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Judge Cooke turns up the heat on Commission

Day four: Tough questions or tough love?

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MS v EC The morning Q & A session was led by Judge John D Cooke - the judge-rapporteur who will compile the Court’s final decision.

He began by questioning how far the Commission wishes to remove interoperability from the competition equation. Mr Whelan, for the Commission, said that interoperability was only the start of a process of competing.

Cooke wanted to know to what extent servers from other vendors, like Novell and Sun, were able to interoperate seamlessly as required by the Commission’s decision. Whelan said any products using open standards like L DAP do interoperate but Microsoft’s barrister Mr Forrester said Sun and Novell were not replaceable within the “blue bubble” - Microsoft’s analogy for workgroup servers' “special relationship”.

Judge Cooke turned his attention to Samba founder Andrew Tridgell and asked him if he accepted Microsoft’s assertion that communication within the blue bubble or workgroup was more intense or intimate communication.

Tridgell did not. He said: “Not only are the protocols not unique in nature within the bubble or even more intense. Printing, surprisingly, is a very intense process and it's not uncommon for client machines to even send actual code.”

Cooke turned back to Microsoft and asked if they believed that the decision meant they would have to release more than protocol specifications for a rival firm to achieve interoperability. Mr Forrester said the demand for “equivalent functionality” meant the software giant would have to hand over more than just protocols.

Mr Whelan, for the Commission, said Microsoft was exaggerating the amount of information required to achieve interoperability.

Under further questioning from the terrier-like Judge Cooke Forrester said Microsoft did not believe they could give information for interoperability without giving away patented information.

Next Cooke put the Commission back through the wringer suggesting the Commission was asking for valuable commercial information. Whelan said: “We accept it has a value to those who do not have it, and that’s its value to its owners too.®

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