Europe's not finished with Microsoft

Microsoft's troubles in Europe are far from over, as Neelie Kroes, The EU competition commissioner, has warned. We review the past and future options for Microsoft and the European Commission.

The Commission's examination will therefore focus on all these areas, including the question whether Microsoft's new file format Office Open XML, as implemented in Office, is sufficiently interoperable with competitors' products."

In a press conference to announce Microsoft's latest fine, the EU competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes, emphasised that "a press release does not necessarily equal a change in a business practice. And if change is needed... then the change will need to be in the market, not in the rhetoric."

She also said: "There are lessons that I hope Microsoft and any other company contemplating similar illegal action, will learn.

. Talk, as you know, is cheap; flouting the rules is expensive.

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. We don't want talk and promises, we want compliance.

. If you flout the rules you will be caught, and it will cost you dear."

Proprietary protocols are anathema to network computing and a deliberate hindrance to innovation and competition in computing environments. Few of the players, or users, maintain the illusion that a Microsoft-only world is either desirable or attractive - and the accusations of ballot stuffing, bribery, and undue political influence that surrounded the acceptance of OOXML as a standard by the ISO has only served to emphasise this reality.

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