Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 17th Sep 2007 15:17 UTC, submitted by Rahul
Legal Microsoft suffered a stunning defeat on Monday when a European Union court backed a European Commission ruling that the US software giant illegally abused its market power to crush competitors. The European Union's second-highest court dismissed the company's appeal on all substantive points of the 2004 antitrustruling. The court said Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, was unjustified in tying new applications to its Windows operating system in a way that harmed consumer choice. The verdict, which may be appealed only on points of law and not of fact, could force Microsoft to change its business practices.
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What we will likely see is this: Microsoft licenses its server protocols at a small royalty fee ($1 per copy or something like that). There is no likely way that the EU can force them to release this information at no cost at all, so they'll do this. This fee will be enough to make it unimplementable in Linux (certainly not as GPL code, because it would be licensed to specific companies and not to the community as a whole). Do you think that SAMBA will be able to survive this treatment?

Frankly, I think this interoperability shenanigan is all a farce. No one besides the linux people actually wishes to develop server-side software that is interoperable with Windows. It is hard and financially unrewarding (IBM and now Sun can just as easily sell Windows and make the same profit). Linux is the only real threat to Microsoft here, and it won't get the benefits of this ruling because there will still be a patent license, and it won't be royalty-free.

All the EU is doing is pushing Microsoft into a defensive corner which will make everyone worse off. Before the DoJ case, Microsoft had no full-time lobbyists. Afterwards they hired 5 in DC. Before the first few patent lawsuits, Microsoft had very few patents. Now they file them at a rate exceeded only by IBM. Before the EU rulings, Microsoft did not have a history of making competition complaints against other companies. Now we might see more filings like the one against the Google-DoubleClick buyout. Giving the Courts a role in the increasingly rancorous politics of the software industry will only lead to more pain.
One of the few of Milton Freidman's statements I agree with:
"You will rue the day when you called in the government. From now on the computer industry, which has been very fortunate in that it has been relatively free of government intrusion, will experience a continuous increase in government regulation."

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