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EU Rejects Microsoft Royalty Proposal 274

pallmall1 writes "According to MSNBC, The Financial Times has reported that the EU is going to drastically reduce or even eliminate Microsoft's proposed royalties on interoperability information required to be released by the EU's antitrust ruling issued three years ago. According to a confidential EU document, "Microsoft will be forced to hand over to rivals what the group claims is sensitive and valuable technical information about its Windows operating system for next to no compensation...". Even Neil Barrett, the expert picked by both Microsoft and the EU to oversee Microsoft's compliance with the 2004 ruling, says a zero percent royalty would be 'better.'"
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EU Rejects Microsoft Royalty Proposal

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  • Royalty (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ntufar ( 712060 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @01:52AM (#18616975) Homepage Journal
    I am not a native English speaker and I read the subject as if Microsoft proposed some kind of royal title to EU bureaucrats or something and they refused.

    As for royalty payments, yes, Microsoft is disclosing interoperability protocols and other who want to used should pay, but... Microsoft's protocols are not stat-of-art technology, it is an implementation of ideas that are commonly used in IT industry. NFS is in essence the same thing as CIFS but with different protocol convention.

    Thus, Microsoft's hiding interface details is not protection of intellectual property but prevention for other vendors to come along and intercommunicate.

    Think of post office. Street addresses are open. Pen, paper and envelops are freely available from different vendors. What if US Post Office would demand a royalty from private currier services and taxi drivers for using of Street naming and house numbering system?

  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @02:06AM (#18617039) Journal
    I want Microsoft's lawyers. I could get charged with being a bank robber, then make a deal where I agree to only rob a small bit from banks, and then I'd demand compensation for loss of earnings.
    • I got one that's even better:

      Get charged with selling drugs to little kids, then as a deal to avoid jail time and fines, you get punished by having to give free samples of the drug to those kids. Worked for Microsoft in the US...
    • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @03:09AM (#18617353) Journal
      I want Microsoft's lawyers. I could get charged with being a bank robber, then make a deal where I agree to only rob a small bit from banks, and then I'd demand compensation for loss of earnings.

      It's worse than that... and it's not funny any more.

      MS has been found guilty of abusing it's monopoly position in the Windows desktop market... and the EU has determined that it continues this abuse on other related product and service markets. Now, to introduce meaningful competition, the EU stipulates that MS has to reveal secretive protocols, which are the 'tools' for extending the monopoly into other markets.

      5% server market revenues would be a very high barrier for competitors, according to the EU Inspectors approved by Microsoft themselves... they feel it should be close to 0%. They estimate that at 5%, it could take more than 7 years for meaningful competition. Coming to your robbing-the-bank analogy, it's like MS has a monopoly in bank-robbery the details and methods of which they will not divulge... except for 5% of their revenues. Note that he daylight robbery is still going on!

      • by horza ( 87255 )
        The EU could also decide that through illegally abusing its monopoly Microsoft has already made enough money at the expense of the EU to cover a license to use file formats / protocols required for interoperability. It's been a terrible drain on the economy and productivity over the years.

        Phillip.
  • by BillGatesLoveChild ( 1046184 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @02:21AM (#18617115) Journal
    > EU Rejects Microsoft Royalty Proposal

    Now this time Bill Gates really has gone too far: King Gates III! The Brits would never buy it! On the other hand we could see increased coverage of Microsoft in the British Tabloid Press and I'd like to see Steve Balmer try to throw a throne.
  • It's true! (Score:5, Funny)

    by PoopDaddy ( 1064616 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @02:32AM (#18617171)
    I saw it on Slashdot from this guy samzenpus who said this guy pallmall1 saw on MSNBC that the Financial Times reported it. So it's gotta be true.
  • by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @04:14AM (#18617633) Journal
    So MS releases the specs for various protocols they happen to be using right now. I can easily see MS changing these protocols as part of a service pack to XP/Vista and suddenly it's two more years for the revised specs to be made available. But this would just be IMHO based on how they've 'updated' the Windows file sharing protocol over the years and how nicely they play with public standards [namely the standard with a twist].
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by chribo ( 255996 )
      When you read the original EU commission document you'll see that they have choosen a wording which is release independent.

      -- chribo
  • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Thursday April 05, 2007 @04:15AM (#18617635) Homepage
    It is evident that the money is not the real issue for M$ here. If it was they would have complied with the EU order a long time ago rather than pay 2 million Euros per day. The real issue is preventing the competition from competing fairly - in particular Open Source.

    Note that M$ gets the benefits of using other protocols for free, eg: the Open System protocols (described in POSIX); the Internet protocols (described in RFCs); Open Source implemented stuff (just read the code)[**].

    It could get quite interesting if the Antigua spat with the USA over gambling gets worse [[The WTO order has been ignored by the USA]]. The result will be that Antigua will be allowed to take retaliation - which means ignoring protection on USA goods. If Antigua was to get a copy of the M$ protocols specification it could release it free to use by everyone - legally.

    [**] Yes it is quite legal for M$ to read Open Source code, deduce the protocols and write closed source software - just as long as they don't copy the code. This is as it should be.
    • by dkf ( 304284 )

      Yes it is quite legal for M$ to read Open Source code, deduce the protocols and write closed source software - just as long as they don't copy the code.

      Actually, the last part depends on the license. Anyone (MS included) can use BSD-licensed code in their closed source software. (They can also try to just sell plain builds of it too, of course, though it's a bit tricky when someone else can undercut them for nothing. It's easier to build a business when you're adding some value.) By comparison, the GPL proh

      • Actually, the last part depends on the license.

        No it does not. The free licenses allow you to inspect the code, understand how it works and use that knowledge elsewhere -- including for building closed source software. There is a big difference between reading the code and copying it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      ...Antigua will be allowed to take retaliation - which means ignoring protection on USA goods...

      While it is true that they would be allowed to retaliate, my understanding is that the retaliation cannot be arbitrary. That is, they can raise duties on selected US goods, to make them uncompetitive with goods from other countries. It does not give them carte blance to release trade secrets.

      ...WTO order has been ignored by the USA...

      I do not believe ignore is the proper word for describing the situation.

  • Aieee (Score:5, Interesting)

    by carrier lost ( 222597 ) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @07:12AM (#18618451) Homepage
    This just keeps getting better.

    I might be falling in love with the EU. If they could do something about the RIAA I'd be in nirvana.
  • at this rate, im going to bear children from all commissioners. and thats despite im straight male. you go figure.
  • If it's a percentage, I see a great opportunity for someone with money to spare to have a lot of fun giving stuff away.

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