The European Commission is on the verge of settling two antitrust cases against Microsoft. The details of this settlement will determine how much competition there can be in Europe's software market for years to come.
The Free Software Foundation Europe has analysed the most important elements that a settlement should contain to allow real competition in the European software market. It has summarised those key points in a letter sent to Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes:
Kroes is looking at Microsoft's practice of tying its Internet Explorer browser to its Windows operating systems, excluding rival browser makers. She is also trying to persuade Microsoft to release enough information so that competitors can make their desktop software work with the company's dominant operating system. This is something that Microsoft has refused to do in the past.
FSFE believes that a settlement on the browser case needs to put rival browsers on an equal footing with Microsoft's Internet Explorer by pre-installing them. Fast-growing browsers need to be included in an unbiased selection screen.
For desktop applications, FSFE argues that the software monopolist must release interoperability information in such a way that it can be used in Free Software. The company must also make a binding commitment not to enforce its patents against Free Software. That would prevent Microsoft from using Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) to keep rivals from making use of the information.