http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/3582259.htm July 01, 2002 WASHINGTON (AP) - Microsoft should be careful that its new software security plan doesn't shut out competitors, the European Union's new antitrust enforcer said Monday. The European Union will ``ensure that competitors have the capacity to offer the range of services they want to provide, including security,'' Philip Lowe said. Lowe starts work as the EU's Director General for Competition on Sept. 1. ``We have always emphasized that there should be an emphasis on interoperability,'' Lowe said. European officials have their own antitrust investigation pending against Microsoft, which is separate from the U.S. case. The European case has focused more on whether Microsoft has illegally changed commonly used industry standards in order to shut out competitors. Microsoft's new security product, called Palladium, would use Microsoft's Windows operating system and custom computer chips to encrypt data, like documents or music files, so that only the intended recipient could use them. That has raised questions among technologists and consumer advocates, who wonder whether a file encrypted using Palladium would be accessible on computers running Apple's Macintosh operating systems or the free Linux operating system. A Microsoft official, speaking on condition of anonymity, cautioned that work on Palladium is still in its infancy but said it wouldn't prefer Microsoft's operating system over competing software. Hardware specifications for the Palladium chip would be fully disclosed so other software makers could use it, the official said. But that use may not come for free. Another Microsoft official warned that competitors may have to pay license fees. Lowe's remarks were made after a speech to the American Antitrust Institute in Washington. Microsoft's competitors have told European officials that Microsoft has used its desktop monopoly in order to horn in on the market for servers, which link personal computers on networks like the Internet. Microsoft has offered some concessions -- such as disclosing more technical data to consumers -- that go beyond its proposed settlement with the U.S. Justice Department. However, the British-born Lowe said the European Union won't finish its analysis of the case until the end of the year -- after U.S. courts decide whether to approve the Justice Department settlement or impose harsher antitrust sanctions sought by nine states. ``Until Microsoft has more clarity on the U.S. side, we're not in a position'' to take action, Lowe said. ``We will be in close consultation with the U.S. on the issues it has addressed and is addressing.'' Decisions in both the federal settlement and the states' case are expected in late summer. Unlike the U.S. lawsuits, which involve changes in the way Microsoft does business, penalties in the European action could include fines of up to 10 percent of Microsoft's annual revenue. In Microsoft's case, that could add up to over $2 billion. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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