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Time To Settle

It's always slow in the U.S. around the Independence Day holiday on July 4, and this week was really no different. But in Europe, life trucks on that week as usual.
And so we have a report that Microsoft is about to get hit with a long-expected fine of at least 2 million Euros per day for failing to comply with the antitrust ruling by the European Commission that held, among other things, that the company had failed to act to make Windows Server more easily interoperable with third-party products.

Was this all necessary? That's two years of heel-dragging when Microsoft could have been, in its own interest, moving to get those interoperability specs out there. Not to mention releasing them in a form that would actually be useful instead of the unreadable mess that the EC staff says it received from them last year. Yo, guys, when you build a useful ecosystem around a core product like Windows Server, a funny thing happens -- it becomes more desirable to potential customers. Other companies figured this out a long time ago; do you think IBM's hard push on, for instance, is just because they have money they don't know how to spend? Of course not: IBM does it because it knows more people will buy its blades if useful products from third parties exist that work with those blades. Hell, Microsoft already knows this, or at least some parts of the company do -- its games team busted their butts to get third-party videogame publishers to develop for the Xbox. That did wonders to keep that machine from being a massively expensive failure.

Same thing applies here, and if Microsoft could ever get off its "we have to own it all, under our terms" high horse, it could get on with the business of making Windows Server even more attractive to the world's server admins. (Or, at the very least, it could make room for itself to find some different targets like Linux to attack to distract itself from its core mission of selling good software.) Redmond should do the smart thing: Drop the resistance, avoid the fines, do what the EC wants, and realize a few years down the road that the Commission did it a huge favor. It's not out of the question: Microsoft's strategy over the past couple of years of settling all the court cases against it, from the likes of Sun et al, cleared its path to focus on its products. It's time to do that again.