Microsoft, so it ends (for the good of it?)

All Good Things (TM) must come to an end. Sometimes also bad things. I take the view that the ongoing non compliance of Microsoft to Antitrust laws, and in particular to March 2004 Decision of the EC Commission, was a bad thing.

Today Commissioner Kroes issued a press statement where she claims victory and that she forced Microsoft to compliance. I have still not seen the detailed documents, but it would appear that — with the exception of the patent license — she is right.

Basically, Microsoft has accepted the idea that also Free Software developers, AKA “open source”, could access the complete and timely interoperability information that Microsoft was forced to release as early as three years ago. This is the good part of it. The bad part is that as for patents, either one has to take the risk of a patent litigation, or it must accept licensing terms incompatible with the GNU GPL. They have agreed upon a special pledge to cover the “non commercial” developers, but who is a “non commercial developer”, in the first place?

This is all I can say by now. I am looking forward to see the licensing conditions. I have seen a reasonably close version of them (though I wasn't supposed to) and they still needed some work. But they (well, the “no-patents” part) were damn close to be compatible with the GNU GPL, and if the Commission has worked out the last few details, we could have a very good deal. Time for celebration? We'll see. So far the good news is that Microsoft has waived the appeal, thus the September 17th Judgment is law.

Stay tuned!

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