back to article EC's 'Steelie' Neelie snubs Microsoft Office

European anti-trust commissioner Neelie Kroes today strongly rebuffed Microsoft by urging businesses and governments to use software based on open standards. “I know a smart business decision when I see one – choosing open standards is a very smart business decision indeed,” said Kroes. “No citizen or company should be forced …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smart business decision. Oh really!

    "I know a smart business decision when I see one..." Oh really. Most business folk would look at any business decision from a wide range of perspectives - effectiveness; finance; profitability; reliability; support etc - but clearly not the EU. They just trot out good old Euro-prejudice. Is it any wonder that IT based services across the EU are in such a mess when people like this make the decisions.

    This is of course the same EU that is only to happy to slap on a protective tariff when it suits its own - usually to the financial detriment of its citizens....but that's different...oh really, is it!

  2. Alex Wright

    That fine...

    Has Microsoft actually paid yet?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ That fine...

    Nope. Quote from The FT dated May 9 2008:

    "Microsoft said on Friday it would appeal against the record-breaking $1.4bn (€899m) fine imposed by Brussels two months ago because of the software group’s failure to comply with demands that it end anticompetitive business practices."

  4. Kwac

    @Smart business decision.

    I don't recall any 'anti-American' bile when the USA fined them.

    I thank God every night that good ole' G.W. Bush stopped the company being broken up.

  5. alain williams Silver badge

    It pays M$ to delay

    the longer that it can prevent widespread adoption of ODF (a file format where users can really choose from competing word processors) the longer it can continue to milk businesses and individuals world wide. MS is desperate to prolong its desktop monopoly - MS does not want to compete on a level playing field.

    Remember: this affects everyone, it is not some abstract action - the EU is acting to protect the best interests of EU citizens.

  6. Michael

    @Smart business decision

    ....sorry , I wasn't listening ... what was that about prejudice?

  7. wulff heiss
    Dead Vulture

    @AC - Smart business decision

    i don't get your point - what is NOT smart about supporting an open standard? (and for support and all the stuff you dream of receiving, the "open standard" does even work with MS Office nowadays)

    where is this icon for "totally confused"?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Getting ODF as EU standard could hurt MS a lot more than fine

    The problem is that OOo is about halfway ready.

    It does all the good stuff, but some things are completely overengineered. This whole data source malarky for merges is not going to work for a mom and pop shop who just want to send out a couple of letters - FAR too complicated.

    And there is a real need for an Outlook replacement. Break that, you break the stranglehold. It's no use pretending separate programs (Thunderbird, Sunbird) are the solution - the UI (at least the Office 2000 version) was quite usable, and unlike Thunderbird you can segregate email into separate archives.

    Maybe if IBM did something sensible with Notes like sticking an interface on it that actually works there would be an option (it's FAR, FAR safer as infrastructure than Outlook plus Exchange) but I can't see that happen. They've had years and didn't do a thing.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    The Standard?

    To be honest, the standard is basically what everyone else uses. Look throughout the history of most technology and standards evolve out of successful technology - not the other way around. One example is the control systems of cars which went through various evolutions until the modern Accelerator/Brake/Clutch system was installed on one car, copied onto another very successful car and then became standard. With office technology the standard has been Microsoft Office for a long time, basically since WordPerfect shot itself in the foot back in the mid-90s. ODF is just a pipe-dream until Microsoft shoots itself in the foot, which some would argue has been done with Vista and Office 2007.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    yes really

    As a monopoly, microsoft must comply with the laws of europe, and not illegally leverage products.

    I find it pathetic that the IE7 update, if you aren't careful, changes your search page.

    And by default it has Windows Live search in the top right hand search box.

    Why do this kind of thing? If Windows live search was twice as good as google instead of being half as good as google, we'd all be flocking to windows live search.

    So the above behaviour is an attempt to win by underhand means.

    That is *very* pathetic.

    The fact is that the legal people DO have our best interests at heart (it's their job to protect the market), and Microsoft have their (not your) interests at heart. Microsoft want to lock you into a solution for the next 10 years, because that's a money printing operation.

    Personally I think if Microsoft had really changed, and focussed more on making great products instead of wasting all this effort on lock-in and leveraging, they'd be in a far better tactical position in the market right now.

  11. Eric

    Competing word processors

    What products compete with office?

    Open office? lol. What a joke.

    Although to be honest, anyone still passing around static documents by email or comedy revision management systems like sharepoint deserves what they get.

    As was already mentioned, Notes/Domino does document management way better than anyone else. If they hadn't gone down some terrible design paths and then kept them for backwards compatability, we'd all be on Notes today.

    It boils down to Microsoft writing the only office suite that doesn't suck loads of balls. Open Office will be ready for enterprise/desktop use about the same time linux is.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    @Smart business decision. Oh really!

    .. why AC if you speak the truth? Perhaps you really work for MS and don't want us to know.

    Make better products, not everyone wants or needs windows. Some do and it's ideal for others, but that doesn't mean we should loose our choice in the matter.

  13. Mark
    Gates Halo

    Re: The Standard?

    What? Like TCP/IP? Ethernet? ASCII? IEEE Floating point numbers?

    Those standards didn't turn up from proven tecnhology. Token Ring was The Dog's Doobries. But you had to pay mucho dinero to use it, so the Ethernet was used, because it worked nearly as well, was cheaper to implement and wasn't propriatory.

    Similarly with the rest of it.

    Your post is a cheap and incoherent rant at anything that isn't Blessed By MicroSoft. You've bought SO HARD into the corporate mindset that you can't believe that cooperation may help much more than competition.

    And the US used to have these things called "Barnraising" where one house is too much for one person to build, so they cooperated and built the houses of each person in turn.

    Seem to have forgotten it in their religious fervor of Capitalism and it's prophet The Free Market.

    (Icon: proof the sun does shine from there and his head is within it's confines).

  14. Dunstan Vavasour

    Her most insightful statement ...

    "Where interoperability information is protected as a trade secret, there may be a lot of truth in the saying that the information is valuable because it is secret, rather than being secret because it is valuable."

    The whole speech isn't that long - take ten minutes to read the whole thing:

  15. Colin

    @Smart business decision. Oh really!

    This from the man that oh so obviously knows everything about good business practice. So you are obviously very happy with your "Microsoft" world, isn't that nice for you? The only thing is the rest of us all seem to know that when you have companies like Microsoft strangling all the competition, that all you get is stagnation.

    Only mental defectives like you and that congenital idiot in the White House think that this is a good thing. When your turn comes to use the shared family brain cell, perhaps you will understand the concept of competition leading to better solutions and products for us all. Until then perhaps you should keep what laughingly passes for your thoughts to yourself.

  16. E. Peeters


    Good grief Colin. Why the vitriol?

  17. GrahamT
    Thumb Down

    Not practising what they preach...

    I was at a meeting on Friday where a group from the European Commission (not EU - they were quick to point out) gave a presentation. They used the latest and greatest version of MS PowerPoint, not OpenOffice Impress, which could have presented the bog standard static slides in exactly the same manner.

    I was, therefore, quite amused to see several "Application is not responding..." boxes pop up when they tried to change presentations during the coffee break.

    They also seemed to be unfamiliar with the workings; each of the three presenters using a different method to start the slide show - but then they were civil servants not marketing or IT types.

    (By the way, referring to the EC as the EU, as the Reg does in this article, is the equivalant of calling the Civil Service "the UK", or the DoHS "the US". The EU is a collection of states with an elected parliament, the EC is the collection of - unelected - civil servants that do all the admin.)

  18. Anonymous Coward


    "Open office? lol. What a joke."

    Go on Eric - rather than laughing at yourself, would you care to explain this joke, because I'm sure we'd all enjoy the laugh? And what about the dozen other applications that support ODF - have you tested all of those too?

    "Open Office will be ready for enterprise/desktop use about the same time linux is."

    Oh I see. How about this then: - that's 70000 desktops being migrated to Linux.

    And if you care to use a search engine like Google, you will find plenty of other examples. But I wouldn't bank on it that you'd get the same results with Microsoft Live Search...

  19. GrahamT

    Correction: @Not practising what they preach...

    It is not *this* article that confuses EC and EU, (sorry Kelly) but this article

    However, many ACs commenting above don't seem to know the difference.

    (Where is the icon for "smites forehead, one ohno-second after posting")

  20. Niall

    @"Open office? lol. What a joke."

    I don't get that. I use Open Office all the time, and I haven't found anything that it can't do that MS Office does.

    In fact I find the spreadsheet app has much nicer graphing options than I had previously in MS Office, and I've used it to do some fairly complex analyses.

    Ignoring Open Office is a bit like ignoring the large elephant sitting in the corner of your room. You're scared, I get it. But sooner or later you should investigate some alternatives to MS because those who have tend not to look back.

  21. Colin

    @ E. Peeters question of "why?"

    Because I am sick to death of the Fanboy BS touted anytime someone criticises Microsoft for their product's business practices etc. Just because someone is happy with a product does not mean that the company who produces that product should be allowed to ignore competition laws. Microsoft has been shown to routinely break these laws and then refuses to pay any fines levied against them for doing so.

    In th USA they appeal any ruling made against them and drag it out through the courts for as long as they can until they find a corporate friendly government in place who will overturn the desicion. This is exactly what Bush did for them and what they are hoping the EU Commission will do.

    It's about time the EU Commission told Microsoft, "Pay the fines now or we will allow european software developers to reverse engineer your code and produce Open Windows!" If Redmond thought for an instant that the EU meant it they'd soon pay the fine and obey EU laws.

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