EU antitrust welcome for Vista

XAML lacks interop information, critics says

Microsoft will launch Vista on Tuesday to a fresh wave of antitrust concern. The Brussels-based pro-interoperability group ECIS issued a statement today which condemned the new release of Windows for embodying bad practices.

"Vista is the first step in Microsoft‘s strategy to extend its market dominance to the Internet," said ECIS chairman Simon Awde in a prepared statement.

The group pointed to the new user interface description language XAML, which can be used for interactive web pages as well as GUI applications, as well as ongoing concerns about an open document format. Microsoft has fast-tracked its own preferred XML-based format for office documents OOXML, in preference to the ODF (Open Document Format) specification preferred by public sector organisations.

Although Microsoft's published version runs to some 6,000 pages, critics say it omits interoperability information for key areas such as scripting and rights management.

It does, however, require developers jump through some hoops, and ensures some curious ancient Microsoft coding bugs are preserved:

One developer notes how "[OOXML] ... requires that implementations replicate a Microsoft bug that dictates that 1900 is a leap year, which in fact it isn't," for example.

"Similarly, in order to comply with OOXML, your product would be required to use the WEEKDAY() spreadsheet function, and therefore assign incorrect dates to some days of the week, and also miscalculate the number of days between certain dates."

A spokesperson for the European Commission's competition office told us that ECIS had made a complaint a year ago, and updated it in December, which the department was examining.

The Commission last engaged with Microsoft last autumn, raising concerns over access to the kernel by third party security developers. ®

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