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March 7, 2006

EU watchdogs have their eye on Microsoft Office

Posted by David Hunter at 6:53 PM ET.

(Via Todd Bishop) Bloomberg News has the story:

The European Union may start a new investigation into allegations Microsoft Corp. is abusing its dominance in products such as Word and Excel, EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said.

A group representing International Business Machines Corp., Oracle Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. last month filed a complaint and asked the European Commission, the antitrust regulator for the European Union, to start a probe against Microsoft.

“We have a duty and responsibility, if there is a complainer, to take it seriously,” Kroes said in Tokyo. “If the complaint makes sense, we will” investigate.

That’s no real surprise since that’s their job, but last month’s complaint was rather more broad-based than just Office and cited bundling as well as interoperability issues. That’s why I continue to observe that all the little niche products (e.g. [1], [2]) that Microsoft is bundling into Vista are making it a target rich environment. As for Office itself, it will certainly be the centerpiece of interoperability complaints.

And speaking of Office and interoperability complaints, Microsoft immediately slammed the OpenDocument Format Alliance formed late last week by prominent competitors. Peter Galli at eWeek:

Microsoft is accusing some competitors of exactly the same thing of which they have criticized the software company: pushing an exclusive standard to the detriment of all others and not enabling choice.

Alan Yates, general manager of Microsoft’s Information Worker Business Strategy in Redmond, Wash., this week accused the alliance, which he referred to as “Sun, IBM and their friends,” of wanting to push the ODF as an “exclusive” standard to the detriment of all others, rather than enabling choice among formats like PDF from Adobe, Microsoft’s OpenXML and HTML.

“Clearly, choice and competition are better than arbitrary technology preferences. Part of this confusion is clearly IBM and Sun promoting their products based on OpenOffice that have had difficulty competing in the marketplace thus far,” Yates said.

The important long-term issue is how documents can integrate with information systems via XML, he said, adding, “It is great that there is competition to help customers into this new era of open, XML-based documents.”

Sun’s chief open-source officer, Simon Phipps, returns fire in the article and IBM’s VP of Standards and Open Source breaks out the big guns at his weblog:

They’ve tried this line before. It was ridiculous then, and it’s ridiculous now. Give us a break, customers are really smarter than that.

Last but not least, OASIS has jumped into the fray:

On the heels of last week’s debut of the OpenDocument Format (ODF) Alliance, the OASIS standards body Tuesday said it was forming a similar group. But while the ODF Alliance seeks to encourage governments to adopt the electronic document format, the OASIS ODF Adoption Committee will work on promoting OpenDocument implementations among industries and end-users.

Paul Gannon, OASIS president and chief executive officer, said he expects only “some small overlap” between the new committee’s remit and that of the ODF Alliance.

More details by following the link.



Filed under Antitrust, Coopetition, General Business, Governmental Relations, IBM, Legal, ODF, OOXML, Office, Office 2007, OpenOffice.org, Standards, Sun

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One Response to “EU watchdogs have their eye on Microsoft Office”

  1. OpenOffice.org Training, Tips, and Ideas Says:

    Microsoft Owns Your Tube Top

    Remember that commercial for Compass bank, that shows the woman at an ATM in her closet? The ATM told her, I’m sorry, there will be $2 fee to access your tube top. That’s what the Open Document Format, or

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