Microsoft Makes a Play Date

In the crosshairs of the European Commission for failing to play nice with
others, Microsoft  announced today that is has
signed its first licensee for protocol technology under the Work Group Server Protocol Program (WSPP), the European licensing program.

The deal means that Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Quest Software  will have access to Microsoft’s protocol technology in
order to help its European customers achieve interoperability in
heterogeneous environments by, for instance, securing and managing user
identities across Unix, Linux and Java authentication systems, as well as
Microsoft’s Active Directory.

Under terms of the agreement, Microsoft will earn royalties of 5.25 percent
of net revenues generated by any Quest products that incorporate the
protocols.

Microsoft said that Quest actually signed the agreement last week, on the day that the European Commission filed a Statement of Objection that pillories Microsoft for charging too much its protocols.

Microsoft attorney Erich Andersen said the signing date is
symbolic and that “this agreement clearly shows that Quest believes the
royalties are reasonable.”

Andersen added that Microsoft is also in discussions with a number of other
potential licensees and that “the protocols that Quest licensed and other
protocols are available to any firm that is interested in licensing them.”


Microsoft may expect that this agreement will sway the commission, but the
regulators aren’t playing along. “We don’t have any comment on that,” Linda
Cain, a spokeswoman for the competition committee, told
internetnews.com.

Microsoft has until March 29 to respond to last week’s Statement of
Objection. As reported last week by internetnews.com, the commission
accused Microsoft of failing to live up the promises made in the WSPP to which the two parties
agreed following the commission’s March 2004 antitrust decision.

Under the terms of the pricing principles, Microsoft must make its protocols
available to competitors at reasonable prices and may only charge for
technological innovation.

Microsoft has claimed that its prices are 30
percent below what competitors are charging for comparable technology. And
the company disputed the commission’s assertion that innovation is the
principal basis for determining whether Microsoft is entitled to
charge for the protocols at all.

Quest is a Microsoft global gold partner and was named Microsoft’s global
ISV of the year in 2004.

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