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Vista Accused of Violating EU Regulations

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The European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS)—a coliation made up of Microsoft rivals like Sun, Adobe, IBM, Nokia, Oracle, and Red Hat—has charged that Microsoft’s latest flagship operating system, Windows Vista, perpetuates the same practices that the European Commission found illegal almost three years ago. ECIS further charges that complaints it made to the European Commission last year have not been addressed. “With Vista, Microsoft has clearly chosen to ignore the fundamental principles of the Commission’s March 2004 decision,” said Simon Awde, ECIS Chairman.

In additional to charging that Microsoft has still not fulfilled disclosure requirements imposed by the EU so that third parties can successfully interoperate with Microsoft products, ECIS has amended its recent complaint to the European Commission regarding new technologies and features in Windows Vista and Office 2007.

According to ECS, Microsoft is positioning its XAML markup language as a replacement for HTML, and furthermore has engineered the technology to be dependent on Windows so that, by necessity, viewing standard Internet documents will require the use of Windows. ECIS also accuses Microsoft of attempting to supplant the ODF format with its own Open XML format which (currently) only runs on Microsoft platforms.

“With XAML and OOXML Microsoft seeks to impose its own Windows-dependent standards and displace existing open cross-platform standards which have wide industry acceptance, permit open competition and promote competition-driven innovation. The end result will be the continued absence of any real consumer choice, years of waiting for Microsoft to improve—or even debug—its monopoly products, and of course high prices,” said Thomas Vinje, counsel to ECIS and spokesman on the issue.

In 2004, the European Commission hit Microsoft with a record fine of €500 million and requirements that it change its business practices. Microsoft is appealing the penalty to the EU’s Court of First Instance, along with subsequent penalties assessed against Microsoft for failing to comply with the 2004 antitrust ruling.

For it part, Microsoft has consistently dismissed antitrust charges from ECIS, claiming the consortium is merely a front for IBM, Oracle, and other companies which would rather try to hamper Microsoft through litigation than by developing innovative technologies.

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