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July 21, 2006

Microsoft Has A Feel Good Moment, And It Feels Good

Microsoft has announced 12 principles to foster competition in the IT industry.  They echo a commitment that extends and surpasses the terms of the antitrust agreement with the United States government, and likely answers concerns of the European Union as well.  Europe has been particularly hard on Microsoft with recent record fines on top of initial fines.  Microsoft's appeal in that proceeding continues.  This agreement is forward-looking with the impending release of the Vista operating system.

The highlights:

  • OEMs can customize software and defaults including those for search and other services where choices exist
  • They can customize Windows by removing Internet Explorer, Media Player, and other Microsoft software and include that from competitors without retaliation
  • Microsoft will license patents at a fair rate other than those relating to the look of Windows
  • Microsoft will license its communication protocols at a commercially reasonable rate and provide documentation so that other developers can easily connect their products to Windows Server (are your listening Neelie Kroes?)
  • Microsoft commits to the idea that customers control their data and desktops (are you listening NSA?)
  • Windows Live will develop separately from Windows and consumers will have a choice to use them together or not
  • Windows will not have any Internet restrictions that prevent access to any lawful web site (net neutrality)

Quite a change from the scorched earth competition that earned the company heaps of scorn.  The value of these principles will come as they are practically implement, so we'll see how Microsoft interprets them.  Perhaps the antitrust lessons did make an impact on the company.  It may be more cost effective to  just conduct business than to pay lawyers and regulatory authorities record amounts of money.  Maybe the system works.

July 21, 2006 | Permalink


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