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07 October 2009, 11:44

FSFE appeals to European Commissioner Kroes in Microsoft antitrust case

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FSFE The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) has published an open letter addressed to European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes. The letter arises out of the foundation's concern that settling the two Directorate General for Competition cases against Microsoft too hastily could have long-term detrimental effects on the competitiveness of desktop systems. The European Commission is presently investigating the bundling of Internet Explorer (IE) with the Microsoft operating system. Furthermore, the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) has complained of Microsoft's reluctance to release important information needed to ensure the compatibility of open source software with Microsoft products.

The FSFE is calling for a native Windows application that would present users with a choice of web browsers which would not implicitly or explicitly favour Internet Explorer. The foundation believes that removing all traces of Microsoft's own browser from a system should also be a simple matter and argues that the main criteria for which browsers should be offered should be cross-platform interoperability and market share growth.

The FSFE suggests that Microsoft should provide information to ensure better compatibility, either royalty free or for a one-time fee. Periodic licensing payments, the foundation said, are incompatible with the principle of open source software. On the subject of fees, the letter's authors point to the agreement between Microsoft and the Protocol Freedom Information Foundation (PFIF). Within the framework of that agreement, Samba developers receive all of the information necessary to ensure interoperability with the Windows Workgroup Server. The FSFE also insists upon a legally binding assurance from Microsoft that none of its patents associated with this interoperability information will be enforced against makers of open source software.

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