Microsofts Friends, Foes Weigh in on EU Court Ruling

Linux vendor Red Hat welcomes the decision as positive for innovation and consumer choice.

Microsofts friends and foes weighed in on the Sep. 17 landmark appeals ruling by the European Court of First Instance that the software maker had abused its dominant position by refusing to make its products interoperable with those of its rivals and by tying Windows Media Player to the Windows operating system.

The full ruling can be found here, in PDF form.

The decision was welcomed by Linux vendor and Microsoft competitor Red Hat as positive for innovation and consumer choice, both in Europe and around the world.

"The Court has confirmed that competition law prevents a monopolist from simply using its control of the market to lock in customers and stifle new competitors," CEO and president Matt Szulik said.

"In our business, interoperability information is critically important and cannot simply be withheld to exclude all competition. Given Red Hats firm belief that competition, not questionable patent and trade secret claims, drives innovation and creates greater consumer value, we were pleased with the overall decision," he said.

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Click here to read more about why the EU court struck down Microsofts appeal.

The Linux Foundation also weighed in, saying that it hoped the ruling would result in a more transparent Microsoft that would work with developers on true open interoperability.

"Customers are too smart to believe watered down claims of interoperability and open standards, especially from a vendor with the legal legacy of Microsoft," Amanda McPherson, the foundations director of marketing, told eWeek.

"Unfortunately, in this case, and others, Microsoft has seen open standards and open source as a threat to their monopoly position and have responded with tactical campaigns to neutralize those threats. You saw it in the OOXML strategy, you see it in the scare tactics levied at Linux over patents," she said.

Ken Wasch, the president of the Software & Information Industry Association, also welcomed the decision as a victory for innovators and consumers everywhere, saying Microsoft now had no option but to immediately cooperate and fulfill the requirements of the March 2004 decision.

"After one of the most thorough investigations in the history of competition law, spanning over 7 years, the Commission has taken a steady and decisive course … From the beginning, the requirements facing Microsoft were clear, and implementing the decision is important to the software industry. We hope that, with this essential step, that this will be forthcoming promptly and effectively," he said in a statement.

But Lars Liebeler, the antitrust counsel for industry body CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association), in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., criticized the decision, saying the Courts finding that Microsoft engaged in anti-competitive conduct by including Windows Media Player in its operating system ignored the realities of the software innovation process and laid the groundwork for further regulatory involvement in product design in the sector.

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Click here to read more about how he EU hit Microsoft with a record fine.

"This trend interferes with the workings of the free market and reduces consumer choice in the marketplace. The decision ignores the development of the media player market in the years since the Commissions decision, wherein a rich stream of new non-Microsoft products, such as Flash and i-Pod [and] i-Tunes, have been developed and effectively marketed in conjunction with the continued widespread use of the Windows operating system," he said.

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