specs and share them openly?

Only 10,000 euros! (3, Insightful)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071563)

So after years of illegally leveraging their monopoly to drive others out of business and drive up the price of software and goods, their "punishment" is to charge people even more. This "justice" things sounds great, wish I could get some of that!

Rich.

BS (1)

AlgorithMan (937244) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071649)

every patented technology is excluded
i.e. they do pretty much nothing...

To quote the borg.... (1)

8127972 (73495) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071657)

"Microsoft ended three years of resistance on Monday and finally agreed to comply with a landmark 2004 antitrust decision by the European Commission."

Resistance is futile. Sadly, it won't make a difference IMHO.

She's one brave woman. (1)

Graftweed (742763) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071809)

Kroes personally negotiated with Microsoft President Steve Ballmer in a number of conversations including over a meal at a restaurant near her home town of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, she said.
Wow, wow, what? Would this be the kind of restaurant that has a lot of, you know... *chairs* lying around?

Miss Kroes, I salute you.

Available under what conditions? (3, Interesting)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071839)

In the past when European courts and regulators have required Microsoft to document their protocols they have done so only with a licence agreement designed to exclude free software such as Samba. After you pay your ten thousand euros, are you then free to implement the specification in free software? This is the crucial point and one that the article didn't mention.

10,000 Euros (3, Interesting)

organgtool (966989) | more than 5 years ago | (#21071853)

The "10.000 euros" is "10,000 euros" for those of us in the U.S. That's right, open source has to pay about $14,263 to Microsoft in order to be able to interoperate with their software. The article doesn't mention if each open source project has to pay that fee or if the entire open source community can pay the fee once and cover all open source projects.

Even more interesting than that, though, is the fact that the article mentions Microsoft can not use its large software patent portfolio against open source projects. I'm not sure that it was ever an issue since most European countries don't recognize software patents, but that strikes down all of the FUD Microsoft have been spreading (at least for the Europeans) regarding their trusted Linux "partners".
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