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Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Microsoft (John Vassallo) wrote to the European Commission on the enforcement review:

Data protection and IP enforcement must be reconciled. Data protection rules presently prevent some internet evidence gathering and civil cases altogether in some Member States – even against corporate infringers. This runs directly counter to the TRIPs Agreement. Fundamental rights to protection of privacy, intellectual property and justice must all be respected.

Details in the section under the title “Data protection and IP enforcement must be reconciled.”. Specifically their concern is access to IP data.

These fundamental rights can and should be implemented in a complementary and consistent way throughout the EU both to protect privacy interests and to permit rights owners to protect their IP through both civil and criminal enforcement.

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The new search engine bing.com shortly tested:

I search for “Sägezahntiger” (the correct word is “Säbelzahntiger“), first hit, Bing tells me that I may find many Sägezahntigers at ebay and asks me if I was looking for “Sägezahn Tiger”.

Now, let’s try the map service, I am of course using Opera as my web browser:

The web browser on this computer and the Maps site may not work well together.

To continue, install a browser that is more compatible with this site. Or, continue to use your current browser, keeping in mind that some features may not work correctly.
Install Internet Explorer
Install Firefox
Go to the map using this browser

Hello, Mrs Kroes, …! It reminds you so much of the old DR-DOS tricks but this is even more silly for a new search engine which was supposed to get it right. One of the best and most popular web browsers, Opera, is not supported? Surprisingly everything works seems to work fine anyway when you select “Go to the map using this browser”.

The map service looks great, but it is not fully translated yet into German language. Additionally to the usual satellite images it adds a bird view perspective. I am from Germany’s largest navy port and I am quite surprised that you can get detailled bird view pictures of our military facilities. In the real world signs scare you that they may shoot at you. And if you take pictures, the police might be very interested in your identity and your actions may be interpreted as a criminal offence by a court. With Bing.com you also find out that the vessel “F214” is the F214 Lübeck. In another map view the arsenal port is mislabeled as the “Jade Bay”. I really wonder why these search engine and map companies are not concerned about homeland security at all.

Then I search for “Place du Luxembourg”. It shows me a place in Luxembourg but offers no context link to the well-known alternative in Brussels.

Responsiveness of Bing? Needs improvements. I stay with Google though I like the bird view for maps. It is just more convenient and mature.

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In European competition enforcement cases you can request a hearing which you should better do. Of course it is optional, an opportunity for you. Same in the recent Internet explorer bundling case.

Opera, a Norwegian browser manufacturer filed a compaint, the competitor’s product Internet Explorer is as we know bundled with the Windows operating system, but bundling is contra legem when you have a dominant market position. Of course IE bundling was yesterday’s fight. So to the great surprise a year later a statement of objections was communicated by the Commission to Microsoft. A company may then request a oral hearing where it can present its counter-arguments and submit a statement. The statement is submitted, 250 pages. Microsoft also said it wanted a hearing. The Commission sets a date for your hearing. You are supposed to attend it, what else…? Forget everthing you know about the common code of conduct:

The dates the Commission selected for our hearing, June 3-5, coincide with the most important worldwide intergovernmental competition law meeting, the International Competition Network (ICN) meeting, which will take place this year in Zurich, Switzerland. …, it appears that many of the most influential Commission and national competition officials with the greatest interest in our case will be in Zurich and so unable to attend our hearing in Brussels. …We pointed out that there’s no legal or other reason that the hearing needs to be held the first week of June. We believe that holding the hearing at a time when key officials are out of the country would deny Microsoft our effective right to be heard and hence deny our “rights of defense” under European law.

In the New York Times it sounds even more silly:

Microsoft decided not to give oral evidence in the case after it was unable to persuade the commission to move the meeting, scheduled for June 3 through 5, so that it did not conflict with a global antitrust conference in Zurich that draws European antitrust regulators.

or in the original tune:

Therefore, we reluctantly notified the Commission that we will not proceed with a hearing on June 3-5. While Microsoft maintains its request for a hearing at a different date, that request has been denied and the Commission hearing officer has deemed Microsoft to have withdrawn its request for a hearing.

or with media spin which makes the incompetence even more apparent:

Microsoft calls off EU antitrust hearing over IE
Blames inflexible EU agency, scheduling conflict, as it cancels June defense

Whoever tries to slap in the face of the European hearing officer because some potential national observers prefer to go to an international conference, looks pretty incompetent. It was reported also Commissioner Kroes intended to honour the hearing of DG competition with her attendance. It seems also inspiring how failure is spinned in a way to smear the Commission and dig the hole deeper.

“It’s pretty unheard of for a company to cancel its own hearings in Brussels,” said one antitrust lawyer.

in the Financial Times. And Stephen Kinsella shows how to do diplomatic damage control:

“The fact that they are often scheduled without much consideration for the wishes of the defendants does tend to reinforce that impression [of irrelevance].”

Indeed, as said before the proposed defense sounded not very well thought.

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The European Union antitrust case against Microsoft for bundling seemed incredibly solid. A bit desperate look the latest defense proposals the New York Times became aware of:

Microsoft will argue against a European Commission proposal that it promote competing browsers in its Windows operating system on the ground that such a move would strengthen its rival Google’s dominance in the global search-advertising market, according to a person with direct knowledge of Microsoft’s legal defense.

Does not look good at all. And here comes the classic:

According to the person, Microsoft will argue that Internet browsing is inseparable from the Windows operating system.

Antitrust defense lawyers or racketeers? Won’t work out. No way. The inseperability argument was tried before, debunked and is well documented and discussed. All antitrust professionals are able to crush it blindfold. The google argument is a legally irrelevant point about a claimed competition effect of a remedy.

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Forrester on Open Source

A new paper from Forrester Research concerning Open Source for Microsoft discusses the potential of the development model. Sure, you have the necessary portion GPL bashing folklore in there (which unfortunately prevents the substancial criticism that should be raised by neutral parties) but as a Microsoft document it sounds like Gorbatschev 1989 in Berlin, as Brenno de Winter predicted quite a while ago. What Forrester got right here is in particular the concept of best practise transfer, an embracement of crowd-based business processes:

Model internal reuse strategies on the example of successful open source communities. When it comes to software reuse, open source projects have achieved in practice what many commercial organizations have long desired: high levels of reusable components that enable rapid assembly of new solutions. There’s substance to the argument that the more transparent a component’s development, the more likely that other developers will be interested in using it. And if new developers can also make changes or extensions to apply a component into a new context, so much the better.

More thoughts should be spent on that transfer because open source as such may not be commercially sustainable for some companies. It is worth to investigate how self-selection by professionals may improve labour allocation and help to overcome ICT specialist shortage. Google is an example for a company that seems to incorporate this element in its business and development process quite successfully.

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Ciarán O’Riordan was recently chosen as the campaigner for the ESP campaign of the FSF, a position previously taken by Ben Klemens in the US. He starts with shock campaigning in Brussels:

EndSoftwarePatents.org will be launching the “Economic Parasites” campaign and our first action will be to inform the attendees of Microsoft’s “Growth and Innovation Day”.

I wonder if hate speech is helpful for the cause but for certain the escalation is driven by the public outrage over the TomTom patent litigation case which affects the automotive sector and the massive intervention of the American company in European policy matters in the area.

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Apparently also Cuba develops its own national operating system, Reuters reports.

The government views the use of Microsoft systems, developed by U.S.-based Microsoft Corp, as a potential threat because it says U.S. security agencies have access to Microsoft codes.

The remarkable aspect about the move is the domino effect. More an more nations develop their own national operating systems. Other nations in Latin America can be expected to follow the fashionable national operating system plans. It can be disputed that the security concerns are justified but software is just another new means of confrontation with the United States for the Island.

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Computers, Privacy & Data Protection conference: Data Protection in A Profiled World?

16 January 2009 – 17 January 2009 Brussels, Belgium: This event aims to offer a discussion forum for policy makers, academics, practitioners, activists and representatives from standardization bodies and ICT industries,on key issues related to data protection and privacy.

The main topic of this year’s conference is “profiling and automatic computing”. Other topics covered: e-voting and data breaches, e-privacy regulations and surveillance, privacy by design and social networks.

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