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Microsoft Makes EU Dispute Docs Public 227

mjdroner writes "ZDNet is reporting that Microsoft has posted confidential documents used in its defense of European Commission antitrust practices related to server software. Explaining the posting of the documents, which the EC considers confidential, a Microsoft rep said, 'Transparency is vitally important in what can be a very opaque process in Brussels.'"
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Microsoft Makes EU Dispute Docs Public

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  • ask a billion people (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yagu ( 721525 ) * <yayagu@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:17PM (#14794256) Journal

    If you can't get the opinion or results you want from the commission, throw it out to the public and see if you can generate a groundswell of support.

    I think this is what Microsoft hopes to do. I doubt they'll succeed.

    From The Fine Article (emphasis mine):

    But a Commission monitoring trustee, one of several nominated by Microsoft, as well as competitors and a technical review committee gave Microsoft's documentation scathing reviews. The trustee called it "fundamentally flawed. "

    The commission isn't buying Microsoft's protest, the "buying" public won't either.

    What's interesting though is just in sheer numbers, Microsoft will find empathy, support, and voices to support their claim they're being treated unfairly.

    • Obtain a groundswell of support in EUROPE for a jumbo-sized AMERICAN company?

      Just ask McDonald's how that's working out for them...

      You'll soon see people flinging their Windows® CDs at the windows of American embassies...
      • Obtain a groundswell of support in EUROPE for a jumbo-sized AMERICAN company?

        Hence, yet another ad campaign. This one, if you read past the misleading headlines, is meant to change MS' image away from being American [nwsource.com], to being international or 'local'.

        If the case were wrapped up right away, MS would really be in difficulty. However, MS has been able to drag it out several years already and even affect the selection of judges and the decision process. It took ten years for MS' investment in Craig [salon.com]

      • I doubt it.... ....but only because American embassies have a habit of being behind really high railings, guarded by Marines and situated far enough away from their perimeters to make the throwing distance too far.
        • It was a symbolic statement, but have you ever tried to flick a CD? You can chuck those things farther than a frisbee(-brand flyind disc)!
          • Yes - and I intended to imply that both Microsoft and American representatives in Europe are more-or-less immune to geek-inspired outrage. The vast majority of people won't care enough to take action directly, and those that do won't make a huge impression.

            Plus, it was also a musing on our American Embassy here in Ireland. I pass the American Embassy in Dublin every day - I'm sure their security is more lax then elsewhere - but to describe it as 'fortress-like' would not be wrong - surrounded by high railin
    • Can't wait til the book(s) come out. Remember when Microsoft started those two "independent" groups and they started publishing books about how bad the DOJ vs MSFT case was for the US consumers?

      I hope this also sends more signals to others who attempt to license, partner, negotiate, etc with Microsoft. They'll do anything to get their way. Anything. IMO.

      LoB
  • by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:20PM (#14794293)
    I'm pretty sure Microsoft won't want the evidence that the EU commission holds to come out in public...
    • I'm pretty sure Microsoft won't want the evidence that the EU commission holds to come out in public...

      Microsoft already rolled over and explosed its soft pink belly, while the EU just kept on attacking.

      The EU complained about WMP, Microsoft gave them "XP N"; The EU responded by whining that, surprise surprise, no one wanted it so Microsoft hadn't satisfied their conditions.

      The EU complained that Microsoft needed to allow interoperability with its formats, Microsoft offered to make source code availa
      • The EU complained that Microsoft needed to allow interoperability with its formats, Microsoft offered to make source code available (their WSPP program); The EU responded by whining that source code takes work to figure out, so Microsoft didn't go far enough to promote interoperability.

        Source code is a result of implementing a specification. Formats are defined by specifications, not by proprietary source code.
        • Source code is a result of implementing a specification. Formats are defined by specifications, not by proprietary source code.

          Still in the wonderful rose-tinted world of academia, eh?

          I used to think that as well. In the "real" world, you consider yourself truly blessed to have the vaguest skeleton of a spec to code to, and if you have a slow week a few months after finishing the first released implemenation, you flesh out that skeleton with what you did.

          In over ten years of professional coding, I'v
      • oh come off it... we DO NOT WANT SOURCE CODE... seeing it taints you and makes _any_ code you write potentially dangerous. Not to mention the ridiculous NDAs you have to sign just to get to see the stuff... the source code is completely useless to the SAMBA project and any other OSS team. Microsoft know this, but they're grandstanding and hoping the general public don't know... no one wanted XP N because Microsoft made pretty damned sure the OEMs wouldn't take it up... I'd bet my last dollar that behind th
        • oh come off it... we DO NOT WANT SOURCE CODE... seeing it taints you and makes _any_ code you write potentially dangerous.

          That's no more true of Microsoft's code than it is of the GPLed code if you regularly work with non-GPLed projects.
           
      • So, what should Microsoft do? If someone seems intent on still kicking you once you go down, you have nothing to lose by fighting back, even fighting "dirty".

        You reckon? How do you define "seems intent" in that case? I mean Microsoft certainly aren't "down" here, and all the EU seem to want is for Microsoft to supply the interface documentation that they already agreed to supply, with a level of detal deemed sufficient by a body of experts Microsoft helped choose. That doesn't sound much like an intent

  • Aim, Shoot Foot !! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Akoma The Immortal ( 36474 ) <pascal.abessolo@com> on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:20PM (#14794298) Homepage
    Ho Boy, Ho Boy,

    The battle is heating up. I can see now that the UE have the moral incensitive to switch their document to OpenDocument in the near future.

    I Hope they do.

    • The battle is heating up. I can see now that the UE have the moral incensitive to switch their document to OpenDocument in the near future.

      Do you mean they could be morally incensed enough to switch their document format?

      Or they could be morally insensitive enough to switch their document format?

      The latter would be ... odd.
  • Put another way (Score:5, Insightful)

    by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:21PM (#14794310)
    1. Microsoft wants to put their version before the public while the ECC is stuck keeping much of theirs under confidentiality wraps.
    2. Microsoft has decided that there's no remaining downside to flipping the ECC the bird.

    Conclusion: go for it.

    • 2. Microsoft has decided that there's no remaining downside to flipping the ECC the bird.

      "Microsoft: You are banned from selling any software in Europe for the next three years"

      I don't think they will, but for Microsoft the potential downside of pissing off those in nominal control of a huge marketplace has no end. In theory Bill could end up in jail, and he might get arrested and released 'just to send the message'.

      I get the feeling that the dumb games they have been playing are going to come back to

      • "Microsoft: You are banned from selling any software in Europe for the next three years"

        Why bother?

        Keep in mind that Microsoft's whole business is built on priveleges granted by the State. If Microsoft refuses to accept the authority of the State, the State can in turn refuse Microsoft recourse to the courts.

        Put another way, the EU could declare Microsoft's copyrights unenforcable. Care to guess what that would do to the bottom line?

  • transparency FTW (Score:2, Interesting)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 )
    Can't wait to see how the seething "hate Microsoft" crowd spins this one.

    Flat out: transparency in government is a good thing.
    EU government (and the US gov't for that matter) is entirely too opaque for my preference.
    • This is Microsoft releasing their own documents. Are you going to argue that Microsoft is the government?
    • Transparency is great. Is this the way to go about it, though? It depends on which documents they released. If they provided all relevant documentation, then I don't much care whether they violated some Brussels policy. But if they only released their defense, while their opponents are still obligated to keep the "evidence for the prosecution" under wraps, then it's hardly a blow for transparency in government.

      All I can find is "Microsoft's Response to the European Commission," so I don't think I'm far
    • by Anonymous Coward

      This isn't transparency though. Microsoft have published their response and two expert opinions. Great. But surely you realise that's only part of the picture? And that the EU cannot disclose the rest of the picture because Microsoft have a right to privacy that they have yet to formally waive?

      This stinks. Microsoft gets to select bits and pieces to support their case, while keeping the rest under wraps, and the EU can't respond because Microsoft has a right to privacy - and yet Microsoft are being

      • he EU cannot disclose the rest of the picture because Microsoft have a right to privacy that they have yet to formally waive?

        By violating any confidentiality agreements of the proceedings, Microsoft may be ruled by the EU as having waived all rights to confidentiality of the proceedings. Pissing off judges is not the recommended way to get a ruling in your favor.

    • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @02:13PM (#14794817)
      Selectively releasing private corresondence that is flattering to you, after editing out anything you'd prefer stayed secret (RTA), doesn't really qualify as "transparency" in my book.

      If Microsoft is such a fan of transparency, maybe the EU should release all the correspondence in full, including the Microsoft "business secrets." (But of course, then Microsoft would throw a legal hissy fit.)

  • by pmc ( 40532 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:23PM (#14794323) Homepage
    'Transparency is vitally important in what can be a very opaque process in Brussels

    But apparently transparency is not vitally important for APIs.
  • Lol transparency indeed. But only when it serves Microsoft's own purposes otherwise it's take a hike.
  • Can't believe it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by malsdavis ( 542216 ) * on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:29PM (#14794392)
    "Transparency is vitally important in what can be a very opaque process in Brussels."

    I don't believe what I'm reading! Since when have Microsoft been interested in transparancy and openness. This is the same company that calls Open Source Softare an evil communist cancer. The same company which held secret dodgy meetings with the Republican administration which saw the US government change its mind from wanting to split up the company to wanting to give it a light slap on the wrist.

    And now they want transparancy. Talk about double standards!

    • by tibike77 ( 611880 ) <tibikegamez AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:36PM (#14794456) Journal
      And this one here was also priceless... "More broadly, the company suggested the Commission could look at the process used in the United States, where a court also found that Microsoft had violated antitrust law."

      RIGHT. Excuse me for being an European and LAUGHING my ass off each and EVERY time I hear about ANOTHER idiotic legal experience from the USA. Next time I hear somebody start saying "US Legal system is better in/because/...", I'll just hit him over the head with a large brick and let him TRY to sue me.
      • You can beat up an idiot in Europe? My God, you are advanced!
      • I don't know about other people but if you hit me in the head with a large brick I'd hit you with a large SUV. And I don't know about you, but I'd rather be sued than killed.
      • Are you seriously suggesting that a system where you can hit someone in the head with a brick and get away with it is better than one where you would have to answer for your action?

        Getting sued would be the least unpleasant outcome of hitting an American with a brick.
      • I'll just hit him over the head with a large brick and let him TRY to sue me.

        Maybe you missed the memo, but we have guns over here. Lots of guns. I would not recommend the brick thing.

        Suing people is definitely the preferred method.
    • Who would expect a group of Republicans to do anything against any large business?

      If anything can be said to support Microsoft, at least they don't make tobacco products.
    • is a government.

      Like Microsoft or not, there is no reason issues like this should be secret unless trade secrets are at risk, and even then that should only be a concern up until guilt is proven.

  • 'Transparency is vitally important in what can be a very opaque process in Brussels.'

    Kinda like Open Source, would't you say?
  • Hmmmm... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Noryungi ( 70322 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:30PM (#14794401) Homepage Journal
    What I'd like to see is the European Commission slap a huge fine on Microsoft for publishing these documents, as well as drag a couple of European Microsoft Executives to courts for breach of confidentiality. Add a couple of cotempt of court proceedings against the lawyers who handled the documents, and we are all set for a big legal fight.

    I am not joking: Europe has some fairly strict laws concerning the confidentiality of judicial proceedings. For instance, in France, journalists can be convicted for publishing documents related to an ongoing investigation, and I think it's the same in Germany and in the UK. (And before American citizens out there start screaming: "Freedom of Speech!", please remember that these rules have been edicted to protect the "innocence" of a person/company until proven guilty).

    So, this little spat between Microsoft and the EU could become interesting quite quickly...
    • What I'd like to see is the European Commission slap a huge fine on Microsoft for publishing these documents, as well as drag a couple of European Microsoft Executives to courts for breach of confidentiality. Add a couple of cotempt of court proceedings against the lawyers who handled the documents, and we are all set for a big legal fight.

      Just because they took some random stuff and put it on the net when they had no right to do so? Who would have a problem with that?

      Information wants to be free, yo!

    • And before American citizens out there start screaming: "Freedom of Speech!", please remember that these rules have been edicted to protect the "innocence" of a person/company until proven guilty).

      Actually, we would start screaming "freedom of the press!" since you didn't say anything about talking about it :P

      But what I would start screaming is "bullshit" because opacity in government (or legal proceedings) is just a way to keep those damned citizens out of your hair while you fuck 'em over.

  • I have a feeling Microsoft never bought into the whole Dale Carnegie bit about winning friends. In the US, I opine MS could face sanctions. Be interesting to see what happens here.
  • ... is that Microsoft's primary crime in this case is that it is not a European company. The company can publish whatever it wants, but in the end the commission will do whatever it believes is right for European business. At the end of the day Microsoft will still not be one of those European companies and will pay a price for it.

    Novell could have dealt with all of this in a much more positive manner three years ago when they bought SUSE. If they'd picked up their corporate HQ and moved it from Utah to Ger
    • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:58PM (#14794663)

      Microsoft's primary crime -- of which it has been found guilty and for which it has been sentenced -- was breaking monopoly rules. Anything they're doing here is secondary (assuming that what they're doing here really is wrong; I haven't read the documents so I don't know whether Microsoft or the EC is in the right at this point).

      Just because the current US administration laughably let off their own corporation within days of coming to power for dubious reasons, you can't really expect anyone else to do the same. Nor can you realistically claim that the rest of the world is somehow being harsh on Microsoft just because they actually enforce their own laws against them where the US obviously and publicly declined to do so (after a change of administration). Microsoft knew the rules, knew it was at best walking a tightrope, and chose to do business that way anyway.

      In any case, you seem to have little understanding of how European "democracy" works. European Commissioners are almost entirely unaccountable. Many are political rejects whose prominent careers failed in their own countries to the extent that they could no longer hold a high public office credibly, and thus they get assigned (not voted by the electorate) to positions on the EC by national governments looking out for their own. The whole thing is a corrupt pile of politicised shenanigans, and if you really think the commissioners care anything for the electorate or businesses, rather than their own political lives and protecting those who installed them in their positions of power, you need to read a little more about how European politics works and why it needs changing.

    • ... is that Microsoft's primary crime in this case is that it is not a European company.

      And what's the excuse for it being convicted in US courts?

      The only difference I see is the EC is actually enforcing the penalty handed down after the conviction. The US decided for the figurative "slap on the wrist" and are now trying to figure out what to do because MS isn't sitting still for even that.
    • The reality is that the commission are quite ready to hand out huge fines to European governments and companies when they contravene the EC neo-liberal agenda. They probably go easy on Microsoft because they are seen as an arm of the current Republican administration.

      Still you are right to ask the question but Microsoft are in trouble because their business practises contravene the norms.
  • by NigelJohnstone ( 242811 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:42PM (#14794513)
    ...explaining why they can't deliver 200 pages of documentation....
    • Hundreds of pages of documentation saying that they delivered a bunch of documentation and that it is not their fault if nobody understands it...

      On the one hand, maybe MSFT deliberatly delivered obtuse documents.

      Another possibility is that there is no clear documentation. Many software projects start with vague specifications and grow organically. What little documentation there was, if any, quickly becomes obsolete.

      I know I would hate to have to promise that my documentation matches the current state

      • I know I would hate to have to promise that my documentation matches the current state of my latest software...

        You'd think with hundreds of millions of dollars on the line they could afford to hire a few people to create said documentation if they wanted to comply. One thing of note, the independent commissioner who judged the documentation insufficient was a guy MS picked for the job.

      • From Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Manfred Broy Lehrstuhl für Software & Systems Engineering Institut für Informatik Technische Universität München:

        "Producing a rigorous, complete, stand-alone specification for Microsoft work group server functionalities - or any software system of such enormous complexity - that is free of errors and omissions is beyond the state of the art and far beyond industrial practice"

        So when an MS engineers dies, his secrets die with him? Nah.
        So MS engineers are a bree
      • Clear documentation is important...
        If a protocol is still changing, then the software implementing it is still in pre-beta stages... Any release-ready versions should have stable protocols...

        Documented protocols are incredibly important, without them the internet would not work.
        I'm sure to access slashdot you're using at the very least:

        DNS
        HTTP
        ARP
        TCP
        UDP
        Ethernet
        HTML

        if not a lot more...
  • It's obvious that this will not exactly earn microsoft any friends, by doing this they're actually trying to take the power out of the hands of the EC, and at the same time halfway calling them incompetent, by questioning their procedure. The EC isn't a very beloved institution, neither is Microsoft, so when you bring in the public, you bring in a lot of feelings. If I was part of the EC, and saw that a company was trying to make this kind of case into a witch hunt, i'd be pissed, and I think MS is going to
  • Clear (Score:3, Interesting)

    by umbrellasd ( 876984 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:52PM (#14794609)
    a Microsoft rep said, 'Transparency is vitally important in what can be a very opaque process in Brussels.'
    And I say, "Source code transparency of the OS is vitally important in any critical business process."

    Hypocritical. Bastards.

    • Why is open source the solution?

      Honestly, I don't see why a company should be forced to expose their source code. A company investing billions into code has the right to protect their investment.

      Should Mercedez, GM, Ford, BMW, VW, Fiat, Ferrari etc post detailed plans of every car and engine technology they design.
      Should google disclose their indexing technology?
      Should the US or EU post documents about every weapon they are in development or have developed.
      Should an airplane company like AirBus post plans
    • Except that Microsoft's response to the EC's demands was exactly what you asked for: source code availability.
  • M$ spouting about the value of transparency and open-ness. Next thing you know it'll be the need for interoperability with other OS'es and the value of supporting standards.
  • This certainly isn't the first time Microsoft has attempted to influence governments [msversus.org].
  • MacroHard (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @02:52PM (#14795200) Homepage Journal
    The king of closed source violates nondisclosure to demand transparency in their defense of their closed-source monopoly.
  • Notice to Microsoft: If you thought that publishing documents would somehow sway some kind of public opinion in Europe agains the commision, you have some very serious problems. The majority of Europeans can't speak English, and a good 99,999% of them couldn't give a fuck if they're running Linux or BSD or Windows.

    What you will do, for playing the arrogant american card (telling a European court to look at the way US courts do things makes my blood boil, the bunch of scum fucking bastards, and I'm not even

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