Feeds

MS listens to PC OEMs – two years later

Nothing to do with investigations, honest...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Microsoft has described its removal of the 'you can't sue us' clause from its licensing deals just as the Japanese Fair Trade Commission took an interest in it as "pure coincidence" - but if so it's a very strange coincidence indeed. The clause in question is the 'non assert' clause in the company's arrangements with PC companies, and it means that these companies have to agree not to enforce hardware patents that relate to Windows software - i.e., if they add innovation to their PCs, they're effectively handing the rights over to the general Windows cause, and if they don't sign, they don't get the Windows licence.

But no more - Windows licence agreements from August onwards will not contain this clause. According to Microsoft, the company "recently reviewed this provision again after receiving comments on it from some of its OEM customers." Which is nice, kind, and true, after a fashion. Microsoft did receive comments from one OEM in particular, Sony, in January 2002. This comment, a long and detailed argument on the subject of forced IP theft, came to Microsoft via the commentary period at the tail-end of the MS-DoJ settlement. Sony objected long and loud to this very clause, and complained that Microsoft was at that time forcing it to comply with the "uniform" licensing contracts. Previously, Sony had managed to hold out, but Microsoft was throwing its weight around more after the DoJ had negotiated the deal that was supposed to control it.

In a statement, Microsoft claims that the clause had passed muster with the European Commission in 2001, the DoJ in the mid-90s and with the DoJ again in the antitrust action. The Commission begged to differ earlier this week, and Microsoft fails to mention that it didn't pass muster with Sony. But the Commission didn't take action in 2001, Sony's objections in 2002 didn't have any impact, and it's only now that Microsoft's seen fit to react to OEM representations.

The European Commission did however begin investigating Microsoft's relationships with PC companies in October of last year,with specific reference to IP licensing, while last month the Japanese FTC raided the company's Tokyo office as part of a similar investigation.

So, nobody forced Microsoft to drop this kind of clause at the time of the consent decree, the DoJ didn't do anything about it again in 2002, the Commission didn't start doing anything about it until October, and it didn't start getting seriously hot in Japan until last month. But it's a coincidence, and given that Microsoft claims it's all perfectly legal in all three territories, we presume all of the OEMs have been saying nice things about the clause to Europe and Japan. After all, if they haven't complained (apart from Sony) for 15 years or thereabouts, according to Microsoft, they must be happy, right? So it's a puzzle why it's being dropped. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Be real, Apple: In-app goodie grab games AREN'T FREE – EU
Cupertino stands down after Euro legal threats
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
First in line to order a Nexus 6? AT&T has a BRICK for you
Black Screen of Death plagues early Google-mobe batch
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.