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EC To Support Open Standards

In what might be seen as a zinger against Microsoft, which it has fined twice on antitrust matters, the European Commission has announced that it will support opened standards and encourage interoperability in the future. Neelie Kroes, the European commissioner for competition policy, told OpenForum Europe in Brussels:

"For all future IT developments and procurement procedures, the Commission shall promote the use of products that support open, well-documented standards. Interoperability is a critical issue for the Commission, and usage of well-established open standards is a key factor to achieve and endorse it. The Commission must do its part," ZDNet reported. "It must not rely on one vendor, it must not accept closed standards, and it must refuse to become locked into a particular technology – jeopardizing maintenance of full control over the information in its possession."

The Commission fined Microsoft in 2004 for anti-competitive behavior in 2004, then levied an additional fine earlier this year when the company failed to pay the first fine. It’s also investigating the Redmond giant’s actions during voting for the ISO accreditation of Microsoft’s OOXML. Microsoft has admitted it urged partners to join their national bodies in order to push through the votes for OOXML. Kroes also addresses that issue, stating:

"If voting in the standard-setting context is influenced less by the technical merits of the technology but rather by side agreements, inducements, package deals, reciprocal agreements, or commercial pressure… then these risk falling foul of the competition rules."

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