21 November 2007

Interoperability: The New Battlefield

One word is starting to crop up again and again when it comes to Microsoft: interoperability - or rather the lack of it. It was all over the recent agreement with the EU, and it also lies at the heart of the OpenDocument Foundation's moves discussed below.

And now here we have some details of the next interoperability battles:

the EU Competition Commissioner’s office, with the first case decided by the EU Court of First Instance, now has started working intensively on the second case.

The new case involves three main aspects. First, Microsoft allegedly barred providers of other text document formats access to information that would them allow to make their products fully compatible with computers running on Microsoft’s operating systems. “You may have experienced that sometimes open office documents can be received by Microsoft users, sometimes not.”

Second, for email and collaboration software Microsoft also may have privileged their own products like Outlook with regard to interfacing with Microsoft’s Exchange servers. The third, and according to Vinje, most relevant to the Internet and work done at the IGF, was the problem of growing .NET-dependency for web applications. .NET is Microsoft’s platform for web applications software development. “It is a sort of an effort to ‘proprietise’ the Internet,” said Vinje.

That's a good summary of the problems, and suggests that the Commission is learning fast; let's hope that it doesn't get duped when it comes to remedies as it did the last time, apparently fooled by Microsoft's sleights of hand over patents and licences.

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