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Microsoft Hands Over Docs To EU 265

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the are-they-allowed-to-redact dept.
hankwang writes "Reuters reports that Microsoft has handed over technical documents to the EU in order to enable the competition to make interoperable software. So far, the EU has imposed fines of €497 M and €280 M onto Microsoft for abuse of its monopoly. The deadline for this documentation was today. According to Microsoft, the documentation is over 8500 pages."
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Microsoft Hands Over Docs To EU

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  • shocking (Score:5, Funny)

    by bazorg (911295) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @12:02PM (#16964606)
    497... no presents for Bill's kids this Xmas...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by foobsr (693224)
      no presents for Bill's kids this Xmas

      Probably xtra presents, maybe it is cheap for the effect: (from TFA) " At this point, some of the major commercial businesses which needed the documents have exited the market."

      CC.
    • by eclectro (227083)
      497... no presents for Bill's kids this Xmas...

      Tough times alright. They not only had to get the change from the chairs in Bill's office, but they had to pull it out the couch in the front office as well.
    • by chrish (4714)
      He couldn't get through to Amazon.com for that $100 XBox 360 Core deal either.
  • Error in TFB (Score:5, Informative)

    by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes&xmsnet,nl> on Thursday November 23, 2006 @12:03PM (#16964610)
    fines of E497 and E280 is off by 6 orders of magnitude. Should be E497M and E280M.
  • where? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by convolvatron (176505) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @12:05PM (#16964642)
    does anyone know where to actually get the specs?
  • Format ? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rastignac (1014569) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @12:06PM (#16964652)
    They gave ".doc" documents, don't they ? ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kimvette (919543)
      I wonder - if they "show edits" will there be proprietary stuff Microsoft still tried to kept hidden, revealed? Will there be comments like "Fucking Euros, there goes our monopoly" or comments like "let's give them this info, that's okay, we'll just push patents through and then sue whoever actually tries to implement according to these specs" -- THAT would be amusing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Rik Sweeney (471717)
      They gave ".doc" documents, don't they ? ;)

      Which required opening and resaving in Open Office before they'd work in Office 2003...
    • Re:Format ? (Score:5, Funny)

      by ditoa (952847) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @12:59PM (#16965084)
      Actually they gave them in .docx format thereby forcing the EU to upgrade to Office 2007.
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @12:09PM (#16964684)
    Is it to be made publically available or do you have to request it from the commission?
  • 8500 pages (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @12:09PM (#16964692) Homepage
    According to Microsoft, the documentation is over 8500 pages.

    Microsoft were then fined another 5 Million Euros for photocopying and stapling charges because the EU needed more copies...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lex-Man82 (994679)
      I wonder if its possible to fund the whole of the EU on fines from large corporations?
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @12:11PM (#16964712)
    The question still remains...Are these documents up to date? Or if they are at the time they were handed over, will they remain up to date in a perpetual manner? Microsoft could submit "up to date" documents and later change interoperability metrics of what these docs represent. They have done something similar before.
    • Open Standards (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      Indeed. Requiring Microsoft to submit this documentation, while helpful, isn't a full solution to the root problem. The root problem is that Microsoft implements proprietary formats, protocols, and APIs in the first place, and that so many people rely on these.

      IMO, it would be better to mandate the use of open standards inside the EU government. This is (1) less heavy-handed than imposing a fine, (2) ensures the details of formats, protocols and APIs used by the EU are publicly available, (3) allows anyone
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
        Of course, if the EU gov't mandated open standards, rather than imposed fines on Microsoft, they wouldn't get to pocket said fines...
      • by bogaboga (793279)
        But Microsoft will then argue that mandating the usage of formats and specifications other than those of their choice "limits innovation." Agree?
        • Re:Open Standards (Score:4, Insightful)

          by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @01:26PM (#16965324) Homepage Journal
          ``But Microsoft will then argue that mandating the usage of formats and specifications other than those of their choice "limits innovation." Agree?''

          Who will they be arguing to? The EU government? They have no reason to listen. A judge? They won't care if some organization doesn't want to buy another organization's product, whatever the reason. Other potential customers? That won't do anything to change the situation of the EU gov't. Themselves? They'd just be trying to convince themselves that the loss of sales is a Good Thing.

          With the present case, where Microsoft is actually being fined, they have all kinds of legal recourse, and I do believe they've tried those options. They won't necessarily win: the government makes the rules, and everyone has to play by them; but Microsoft could at least try to convince a judge that the fines are unfair, the law is unjust, or that they need more time to comply.

          If the EU decides to mandate open standards, Microsoft is not being singled out in any way. That gives them much less reason to complain. They can either cater to the customer's demands or decline to, but they're not being wronged in any way.
          • by jimicus (737525)
            If the EU decides to mandate open standards, Microsoft is not being singled out in any way. That gives them much less reason to complain. They can either cater to the customer's demands or decline to, but they're not being wronged in any way.

            What standards would you suggest Microsoft implement? Their entire business is based around taking existing standards, bastardising them so their software interacts very nicely but nobody else's does then sell the result. Even when they don't do this, standards are al
      • Re:Open Standards (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Budenny (888916) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @04:24PM (#16966576)
        We are getting there slowly. BECTA in the UK has already mandated that all Office type software used in the education sector in the UK must be able to save in open formats. It will then be a fairly short step to mandating the use of formats which must already be available. So we will get there. BECTA has woken up to the fear of losing access to data. Once this fear bites, a solution will emerge, and it will be open. It is very funny to have little chats with vendors who are struck dumb with horror at the prospect of having to provide for csv exports. They tell you what a terrible format it is. You smile sweetly and say, yes, isn't it awful.

        But you see, our trustees....
  • by tttonyyy (726776) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @12:17PM (#16964766) Homepage Journal
    ...in Office 2007 format, forcing the commission to buy a licence to read them?

    Oh, that'd be so funny. :)
  • by JohnnyBigodes (609498) <morphineNO@SPAMdigitalmente.net> on Thursday November 23, 2006 @12:19PM (#16964784)
    <stormtrooper_voice>

    "These are not the docs we are looking for"

    </stormtrooper_voice>
  • by rjdegraaf (712353) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @12:23PM (#16964824)
    'This page intentionally left blank.'
  • Zeroes (Score:4, Funny)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @12:24PM (#16964840) Homepage Journal
    ``fines of € 497 and € 280''

    Look, I don't know what they teach kids in schools these days, but just because a lone 0 is nothing doesn't mean you can just go and leave out zeroes whenever you like.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 23, 2006 @12:30PM (#16964876)
    All work and no play makes Steve a dull boy. All work and no play makes Steve a dull boy. All work and no play makes Steve a dull boy...
  • torrent? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Andrewkov (140579) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @12:46PM (#16964982)
    According to Microsoft, the documentation is over 8500 pages.

    Anyone have a link to the torrent?

  • How to get them (Score:5, Informative)

    by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Thursday November 23, 2006 @12:56PM (#16965060) Homepage

    For those of you asking how to get the documents: they're not available free of charge. Microsoft has handed over documents for checking, and has explained how it wants to license them.

    The EU is going to decide three things: whether the documents satisfy their requirements, whether the price is reasonable (based on Microsoft's original contribution instead of their monopoly position), and whether the proposed license is reasonable.

    If they decide this will do, then Microsoft has to make the documentation available for people wanting to buy it under those license terms for that price; if they decide against, then Microsoft still hasn't complied and will get more fines.

    It never was about documentation available without strings attached, that would be too unreasonable.

    See the Washington Post [washingtonpost.com]: The Commission's decision, it recalled, required Microsoft to "disclose and license complete and accurate interface documentation [...] and Microsoft could face further fines if the Commission finds that the price was based on Microsoft's exercise of monopoly power, rather than on the originality of its product.

    • Re:How to get them (Score:5, Interesting)

      by KokorHekkus (986906) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @01:10PM (#16965200)
      The EU is going to decide three things: whether the documents satisfy their requirements...
      And for those who wonder if EU is competent to judge wether the documents are appropriate it should be pointed out that the expert that will look at the documents was picked from a shortlist that Microsoft themselves submitted.
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``It never was about documentation available without strings attached, that would be too unreasonable.''

      Why? On what grounds is the EU requiring Microsoft to produce these documents? Wouldn't those grounds make it reasonable that the documents be made available to anyone who is confronted with proprietary Microsoft protocols or file formats?
    • by jimicus (737525)
      Well, I'll say one thing for certain - you can be fairly certain that any license will be completely incompatible with any sort of open source.

      I understand this position, but I am struggling to think of someone - anyone - who:

      1. Competes with Microsoft
      2. Does not use open source software in order to handle things like interacting with SMB or Active Directory
      3. Hasnt't already licensed enough information to write their own implementation.

      So the upshot will be.... 8,500 pages that nobody wants to license - no
  • by SEMW (967629) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @01:08PM (#16965184)
    It's not just big companies, this monopoly poroblem. I remember on my most recent trip to Europe, I tried to pay for something with fake money from a board game. I was arrested and charged with abusing my Monopoly...

    My sentence was to be sent to jail, sent directly to jail, not to pass go, not to collect 200Million...
  • 8500 pages (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nosq (939723) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @01:30PM (#16965354)
    Is 8500 pages really that much? I remember that in July, when MS protested against the fines, they said that 300 employees had been working for over a year with writing the documentation. This makes 8500/(300*12)=2.4 pages per employee and month, which means that I'd really like to have that job..
    • I wrote papers in university that took roughly that time in pages/month that were worth almost a whole course worth of credits...quantity doesn't equal effort, or quality.

      Of course, this is Microsoft, so it's probably 8500 pages of diarrhea.
  • by RailGunSally (946944) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @01:34PM (#16965400)
    I seriously and strenuously doubt that this 8500 pages constitutes the purported documentation. Far more likely it is a masterwork of corporate techno-drivel. I expect to hear from independent qualified judges that this material is not, in fact, necessary and sufficient information to enable an expert to create a system capable of reliably interacting with M$ machines on a network. Likewise with file formats, &etc. This present waste of paper is nothing more than yet another chess move by M$. The EU will have to burn months deciphering and testing the documents, more months filing reports on how extrmely bogus it actually is. The EU bureaucracy machine will piss away many more months spinning up. M$ will whine and wail to the press about how the oppressive socialist regime is never satisfied no matter how many earnest efforts poor little M$ makes to comply with the the horrible old EU's draconian and anti-competitive rules. Neelie Kroes will impose more very impressive sounding, but ultimately trivial fines on M$. The EU will decree that M$ can not distribute software in their constituent countries. M$ will instantly appeal. An automatic injunction will take effect, nullifying the decree. The decree was, after all, nothing but hollow posturing from the get go. M$ will pay the fines -- which have been for years factored into the cost of doing business in the EU. M$ accountants will treat the whole matter as a simple, standard, albeit largish, bribe. The wheels on the bus will go round and round. Macchielvelli's rotten, grinning corpse will cum in it's shorts again. Same Old Shit. Repeat after me: M$ will NEVER give up their wire protocols, APIS, ABIs, or file formats. Ever. Not until doing so presents itself as the most profitable course of action. At present, such a disclosure would be nothing short of financially catastrophic for them. Complying with the EU's demands is quite out of the question. So forget about it. Now. Do it.
  • by 8127972 (73495) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @02:07PM (#16965676)
    .... they have put off getting fined by the EU for a couple of months. It's a stall tactic plain and simple. Criminal defense lawyers do it all the time.
  • by Cheeze (12756) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @02:16PM (#16965748) Homepage
    is a huge Word .doc
  • I am inclided tofavour the cockup theory of history on this one.

    I think microsoft is prevaricating because they dont actualy have the specs!

    Hard to believe, well not if youve ever debugged a program with a ActiveX/COM/OLE
    component inside.

    For years the MS development methodoligy of choice seems to have been wrap a new C++
    class around the old C++ class and hope it works. Which is sort of OK as it gives
    you the reuse promised by OO. The downside is that you end up with something like
    one of those old cannons dug
  • by Eric Damron (553630) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @03:17PM (#16966166)
    According to Microsoft, the documentation is over 8500 pages."

    And if I know Microsoft, it's all disorganized, incomplete, unusable crap... Anything to be able to claim that they have fulfilled the EU's request without making any real progress toward interoperability. Please Microsoft, prove me wrong!

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