18 September 2006 | 3,851 views

Former Hacker Irks Microsoft in EU Dispute

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Ah the anti-trust battle continues, good to see someone with technical skills involved, I wonder how the case is coming along, I haven’t heard about it for a while.

Again this is quite an old story.

As an expert witness on digital crime, British computer consultant Neil Barrett has helped prosecutors in the United Kingdom convict murderers and pedophiles.

Now Mr. Barrett is finding out what it’s like to be on trial, as the independent trustee and chief technical expert in the European Union’s mammoth antitrust battle with Microsoft Corp.

European Commission regulators in Brussels chose Mr. Barrett from among Microsoft’s own nominees for the job of judging whether the company is complying with a 2004 EU ruling that it help its competitors design software to mesh with its nearly ubiquitous Windows operating system. Following Mr. Barrett’s scathing assessments of Microsoft’s efforts, the European Commission threatened the company with fines that could exceed €100 million, or $120 million — prompting Microsoft to attack Mr. Barrett’s competence and to accuse him of colluding with its rivals. Regulators last week rose to Mr. Barrett’s defense.

Microsoft accusing someone else of dirty tactics and colluding with competitors? That’s a new one..

In February, Microsoft responded that Mr. Barrett was operating with a “set of basic misunderstandings” about Microsoft programming terms. In another filing to the EU this month, Microsoft accused Mr. Barrett and the regulators of “actively and secretly working with Microsoft’s adversaries.”

Emails the commission gave Microsoft show Mr. Barrett in frequent contact with regulators and Microsoft competitors, which led the company to call Mr. Barrett the “commission’s co-prosecutor.” The growing brouhaha led the normally secretive commission to release the terms of Mr. Barrett’s mandate, which says he should “play a proactive role” in monitoring Microsoft — a clause the commission says gives him freedom to confer with Microsoft rivals. Even Sun Microsystems, which usually declines to comment on the case, made an exception, calling Microsoft’s criticism of him “misplaced.”

I’ll have a Google and see what’s happening nowadays with Mr Barrett.

Source: WSJ



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