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This article was published on May 23, 2008


Microsoft/ EU soap continues: open-source enters the set

Microsoft/ EU soap continues: open-source enters the set
Ernst-Jan Pfauth
Story by

Ernst-Jan Pfauth

Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

Who says European politics is boring? I’ve been following the Microsoft/ EU/ European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes soap with great interest. Definite highlights: the 899 million euro fine, Arrington’s emotional and beautifully written reaction – you gotta love the ATM metaphor -, and the almost forbidden Powerpoint presentations. Of course, we’re talking about real money and problems here. But who doesn’t love some juicy details?

Now a new element enters the Kroes-dominated soap: open-source. Microsoft has announced to improve the open-source compatibility of their products, making it easier for users to work together with users of an open-source rival like OpenOffice. This would give consumers a greater choice and ease Kroes’ worries down. Right?

Well here’s the official statement from the European Commission: “The Commission will investigate whether the announced support of ODF (Open Document Format) in Office leads to better interoperability and allows consumers to process and exchange their documents with the software product of their choice.”

I think it’s just a strategic move by Microsoft to distract the EU from the real problem. The average Windows user doesn’t even know what open source is, let alone use a program like OpenOffice. This step by Microsoft is just a way to create the impression of a compromising attitude. Will the EU buy it?