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by Franki

Microsoft is in negotiations with the European Commission about their efforts to remedy their anti-competitive practises. One of those remedies is to provide server protocols that allow non-Microsoft entities to create interoperable software. Microsoft has agreed with this in theory, however the question of dollars and licenses have proven to be arguing points. In short, Microsoft doesn’t want any of the protocols they disclose to be used by their biggest competitor, Samba on Linux (Open Source).

They are on the one hand asking to meet with Open Source community leaders, and showing up at Linux events talking about how they want to work together on issues such as interoperability, while on the EU stage they are trying to deny interoperability information from the developers of the only server Operating System that offers them any significant opposition (Linux and Samba again).

This quote from Europa sums it up quite nicely.

Microsoft considers that the software source code developed by recipients of the interoperability information that implements the Microsoft protocols should not be published under a so-called “open source licence”. The Commission nevertheless considers that, if the Court of First Instance rules in favour of the Commission in the pending application for annulment filed by Microsoft (case T-201/04), this should be possible for the protocols that do not embody innovations.

Microsoft are going to get few chances for trust from the Open Source community. If they blow it at this early stage, they are not likely to get the chance again. Yes they compete against Open Source and want to keep their cards close to their chest, but trying to avoid competition by denying interoperability doesn’t hurt anyone except their own users and that is eventually going to effect their public image even more then calling Linux a cancer did. They must know that OSS isn’t going away by now, otherwise they wouldn’t deem it worthwhile to engage in dialogue with the leaders of OSS. So why make it obvious that they have no desire to interoperate with Open Source by raising the issue again in the EU anti-trust discussions? It’s enough to make me hope that OSX on Intel is for real and coming to a computer near you soon. If Microsoft lose a significant portion of their desktop monopoly then the issue will become mote because Microsoft will have to interoperate with everyone else to ensure continued sales. Don’t think it can’t happen. Not that long ago people didn’t think it was possible for Internet Explorer to lose market share to an Open Source browser that isn’t included in Windows and now Firefox has anywhere from 6 to 15% (update: 30% now) of the world wide browser market, and that happened in less then a year. It would take years longer for Apple to grow market share on x86 PC’s but it is certainly possible considering Apple’s flair for style and marketing.








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