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Microsoft Finally Bows to EU Antitrust Measures 365

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the thats-a-lot-of-cash dept.
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 Finally Bows to EU Antitrust Measures

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:13AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by clickety6 (141178)
      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: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        "has falled"

        Is that you, George?
      • Yet another reason investors should not be buying Microsoft stock.
    • by hankwang (413283) * on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:37AM (#21071351) Homepage

      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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by legirons (809082)
      But can Samba (Microsoft's only competitor here) use the information?

      http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20071022114731199 [groklaw.net]

      Not if you don't want to be paying Microsoft for each copy
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:13AM (#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.

  • by Corporate Troll (537873) on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:15AM (#21071153) Homepage Journal
    ... but I work on the 5th floor....
  • by mrjb (547783) on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:15AM (#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.
  • This is Great! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated AT ema DOT il> on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:15AM (#21071157) Journal

    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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by b4stard (893180)
      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by arivanov (12034)
      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 Evoluti
      • by MrCrassic (994046)

        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??

        • 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 eac

      • Re:This is Great! (Score:5, Informative)

        by jabuzz (182671) on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:51AM (#21071511) Homepage
        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.
      • Re:This is Great! (Score:5, Informative)

        by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Monday October 22, 2007 @10:37AM (#21072009) Homepage Journal

        All newer Microsoft clients are aiming to switch from this original RPC driven protocol to WebDAV through OWA.
        This doesn't help. Most open source people are looking to replace Exchange, not Outlook. The truly enlightened will replace both sides, but realistically we need to fully support Outlook as a "legacy client" until then. Outlook does not use the WebDAV based protocol. It uses the crufty old RPC protocol. This means that any server project that wants to speak to Outlook in its native protocol has to figure out how to get the RPC stuff running.

        Interoperability between Outlook and non-Exchange servers typically happens with client-side connectors that attach to MAPI (which is not a protocol; it's the API that Outlook uses to talk to stores and transports). Bynari has a pretty good one that uses their IMAP server, but it still saves calendar and address book data in Microsoft's proprietary TNEF format on the server. The good news is that an improved version is currently in late beta that will work with servers like Citadel [citadel.org] storing calendars in iCalendar format and address books in vCard format.
    • Don't get too cozy (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "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 wer
  • any takers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shortscruffydave (638529) on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:18AM (#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>

    • Only one taker (Score:5, Interesting)

      by flyingfsck (986395) on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:43AM (#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:Only one taker (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mabhatter654 (561290) on Monday October 22, 2007 @12:50PM (#21073645)
        no, Samba won't, because of this INFORMATION having any terms at all, they should not touch this with a 100 foot pole. The EU sold them out is what just happened. Samba already has BETTER documentation than Microsoft, they were advising the EU on what was necessary versus the line of BS Microsoft was trying to feed the court. Samba only needs about 50 pages of specs to make their implementation complete... this ruling could potentially open Samba up to legal problems because now M$ could claim Samba didn't buy or abide by the license.

        Microsoft WON this case by wearing down the court, the EU didn't effect a punishment that will actually hurt M$ and the ruling will be twisted in M$ favor for years to come. The EU LOST the case!!!
    • This one is easy.

      IBM or whoever will buy a copy for the Open Source projects that needs.
    • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by porkThreeWays (895269)
      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
  • not good enough (Score:5, Insightful)

    by polar red (215081) on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:19AM (#21071185)
    It's simple : we need the complete interface specifications for free, when you buy the operation system to use on your desktop.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      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 i

      • by anandsr (148302)
        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
        • 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 th

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Waffle Iron (339739)

        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.

      • by polar red (215081)
        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.
      • 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.

  • 2 questions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jonwil (467024) on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:20AM (#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 (Score:5, Informative)

      by hankwang (413283) * on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:48AM (#21071461) Homepage

      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.

      • "work group" server (Score:2, Interesting)

        by arkarumba (763047)
        Whats this emphasis on Windows "work group" server? I hope not just WfW 3.11 circa 1995 ?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by fgaliegue (1137441)
        From your text above, something quite crucial is missing imho: does this disclosure apply to past, present or future versions of Windows?

        Also, what is a "Windows work group server"? Would that be a PDC, or a simple server on a given workgroup with no domain control features whatsoever?

        And finally...

        > 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

        "For evaluation purposes
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:22AM (#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.
  • by the bluebrain (443451) on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:24AM (#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.
  • by AlXtreme (223728) on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:27AM (#21071257) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • by darthflo (1095225) on Monday October 22, 2007 @10:06AM (#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.
  • ... 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
    • by AVee (557523)
      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
  • That's it? (Score:4, Informative)

    by rsantmann (1101565) on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:32AM (#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]
    • by toQDuj (806112)
      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.
    • 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.
  • by m2943 (1140797) on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:33AM (#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.
    • by anarxia (651289) on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:44AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      $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 an
    • by Sockatume (732728)
      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 competit
  • 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 size
    • by mrjb (547783)
      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?
    • by Shados (741919)
      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
  • Place for GNU? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jhines (82154) <john@jhines.org> on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:40AM (#21071367) Homepage
    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? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AvitarX (172628) <me@@@brandywinehundred...org> on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:54AM (#21071539) Journal
      Would GNU want to spend money to encourage use of closed source software?
    • by MrNemesis (587188)
      If they do, tell me where to sign up. I'm no coder, but if I can put some of my money where my mouth is and use some disposable income to purchase the specs to help make a better groupware solution for the Linux stack then count me in. Similarly for all of th eother projects that have made my life as a Linux sysadmin so much easier.

      Get an AD or Exchange compatible replacement royalty free and any company worth its salt will consider implementing it as an emergency backup solution. Once it gets in, it's neve
  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:42AM (#21071379) Homepage
    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.

    • by Shados (741919)
      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.
    • 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.
  • is futile. (Sorry, had to.)
  • We told you so (Score:5, Informative)

    by zoobab (201383) on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:50AM (#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."
    • Re:We told you so (Score:4, Insightful)

      by boule75 (649166) on Monday October 22, 2007 @11:44AM (#21072909) Homepage
      Absolutely, mod this up !

      Nelly Kroes from the EU just declared Victory to retreat faster. Please read and link the EU press release, there (English only): http://www.europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1567&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

      - Any decisions as to wether Microsoft complies will be made by an English court, some day, with a rule probably but which one nobody knows. But - by Jove ! - those rules have just changed... More delays, more legal battles, more defeats for the good guys.
      - They have not settled about the fees... Or has Reuters more information? Or more disinformation?
      - The press release if filled with patent-talk (with consequences) even while software patents are still not recognised in the EU. In this respect, this IS a full blown victory for the huge patent troll that is MSFT, because the commission plays by US-UK rule.

      Conclusion: the US corps rule the EU through proxies. It's as simple as that.

      Next: more GM food, getting rid of all those bees, enforcing all those patents on living things created long ago. "Someone patented a one-click, so I patented a gene. And _I_ earn money with it! Waaaaa!!!"
  • NDA? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jfbilodeau (931293)
    What about NDA? Could we purchase the specs and share them openly?
  • Only 10,000 euros! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Richard W.M. Jones (591125) <rich@ a n n e x i a . org> on Monday October 22, 2007 @09:56AM (#21071563) Homepage

    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.

  • "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.
  • 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.
  • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Monday October 22, 2007 @10:21AM (#21071839) Homepage
    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 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by organgtool (966989) on Monday October 22, 2007 @10:22AM (#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".
  • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Monday October 22, 2007 @10:37AM (#21072007)
    The EU didn't win, Microsoft just did. The whole point of the EU's demands was that YOU owned the computer on your desk and Microsoft should provide you the APIs necessary to connect to YOUR computer from anything else you might want. By attaching ANY LICENSE to that basic right the EU sold out. Microsoft's $600M and 3 years of stalling bought them the right to tax anybody exercising their new "rights" under this judgment. The power to tax is the power to destroy. FLOSS can't use this because Microsoft managed to get the EU to honor it's PATENTS in court which was not previously allowed. Microsoft WON the case because they can still choose who gets to pay money, they can choose terms and they can choose how to calculate percent of sales. Projects like Samba based in the EU where reverse engineering is 100% legal and patents aren't allowed have just been SOLD OUT!!
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday October 22, 2007 @12:17PM (#21073249)
    A few key excerpts of the specifications...

    Section 73.12
    Network communications will use the LikeDos63 format.

    Section 110.42
    Shared disk communications will check for the SAMBA tag. If true, return "network device driver" error.

    Section 173.01

    Packet Aw1: We don't even know what purpose this serves any more. However, one must be with every message or after 10 hours a memory leak starts.

    Packet Zzz: This puts the message reader to sleep for a few seconds. One must be sent each hour or weird problems develop. It looks like it gives the message processor time to catch up.

    Section 174.13
    Check for media windows player version 13 and WGA confirmation before sending messages. If either fails, disable the subsystem.

    etc...

Programmers do it bit by bit.

Working...