European Community vs Microsoft: Interoperability wins?

The Court of First Instance found Microsoft guilty of preventing rivals in server software and products such as media players. In the next two months Microsoft could appeal at the European Court of Justice. jasoneppink

Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition Policy, said:

So what does this judgement mean for the future?

First, and most importantly, it sends a clear signal that super-dominant companies cannot abuse their position to hurt consumers and dampen innovation by excluding competitors in related markets.

I asked also my friend Simo Sorce, Samba developer and the Samba Team GPL Compliance Officer his opinion, and he told me:

This sentence is extremely important, it finally establish as a fact the abuses of Microsoft in the market. I think that this is a remarkable result, and I hope that now Microsoft will provide documentation so that interoperability can be achieved in a more timely and open manner, without blocking development of Free/Open Source Software solutions.

Carlo Piana, FSFE’s legal counsel, in the same vein:

FSFE and the Samba Team welcome the decision of the court. This is a milestone for competition. It puts an end to the notion that deliberate obfuscation of standards and designed lock-in is an acceptable business model and forces Microsoft back into competing on the grounds of software technology.

So apparently it is a great day for Open Source advocates, but I believe FFII is pretty right saying Microsoft might trump EU competition with (European) software patents, as results from Pieter Hintjens statement:

The decision seems positive but it is five years out of date.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.

I would suggest Italian and European IT firms, especially medium to big ones, to invest some money to help natural born lobbyists, or accept software patents will affect their business, either open or proprietary.

Technorati Tags: Microsoft, FSFE, EU, software patents, FFII, SimoSorce, CarloPiana, NeelieKroes, PieterHintjens