EU to study Microsoft’s software compatibility announcement

May 22nd, 2008 - 6:23 pm ICT by admin  

Brussels, May 22 (DPA) The European Commission said Thursday it had taken note of Microsoft’s plans to improve the compatibility of its word processor with free-of-charge rival softwares. In a statement, the European Union (EU) executive said it hoped that Microsoft’s announcement that it would provide support for formats used by other open-source programmes would lead to “better interoperability and allow consumers to process and exchange their documents with the software product of their choice”.

On Wednesday, Microsoft said it will soon make it easier for users to edit and save documents with both its Office software and the Open Document Format (ODF).

In their statement, officials in Brussels said they would welcome “any step that Microsoft took towards genuine interoperability, more consumer choice and less vendor lock-in”.

But the European Committe for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) - an umbrella lobby group including Microsoft rivals such as Oracle and IBM - cast doubt on Microsoft’s intentions, seeing its announcement as a delaying tactic aimed at maintaining its market position.

“What we seem to have from Microsoft … are incomplete disclosures coupled with statements of future intention to implement earlier versions of open standards. In other words, more delay,” ECIS spokesman Thomas Vinje said in a statement.

The commission is currently probing Microsoft over complaints that it is using its dominant position to block rival web browsers and office software developers.

The EU executive has already imposed fines on the software giant worth a total 1.7 billion euros ($2.7 billion) since 2004 after finding it guilty of abusing its dominant position on the software market.

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