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  3. <head>
  4. <title>FSFE - Browser bundeling - Open letter to Commissioner Kroes</title>
  5. </head>
  6. <body>
  7. <h1>Open letter to Commissioner Kroes</h1>
  8. <p>Dear Commissioner Kroes,</p>
  9. <p>regarding the antitrust investigations led by DG COMP against Microsoft, you
  10. have <a
  11. href="http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/23/antitrust-chief-in-europe-seeks-to-close-cases/">let
  12. it be known</a> that you would like to close a number of open cases very
  13. soon. This includes an ongoing investigation into Microsoft's practice of tying
  14. its Internet Explorer Browser to its Windows operating systems, and a pending
  15. complaint about Microsoft's consistent failure to share interoperability
  16. information for its desktop programs with competitors.</p>
  17. <p>At the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), we have long followed your
  18. Directorate's excellent work in ensuring competition in Europe. We participated
  19. as an interested third party in the Commission's case against Microsoft about
  20. interoperability in the workgroup server market. Today, FSFE is an interested
  21. third party in the Commission's proceedings against Microsoft based on Opera's
  22. complaint about the company's practice of tying Internet Explorer to its
  23. Windows operating system. We also follow closely any progress regarding the
  24. complaint filed by ECIS on Microsoft's refusal to share interoperability
  25. information for a number of its desktop applications.</p>
  26. <p>It is our view that DG Competition has done splendid work in all these
  27. cases. We are writing to you today to express our concerns about the
  28. consequences that an insufficiently strong settlement in those cases would have
  29. on the European software market. In our view, the terms for a settlement which
  30. Microsoft offered in July of this year are not an effective remedy against the
  31. company's dominant position in the European market for desktop software.</p>
  32. <p>We have published an analysis of the most important points for effective
  33. antitrust measures. I would like to draw your attention to this
  34. publication:</p>
  35. <ul>
  36. <li><a href="http://blogs.fsfe.org/gerloff/?p=263">FSFE to EC: Don't waste an opportunity with a hasty deal</a></li>
  37. </ul>
  38. <p>As stated there, our core concerns in the browser case are the
  39. following:</p>
  40. <ul>
  41. <li>Both Microsoft and OEMs must be required pre-install competing browsers
  42. on desktop computers, if their manufacturers request it</li>
  43. <li>The proposed ballot screen should be a native Windows application,
  44. should not give preference to Internet Explorer either implicitely or
  45. explicitely, and must provide an easy way to remove Internet Explorer from
  46. the system. Alternative browsers chosen by the user must be integrated into
  47. Windows to the same degree as Internet Explorer.</li>
  48. <li>The selection of browsers on the ballot screen must use clear and
  49. transparent criteria. Market share cannot be the only criterion, as that
  50. would effectively freeze today's market situation in place. Instead, the
  51. <em>rate of growth in market share</em> and availability across different
  52. platforms should be key criteria.</li>
  53. </ul>
  54. <p>While the Commission has not yet issued a statement of objections
  55. regarding Microsoft's failure to share interoperability information
  56. with competitors, a settlement is being sought on this issue as
  57. well. Again, FSFE has analysed Microsoft's proposed interoperability
  58. undertaking, and has found it insufficient to establish competition in
  59. the European market for desktop software.</p>
  60. <p>It is worth noting that in many cases, the strongest competitors with
  61. Microsoft's desktop applications are Free Software. OpenOffice is a case in
  62. point, constituting as it does the most widely used alternative to Microsoft
  63. Office. We therefore consider it essential that any settlement on
  64. interoperability ensures that Free Software can use the information provided by
  65. Microsoft to compete on an equal footing.</p>
  66. <p>Regarding interoperability, our core concerns are:</p>
  67. <ul>
  68. <li>Microsoft must be required to provide interoperability information
  69. either royalty-free or in return for a one-time payment. Running royalties
  70. are incompatible with Free Software. The <a
  71. href="http://www.protocolfreedom.org/PFIF_agreement.pdf">PFIF
  72. agreement</a>, which resulted from the <a
  73. href="/activities/ms-vs-eu/ms-vs-eu.html">Samba case</a>, provides a
  74. tested and working instance of such an agreement.</li>
  75. <li>Microsoft must provide a legally binding assurance that it will not
  76. assert those of its patents which relate to the interoperability information
  77. against Free Software. The lack of such assurance would let the company use
  78. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) to discourage competitors from making use
  79. of the interoperability information, leaving the remedy ineffective.</li>
  80. </ul>
  81. <p>In both cases, we consider that an effective settlement is much preferable
  82. to one that is quickly achieved, but lacks the power to establish competition
  83. in the European market for desktop software.</p>
  84. <p>We would like to thank you for considering these points, and hope that you
  85. find our analysis helpful. We of course remain available to provide further
  86. input.</p>
  87. <p>Kind regards,</p>
  88. <p>Karsten Gerloff</p>
  89. <p>President, Free Software Foundation Europe</p>
  90. </body>
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