"The Commission would welcome any move towards genuine interoperability. Nonetheless, the Commission notes that today's announcement follows at least four similar statements by Microsoft in the past on the importance of interoperability," reads a frosty press release issued by the European antitrust watchdog on Thursday (see our Links Dossier on ICT interoperability).
In a conference, Steven A. Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive, announced that as a first step, the ICT giant will make public 30,000 pages of technical documentation that explains how Microsoft's software interacts. This information has been so far been kept strictly under wraps.
The move comes after strong pressure from antitrust authorities to break the illegally dominant position of Microsoft in various software markets. As a remedy, the competition watchdogs have often proposed that the IT giant should disclose some technical data in order to allow competitors to build compatible products.
The European Commission labelled the new announcement as a suggestion of "principles", but it remained to be seen whether they "would end any infringement and whether or not they are in fact implemented in practice".
Moreover, the note made clear that "the announcement does not relate to the question of whether or not Microsoft has been complying with EU antitrust rules in the past". Therefore the investigations would go ahead even though "this does not imply that the Commission has proof of infringements," pointed out the press release.