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You're taking the p*ss, Europe tells Microsoft

Foot dragging, insolence and bloatware

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Microsoft continues to flout its anti-trust order, the European Commission said on Friday in two strongly worded statements. The EC has again written to Redmond explaining where it's failing to comply with a 2004 decision by the competition office.

Further study of Microsoft's submissions - it's obliged to document its protocols and interfaces - revealed them to be "entirely inadequate". For good measure, the EC compared Microsoft's protocol documentation to bloatware, and implied that Microsoft hadn't read the decision it was legally obliged to obey.

The EC said Microsoft had fundamentally misunderstood the role of its monitoring trustee Neil Barrett. His role (and here the EC draws m'learned friends' attention to paragraph 1045 of the March 2004 decision) "should not only be reactive, but should play a proactive role in the monitoring of Microsoft’s compliance".

Microsoft had accused Barrett of colluding with competitors by meeting with them regularly. In fact, that's just his job.

Rather tartly, the EU also reminded Microsoft that Barrett had been proposed by … er, Microsoft.

The commission also quotes from an independent analysis of Microsoft's protocol documentation conducted by Taeus.

Taeus compared Microsoft's submissions to a car manufacturer selling a car without wheels, handbrake, or steering wheel, and only fitting each begrudgingly after the customer complains.

Microsoft hadn't changed the submission between 29 December 2005 and meetings on 30 and 31 January, despite being asked to do so.

Taeus concluded that what documentation Microsoft had provided was "devoted to obsolete functionality", "self-contradictory" and was written "primarily to maximize volume (page count) while minimizing useful information".

Ouch.

Microsoft's fighting hard to get its documentation obligations muted. As well as trying to get Barrett thrown off the case, Microsoft has published 200 or so pages of rebuttal based on analyses it's commissioned itself.

Microsoft's strategy is designed to ensure free/open source software can't interoperate with Windows, says the Free Software Foundation Europe. ®

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