FSFE welcomes greater user choice in browsers, warns that Free Software is excluded from interoperability
Free Software Foundation Europe congratulates the European Commission on pushing Microsoft to give users greater choice between different browsers. "The selection screen will make users aware that they can make their own choices," says Karsten Gerloff, FSFE's President. "We are glad that FSFE has helped the Commission to put limits to Microsoft's desktop monopoly."
The Commission announced today that it has settled its antitrust case against Microsoft regarding web browsers. FSFE participated in the case as an interested third party. "Microsoft has abused its dominant market position to push out competitors by tying its own browser to the Windows operating system," says Gerloff. "The company's continued refusal to comply with Open Standards also means that many websites today are designed to work only with Internet Explorer, leaving users of other browsers at a disadvantage."
The European Commission is also investigating the way Microsoft prevents competitors from interfacing with many of its desktop productivity programs. Microsoft has offered a unilateral commitment. Yet these promises are useless for Free Software developers, since they exclude commercial use of Microsoft's interoperability information.
Carlo Piana, FSFE's legal counsel, says: "The patent commitments are clearly insufficient, because they don't allow commercial exploitation. This keeps out competition from Free Software, which in many areas is the biggest competitor to Microsoft's programs. Instead, Microsoft will continue to threaten commercial Free Software developers and their customers with patent FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt)."
FSFE's President Karsten Gerloff says: "We welcome the Commission's decision to keep the interoperability investigation open while it monitors whether Microsoft's promises help to promote competition. We are confident that the Commission will take action if the commitment doesn't improve things for Free Software."