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EU: FSFE critical of new promises: 'Microsoft disallows fair competition'

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The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is not impressed by the latest promises made by Microsoft to increase interoperability.

"Microsoft is primarily hoping for positive media coverage and not an examination of the substance of their limited interoperability release", FSFE said in a statement released days after Microsoft announced changes to its technology and business practises. The company said it wants to increase the openness of its products.

Microsoft said it will publish detailed documentation on several of its applications including its Vista operating system, and several of its Windows Servers. The company also said it would increase options for developers building extensions for its Office 2007 software.

The FSFE says the new announcement contains little actual news, and alleges the announcement is timed to help win the hearts and minds of the International Standards Organisation ISO. "It can be no coincidence that ISO delegates are meeting in Geneva for the Ballot Resolution Meeting to discuss serious issues in the proposed Microsoft OOXML format for electronic data, through which the company aims to reaffirm their control over standards in the global marketplace."

The European Commission appears similarly unimpressed. In a statement published on the same day as Microsoft's the Commission said it would welcome any move towards genuine interoperability. "Nonetheless, the Commission notes that today's announcement follows at least four similar statements by Microsoft in the past on the importance of interoperability."

Microsoft's announcement drew comparable comments from ECIS, the European Committee for Interoperable Systems. It is far too early to say whether today's announcement reflects a strategic change in Microsoft's approach to interoperability, the assocation representing companies such as Adobe, Corel, IBM and Oracle said in a statement. "The proof of this pudding will be in the eating."

© European Communities 2008
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The views expressed are not an official position of the European Commission.
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