Thursday, July 13, 2006

Finally - someone from Europe speaks out!

As the MS/EU situation has unfolded over the past several years, one thing noticeable by its absence, has been the dearth of folks prepared to come to Microsoft's defense. Indeed, one reader of this blog highlighted that fact when they left this comment:

While the EU is MASSIVELY flawed in their logic and you make some good points...Microsoft has a major customer relations problem in Europe. I put this squarely at the feet of the executives in the EMEA sub. If our "good" partners like Siemens and SAP (for example) were to go to the EU and tell them to lay off, if our big customers like Citibank, like AXA (France), like BT or BP, like alliance or Zurich Insurance were to go to the EU and say, "gee, Microsoft is a strategic platform for us and we need you to lay off"...I have a feeling that the EU would back off. The same goes for the individual country governments to which we sell. That's what we call a customer relationship strategy issue and takes executive love, attention and leadership. Something we're in sore need of. So while the EU is wrong, we've done nothing on the enterprise customer front to make this easier for us to get out of.

Media commentary - at least what I've seen of it - has also generally taken either a "here's the facts" approach, or adopted the MSFT-bashing tone that is so du jour these days. Perhaps most interesting of all, even companies who could be adversely impacted in the future by the precedent potentially being set with MSFT currently (and that includes a broad swath of companies including European ones), have stayed on the sidelines.

All of this, is a rather long-winded way of explaining why the following article caught my attention:

In it, David Mitchell, Software Practice Leader and Gary Barnett, Research Director, of UK-based research group Ovum, are quoted as follows:

Many in the analyst community, the media and the blogosphere have continued to repeat the mantra "Microsoft is bad, the EU is good!" without bothering to subject the conduct of the EU to any form of real analysis. The, perhaps unpalatable, truth is that the EU deserves its share of the blame for the long delay in Microsoft's compliance with the 2004 decision, and as a result it is wholly inappropriate for the EU to fine the company for non-compliance at this point in time.

The timing of this fine is bizarre and unhelpful in resolving the dispute. In the last three to four months there has been genuine progress towards resolving the substantive issue around documentation of Windows protocols. Agreement has been reached between the EU's monitoring trustee and Microsoft on the form and substance of documentation. A series of seven milestones were agreed upon and the first six have been achieved already, with scrutiny of the revised documentation showing signs of a positive reaction. Waiting until the final milestone, due on 24 July, had been reached and those deliverables examined before confirming this fine would have been much more logical.

Microsoft is appealing against this decision and the saga will stretch on - this latest extension is down to the EU, not Microsoft. The EU should not rely on spending the money that Microsoft will hand over as there is a significant chance that they will need to give it back after the full flush of the appeals process.

This case hangs like a pall over the European software industry, acting as a general market depressant. The case will set wider and very significant precedents that will affect many aspects of the European industry. By taking the stick to Microsoft the EU could inadvertently end up beating other companies too, thereby damaging the industry. Engineers and scientists have more chance of producing a rapid resolution to the case than the civil servants and lawyers - the EU should allow the current technical work to complete, and call off the legal and bureaucratic dogs for a while.

Microsoft is not blameless in this case, but the blame equation has more weight on the EU side than most recognise.

Wow - kudos to them!. Oh, and in case you were wondering, according to this related piece:

MSFT doesn't appear to be paying them to say this - go figure:

We've done consulting work for the EU in a number of areas, and we've advised Microsoft on a number of things but none of our work had to do with the problems between the two.


  • The EU is not MASSIVELY flawed in their logic, the EU is MASSIVELY PISSED. From an european point of view there is only one reason Microsoft survived the antitrust thing without being torn in pieces: protectionism.

    Thats it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:28 AM  

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