Feeds

Europe finds MS guilty, but wonders what to do about it

Have we been here before?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

The European Commission's experts have decided they should do something about Microsoft, but face two problems - how to make the solution legally watertight, and how to make it work. That, according to Reuters, means the the Commission's move against Microsoft could still be some way off.

We've noticed that Reuters is generally pretty well up on the case in Brussels, but this piece seems particularly informative. The background here is that the EU's Court of First Instance last year reversed three Commission decisions, so whereas previously the Commission could more or less work on the basis of 'what we say goes,' it's now had to get its act together better. Draft proposals are now checked for legal and technical vulnerabilities, and it appears that the Microsoft ones have failed the test.

There are two basic areas the Commission wants to tackle - server software, and Media Player. It's concluded that Microsoft is giving itself preferential treatment in links between desktop and server operating systems, and that it should therefore order Microsoft to give its rivals more information. But even if its instructions are a lot tighter than the ones in the US final settlement (which would not be difficult), it's of the view that Microsoft will try to wriggle out anyway. Whatever it does therefore has to nail the company down very tightly.

The Media Player issue differs in that the argument is really the old bundling/integration one we saw over Internet Explorer. From the consumer's point of view there clearly are conveniences and benefits offered by having a standard player come with the OS. Some - The Reg included - might argue there are associated inconveniences related to the ultimate ownership of what you thought was 'your' record collection, but the initial convenience is still pretty clear.

This consumer convenience does however impact the business of other companies who produce add-on software, and even if consumers have the ability to hide Media Player and install rival software, companies providing digital content will tend to take the easy way out, catering for the 'universal' platform that comes with the OS first, and then maybe worrying about others.

Jim Barksdale covered this during the States' phase of the US case, arguing that hiding didn't work, and that the software had to be entirely ripped out. That has the defect of breaking all apps written on the assumption that what's been ripped out exists, and is therefore an inconvenience for both consumer and developer. But that said he's right, hiding doesn't work, and the longer you leave it before you insist on rip-out, the more people you'll screw up when (or if) you do.

Alongside this you have to balance the question of how severely you inconvenience the consumer in order to impede a company's progress towards monopoly, and the extent to which you should hobble Microsoft over, say, Sun, on the basis that Microsoft is an immediate threat to competition whereas Sun is not.

Tricky questions, all. But it's probably good that the Commission is considering them, even if it does mean the final decision will be delayed for another million years or so. Better to take time to figure out the right answer than just throw a bunch of wrong ones at the problem. But what the right answer might be is certainly not immediately obvious to us. Actually, we kind of liked Jackson's 'smash it up' gambit; this quite clearly was a wrong answer, but we felt some of the right outcomes might have emerged from it as collateral damage, which would at least have been something. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Ubuntu 14.04 LTS: Great changes, but sssh don't mention the...
Why HELLO Amazon! You weren't here last time
Next Windows obsolescence panic is 450 days from … NOW!
The clock is ticking louder for Windows Server 2003 R2 users
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.