Microsoft Settles With EU

After a nine year-long legal battle, Microsoft has finally come to an agreement with the European Union regarding the charge that it maintained a monopoly by keeping secret detailed information on interfaces to Windows. The company had recently lost its appeal to the EU Court of First Instance, and had one further appeal possible.

Microsoft has agreed to three substantial changes in its practices, including making available detailed and accurate technical documentation on application interfaces to Windows for a fee of 10,000 Euros. It will also allow that data to go to open source companies so that servers based on Linux can easily interface with Windows versions, and will cut the price it charges for worldwide licenses.

Will this agreement herald any changes in Microsoft's competitive position in the world? Let me know your thoughts at [email protected].

More Trouble for Vonage
VoIP pioneer Vonage finds itself once again being sued for patent infringement, this time by AT&T. Vonage is also in the process of resolving a patent infringement dispute with Verizon Communications. The company lost at both trial and appeal on a series of patents owned by Verizon, and is in the process of negotiating with Verizon on a settlement. Vonage also settled last month on the use of patents owned by Sprint Nextel.

There are a couple of different ways you can look at this. First, Vonage simply adopted technology focusing on connectivity with existing phone services that was already well-protected by the incumbent telephone companies. Second, the traditional telcos are successfully stifling innovation in low-cost phone services.

What's your take? Tell me at [email protected].

FTC Declines a Full Investigation of Intel
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission declined to open a formal investigation of Intel in ongoing antitrust queries targeting the leading chip supplier. Despite a formal investigation by the EU and a massive lawsuit filed by AMD, the FTC is taking a wait-and-see attitude on the case.

The antitrust violations against Intel allege that the maker of chips for personal computers and servers is offering large discounts to computer makers in exchange for them not using competitive products. The argument is that Intel provides system vendors steeper discounts for processors if they use few or no AMD chips.

Do you use AMD products? Do you have a preference for your processors? Tell me your tale at [email protected].

Mailbag: Microsoft's Search Baby, More
Steve Ballmer recently compared Microsoft search to a "precocious tot," but baby or not, readers think it's got a long way to go before it catches up to Google:

I'm still using Google. Here's the thing that gets me: I'm a Web developer, mainly using Visual Studio 2005 and Windows Server 2003, and every now and then I'll try using Microsoft's search to look up an error message. Invariably, I get either no search results returned or a lot of garbage back. Mind you, this is when I type in a specific error message and number that Microsoft itself returned in order to help me.

I enter the same error message and number into Google and I usually get my answer. And amazingly enough, that answer is typically in a Microsoft Web site! If Microsoft can't even search its own Web site's contents properly, then it has a long way to go. I'd say it isn't even at the "baby" stage yet; it's still in the womb. I try again (every six months or so). I'd like to see it succeed.

Seriously, Microsoft is dreaming if it ever thinks it will get anywhere near Google, let alone surpass it. I know of no one that actually uses MSN search and I despise the fact that in IE 7 it takes me there if I type in an incorrect address. I have used MSN search maybe twice, and only because of the above reason. Even if Microsoft can technically match Google, people will still "google" the Internet. I really doubt "MSN searching" will catch on the same.

Despite the bashing the Microsoft often receives, I give it credit for many of the products that it comes up with. However, MSN search and Hotmail or Live Mail (or whatever it is now) are definitely not up there in achievements.

And readers were quick to correct our assertion yesterday that the satirical Onion had its roots in the Web:

Sorry, The Onion was not born on the Web:

Ahem. The Onion was born on cheap newsprint and handed out for free (and still is) way before it was cyberized. The quality hasn't changed -- just your perception of facts.

It did not start life on the Web, but was actually a print item years before the Internet was even a twinkle in Tim Berners-Lee's eye.

Join the fray! Send an e-mail to [email protected] or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Peter Varhol is the executive editor, reviews of Redmond magazine and has more than 20 years of experience as a software developer, software product manager and technology writer. He has graduate degrees in computer science and mathematics, and has taught both subjects at the university level.


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