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  4. <title>FSFE - News - Microsoft pledge excluding primary competitors</title>
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  7. <h1>Microsoft pledge excluding primary competitors</h1>
  8. <p>Yesterday's media briefing by Microsoft on its pledge to release
  9. interoperability information for flagship products contained little
  10. actual news. Over the years
  11. <a href="http://mailman.fsfeurope.org/pipermail/press-release/2006q1/000126.html"
  12. >Microsoft has made multiple similar pledges</a>
  13. and they at times proved to be detrimental rather than beneficial for
  14. interoperability. Examining the terms of the Microsoft's latest action
  15. shows no major change of policy.</p>
  16. <p>The announcement confirmed that Microsoft was planning to use its
  17. software patent portfolio against interoperating products <a
  18. href="http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/feb08/02-21ExpandInteroperabilityPR.mspx"
  19. >by requiring a patent license for all commercial activity</a>. This is consistent with
  20. its previous attempts at allowing competition only where it provides no
  21. actual challenge to its monopolies.</p>
  22. <p>Microsoft's patent licences are incompatible with Free Software, the
  23. primary competitor to Microsoft in many markets. Almost all major
  24. competitors have made significant investments in Free Software and built
  25. substantial parts of their business on the principles of freedom of
  26. competition and innovation.</p>
  27. <p>Free Software's freedoms to use, study, share and improve software
  28. without additional restrictions are key to the success and utility of
  29. Free Software in both commercial and non-commercial ICT
  30. infrastructure. They are also the basis for many of today's working
  31. examples of interoperability and competition.</p>
  32. <p>Microsoft's announcement contains little more than a statement that they
  33. will support interoperability only under terms that disallow fair
  34. competition. Their press statements may indicate otherwise, but terms
  35. of release highlight this explicitly. There has never been a shortage
  36. of promises by Microsoft, but results are what must be considered rather
  37. than words.</p>
  38. <p>Regrettably, the lack of substance in the pledge and the timing suggest
  39. that Microsoft is primarily hoping for positive media coverage and not an
  40. examination of the substance of their limited interoperability release.</p>
  41. <p>It can be no coincidence that delegates are meeting in Geneva for the
  42. Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM) during this period to discuss <a
  43. href="/documents/msooxml-idiosyncrasies.html">serious
  44. issues in the proposed MS-OOXML format</a>, through which Microsoft aims
  45. to reaffirm <a href="http://news.zdnet.co.uk/leader/0,1000002982,39292519,00.htm"
  46. >their control over standards in the global marketplace</a>.</p>
  47. <p>If Microsoft truly means to facilitate interoperability and fair access
  48. they should spare delegates the BRM, retract MS-OOXML from ISO and
  49. converge this work into the global effort for the Open Document Format,
  50. the existing Open Standard at ISO for office documents.</p>
  51. <p>They should also release full interoperability information for all their
  52. products without restrictions of any kind.</p>
  53. <p>About the Free Software Foundation Europe:</p>
  54. <p class="aboutfsfe"> The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a non-profit
  55. non-governmental organisation active in many European countries and
  56. involved in many global activities. Access to software determines
  57. participation in a digital society. To secure equal participation in
  58. the information age, as well as freedom of competition, the Free
  59. Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) pursues and is dedicated to the
  60. furthering of Free Software, defined by the freedoms to use, study,
  61. modify and copy. Founded in 2001, creating awareness for these issues,
  62. securing Free Software politically and legally, and giving people
  63. Freedom by supporting development of Free Software are central issues
  64. of the FSFE.<br/>
  65. <br/>
  66. Further information: http://fsfeurope.org</p>
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