EU rejects Microsoft's licence

By EDRi · March 24, 2005

The European Commission has rejected Microsoft’s proposal to comply with
the EU anti-trust ruling. Microsoft needs to enable other software
providers to interoperate with computers that run the Windows operating
system. But the proposed Microsoft server interoperability licence
contains a number of serious flaws including unjustifiably high royalty
fees and the exclusion of open source vendors, according to the

In March 2004 Microsoft got a record fine of 497 million euro after a
five-year investigation by the Competition Commissioner into Microsoft’s
business practice. According to the Commission’s ruling Microsoft’s
illegal business practice has enabled it to acquire a dominant position in
the market for work group server operating systems and has significantly
weakened competition on the media player market. As a remedy the
Commission ordered Microsoft to offer a version of Windows without bundled
media player and to share more technical information with server rivals.
Microsoft has paid the fine but is still negotiating with the Commission
how to comply with the remedies after losing an attempt to suspend the
sanctions at the EU Court of Justice.

Microsoft announced that it will offer a server interoperability licence
that will give competitors access to server communication protocols. But
the Commission has rejected the proposed license because open source
vendors are excluded, the price of the license is too high and it requires
competitors to take an all-in-one licence for different protocols.

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) filed the original complaint
with the commission that Microsoft’s proposed licensing terms made it
impossible for companies that write open source software to compete on a
level playing field. The Microsoft licence allows free software projects
like Samba to use the software interface information, but bans it from
publishing the software as free software. “Obviously, while paying
royalties is not impossible [..], with Free Software nobody knows exactly
how many copies using a certain program are circulating, as free software
is allowed to be copied as often as necessary, freely”, says Stefano
Maffulli, from the Italian FSFE.

The Commission is also critical of the quality of the stripped-down
Windows version and has rejected Microsoft’s proposal to limit the powers
of a non-partisan trustee to monitor its compliance with EU-imposed

Microsoft’s draft licence, step by step (18.03.2005),39020463,39191959,00.htm

Free Software Foundation Europe press release (11.02.2005)

EU Court confirms Commission’s decision against Microsoft (29.12.2004)