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Samba speaks as commission interveners cut in

Day four: more interoperability

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MS v EC The Court of First Instance reconvened this morning to hear from the European Commission's interveners - witnesses and experts who support its case.

But first we had some welcome light relief - commission barrister Mr Whelan apologised for the absence of his colleague Per Hellstrom who became a father at 5am this morning. Court president Bo Vesterdorf offered his congratulations.

Mr Flynn, representing all the commission’s interveners, reminded the court that he represented the world’s largest patent holder and the world’s second and third largest software companies. Far from the beguiling picture painted by Microsoft of an interoperable world, Mr Flynn showed there are problems in the market that are worsening, and the opening up of APIs is the only way to solve them.

Flynn called on Samba founder Dr Tridgell. He said: “I was very flattered by the comments from Microsoft yesterday that Samba provides a complete interoperability solution. I’d love to use those comments on the website…if they were true.”

He said Samba was a long way from offering a complete interoperability solution - it was only up to NT4, or 10 years behind. Samba had itself changed direction in response to Microsoft's attitude to interoperability. He described the process by which Samba uncovers the protocols as slow and inefficient - "we’re always playing catch up".

Tridgell said Microsoft was making a meal of providing the protocols, as the programming task of creating them was split. First, a developer would describe the interface in an IDL file and then go on to write the implementation or write the code. The relevant IDL files could be put on a floppy disk. He said Samba had some 13,000 lines of IDL files and believed the total to be 30,000 lines long.

He said Microsoft’s “blue bubble” was a barrier of secrecy and nothing more. The protocols are exactly the same within the bubble as outside, except they are secret.

The court heard that the protocols are based on industry standards which had been extended or effectively hijacked by Microsoft.

Flynn finished by saying: "Information is not kept secret because it is important, but in fact is important because it is kept secret. Microsoft’s use of standards created by third parties is particularly pernicious behaviour."®

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