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MS to offer Europe extra antitrust ‘concessions’

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The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Microsoft is attempting to settle the European antitrust matter with what it describes as concessions going beyond those offered as part of the MS-DoJ settlement in the US. The offer preempts Europe's verdict on the company's activities, which was originally due early this year but now seems to be in a holding pattern pending the verdict on MS-DoJ in the US.

The offer would also seem to preempt Microsoft actually offering it - the European Commission earlier today was saying it hadn't actually received the proposals yet, although Microsoft European attorney John Frank has been spinning them up to the press.

There would seem to be two elements to what Microsoft is about to offer the Commission. The company says it won't assert its IP rights over its Common Internet File System (CIFS) and Server Message Block (SMB) technologies, and that it will put CIFS forward as an Internet standard. Note that although this sounds a little like offering something as an open Internet standard, that is not precisely what Microsoft is saying. Count the teeth of this horse, friends.

As regards SMB, the company says it will begin offering its proprietary SMB enhancements for license. This could conceivably help the likes of Samba, but it'll depend on the Ts & Cs, which we don't as yet know.

Overall, there's probably less to this than meets the eye, and the concessions are unlikely to satisfy Microsoft's antagonists, or change the Commission's verdict, as and when it feels ready to deliver it. Frank did however tip a little more of Microsoft's strategy for dealing with Europe by telling Associated Press that it is "not workable" to have a different set of rules in Europe from "what's emerged from the four years of litigation." So, plan A, make a noise about extra concessions, plan B, try to rattle the Commission about getting out of step with and offending its US equivalent. ®

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