Neelie Takes to the Soapbox
Recommends that Business and Government Adopt "Open Standards"
By: Maureen O'Gara
Jun. 19, 2008 01:30 PM
“Open standards” in Neelie’s mouth is code for “open source” or at least “not Microsoft.”
“I know a smart business decision when I see one – choosing open standards is a very smart business decision indeed,” she said, summarizing her position. “No citizen or company should be forced or encouraged to choose a closed technology over an open one.”
“I fail to see the interest of consumers in including proprietary technology in standards when there are no clear and demonstrable benefits over non-proprietary alternatives.”
She claimed vendor lock-in is a government security risk and warned against standards manipulation by “narrow commercial interests.”
She presumably had both Rambus and Microsoft in mind.
“Allowing companies to sit around a table and agree technical developments for their industry is not something that competition rules would usually allow. So when it is allowed we have to look carefully at how it is done.”
“In essence,” she said, “the competition authority has to recreate the conditions of competition that would have emerged from a properly carried out standardization process.” (And she’s had such luck designing software like when she yanked Media Player out of XP.)
She even toyed with the idea of requiring dominant companies to support open standards to be able to sell their software in Europe and forcing IP disclosure in case of de facto standards to allow for interoperability.
In a clear swipe at OOXML, whose controversial journey to ISO standardized the EC is now investigating, she said, “If voting in the standard-setting context is influenced less by the technical merits of the technology but rather by side agreements, inducements, package deals, reciprocal agreements, or commercial pressure, then these risk falling foul of the competition rules.”
As part of an investigation of Office, the EC has asked European standards group about any irregularities in the OOXML process but claims, “We have not drawn any conclusions.”
For her text, click here.
(Just scroll down. It’s there.)
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