October 24, 2007

Microsoft complies with EU antitrust ruling

by Jan Harris

Microsoft complies with EU antitrust ruling

After a three-year battle, Microsoft has finally agreed to comply with a 2004 EU court antitrust ruling.

The company will now make workgroup server interoperability information available to open source developers.

It will amend licensing terms for the software, to allow recipients to copy, modify and redistribute it in accordance with the open source business model.

Microsoft will now be legally required to provide information to enable third-party developers of workgroup server software to develop products which are inter-operable with the Windows desktop operating system, at a reasonable rate.

The company previously offered this information to developers at a royalty rate of 5.95 per cent.

The European Commission deemed that this rate was unreasonable and Microsoft will now have to license interoperability information covered by its patents at a royalty rate of just 0.4 per cent.

Microsoft has also agreed to stop demanding a royalty of 2.98 per cent of revenues for access to secret interoperability information, and will replace this with a one-off charge of €10,000.

Microsoft will also end patent disputes with programmers over alleged patent infringements, and will limit claims to commercial software distributors and end users. This should give legal security to open source programmers.

The new ruling is expected to stop Microsoft from killing competition by using the market power derived from its 95 per cent share of the PC operating system market.

EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes, called the news a “victory for the consumer”.

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