Confusion over Microsoft concessions to EC

13 March 2002 Microsoft claims to have made concessions to the European Commission’s (EC) anti-trust authorities in a bid to avoid fines and other sanctions for anti-competitive behaviour.

Microsoft says it has agreed to release technical data on its controversial implementations of the ‘Kerberos’ authentication protocol, as well as ‘Common Internet File System’ (CIFS), an Internet standard used for file-sharing.

The software giant has pledged to increase the degree of compatibility between its implementations of Kerberos and CIFS and those of rival operating system vendors. Microsoft caused a storm of controversy when it released Windows 2000 in February 2000 because its implementation of the Kerberos standard only worked with other Microsoft systems.

Part of the problem is the result of a specification by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which invented Kerberos, which gives vendors too much leeway in terms of interpretation and implementation of the standard.

Microsoft said that it has offered to let competitors license its Kerberos and CIFS technology, which ought to help them overcome these inter-operability problems.

The company’s move is intended to help it avoid months of protracted wrangling, but analysts suggest that EC competition commissioner Mario Monti will demand further concessions, particularly in terms of the software packages that come bundled with Windows operating systems.

However, European press reports today suggest that Monti has denied even receiving the proposals, further confusing the situation. If talks between the EC and Microsoft break down, Monti can levy a fine on the software vendor amounting to up to 10% of worldwide sales.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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