RealTime IT News

Rivals Say Vista Still Violates EU Ruling

A group of Microsoft  rivals likely won't be attending any of next week's parties for the much-ballyhooed launch of Windows Vista operating system for consumers.

Instead, the European Commission for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) is charging Microsoft with extending behavior with Vista that European regulators already found illegal with Windows XP in its 2004 antitrust ruling.

The group, which includes IBM, Adobe, Nokia, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, Corel, RealNetworks and Red Hat, is claiming that XAML, a declaritive mark-up language that Microsoft uses for its Web developer products and tools is a plot to replace HTML and help Windows applications dominate the Internet.

XAML is Microsoft's declarative markup language for the Windows Vista Presentation Foundation (formerly known as Avalon). It is based on XML and uses tags to help Web pages describe what's presented on-screen.

Along with XAML, Office 2007 includes the Open XML (OOXML) file format that the ECIS fears will trump its preferred format, ODF, which was ratified as an international file standard last year. ODF is supported by OpenOffice, as well as Sun, IBM and others. However, Microsoft's OpenXML format is one step closer to gaining International Standards Organization (ISO) approval as well.

"With Vista, Microsoft has clearly chosen to ignore the fundamental principals of the Commission's March 2004 decision," Simon Awde, ECIS Chairman, said in a statement today.

Microsoft said the timing of the release, right before Microsoft's launch of Windows Vista for consumers, is no coincidence. "We have come to expect that as we introduce new products that benefit consumers, particularly with the kind of breakthrough technologies in Office 12 and Windows Vista, a few competitors will complain," a company spokesman said.

"ECIS is a front for IBM and a few other competitors who constantly seek to use the regulatory process to their business advantage. When faced with innovation, they choose litigation." The company, which said it had received the complaint from the commission, said it would respond in due course.

Last February, the group urged the European Commission (EC) act on "as fast as possible" to address their antitrust concerns with Vista. That complaint is still being examined, EC spokesperson Jonathan Todd told internetnews.com. <

The EC said it would "closely monitor the effects of Vista in the market" and examine any complaints.

The ECIS has little hope its last-minute plea will block Vista’s launch, or prevent it from gaining a foothold with users, said Thomas Vinje, ECIS legal counsel. "The world can't and shouldn't be stopped."

In 2004, the European Commission (EC) fined Microsoft $613 million after finding it guilty of uncompetitive practices regarding the bundling of its Windows Media player with the operating system and ordered it to produce a version of Windows with the player stripped out. The penalties also required Microsoft to provide more documentation to help other companies server software interoperate with Windows.

Last year, Adobe, another ECIS member, lobbied European regulators, charging Vista and Office 2007 included PDF features. European regulators later told Adobe needed to negotiate with Microsoft over the issue.