Dad always said, "If a bully is picking on you, make friends with
a bigger bully."
That seems to be Microsoft's latest tactic in its ongoing
wrangles with the European Competition Commission. On Monday, it
sent a memo to a select list of other companies, asking them to
weigh in, not with the EU, but with the U.S. Department of Justice,
the "Financial Times" reported. Microsoft had not confirmed the
information by press time.
In statement e-mailed to internetnews.com, Microsoft said, "In
recent years, the European Commission and EU Member State
Governments have intervened in a number of competition cases and
appeals in the United States. It makes sense for the U.S. Government
to offer its views in a similar way under the procedures established
by European courts, where the issue has broad implications for the
The memo seemed to be a reiteration of Redmond's strategy of
drumming up nationalistic support. In March 2004, as it readied its
appeal of the ruling, the world's largest software vendor rallied
support from the DoJ and Washington State Senator Patty Murray.
"Today's ruling by the EU is yet another example of Europe's
consistent harassment of American industry and policies that support
our economic growth," Murray said in a statement at that time.
Assistant Attorney General, R. Hewitt Pate delivered a statement
back then as well detailing the DoJ's investigation, implying that
it should be good enough for the EU. "The United States' Final
Judgment provides clear and effective protection for competition and
consumers by preventing affirmative misconduct by Microsoft," Pate
We last left Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and new Competition
Commissioner Neelie Kroes in a tête-à-tête in which she "urgently"
told him to get busy complying with the antitrust penalties imposed
in March 2004.
The EU hit Microsoft with a $613 million fine, which it's paid.
It told Microsoft to ship a version of Windows XP sans Windows Media
Player, which it did in July.
Still at issue are the precious Windows server protocols. Windows
Server System is the key to the advanced functions of Microsoft
Office, and Microsoft had been loathe to let third-party developers
have a go at them.
Nevertheless, while it fights the EU over what it terms
compulsory licensing of its server APIs, Microsoft has made a
philosophical shift to offering its software as a service -- and to
letting others build on top of it.
When Microsoft launched Windows Live and Office Live on November
1, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates emphasized that competitors would
be able to take advantage of the same published interfaces to
Windows that Microsoft did for the Live offerings. Said Gates, "Part
of our responsibility is that we make that information available and
give people those opportunities."