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In the News
- EU: Microsoft Isn't Complying with Antitrust Ruling
- Start-Up Company Cleans Microsoft's Chimney in Court
- Halo Effect? Apple Posts Strong iPod, Mac Sales

==== In the News ====
by Paul Thurrott, thurrott@windowsitpro.com

EU: Microsoft Isn't Complying with Antitrust Ruling
Thirteen months after the European Union (EU) issued its antitrust ruling against Microsoft, the software giant has yet to comply with two of the three requirements of the ruling, and the EU is crying foul. Microsoft was to ship a version of Windows XP that doesn't include Windows Media Player (WMP) and provide competitors with server-oriented technical information. Neither has happened, and now the EU wants a progress report.
Last month, EU Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes wrote a letter to Microsoft, asking for that progress report. Two days after that report was due, the EU is still waiting. "The deadline was April 11 and they have not respected it," an EU spokesperson said.
A Microsoft representative said that talks with the EU are ongoing and that the release of the overdue progress report was "imminent." Let's hope that's imminent as in Tax Day and not imminent as in Longhorn.
In addition to the overdue antitrust ruling requirements, the EU wants to resolve another problem with Microsoft: Basically, the EU wants to appoint a trustee that would have blanket powers to examine whether the software giant is adhering to its antitrust ruling going forward. Microsoft, however, wants to have veto powers over which information the trustee can gather. The EU has termed that request unacceptable. Kroes simply re-sent the original request and asked again that Microsoft accept the terms. This requirement, allegedly, is also holding up Microsoft's progress report.

Start-Up Company Cleans Microsoft's Chimney in Court
The US District Court for the Northern District of California has ruled that Microsoft can't ship a networking feature in the next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn, because the feature infringes on a start-up company's patents. The technology, called Microsoft Chimney, offloads networking tasks from a system's processor to an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) on the system's network adapter, leaving more power for applications. Microsoft planned to ship Chimney as part of its Scalable Networking Pack for Windows Server 2003, which was due late last year but has yet to materialize.
According to court documents, a San Jose start-up company called Alacritech claims ownership of two patents for what it calls TCP offloading technology. Alacritech shared this information with Microsoft in 1998, hoping to license the technology to the software giant. But Microsoft broke off talks and announced a surprisingly similar technology, Chimney, in May 2003. Alacritech offered Microsoft a license at that time, but was rebuffed, so the company filed a lawsuit in August 2004.
"After Alacritech discovered that Microsoft Chimney is based on intellectual property that we developed, patented, and own, we offered Microsoft a license," Alacritech CEO Larry Boucher said. "Microsoft rejected licensing terms that would be acceptable to us. We were forced to sue Microsoft to stop them from continuing to infringe, and inducing others to infringe, on our intellectual property rights."
In November 2004, Alacritech filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent Microsoft from shipping the technology as part of its Scalable Networking Pack for Windows 2003. This week, that injunction was granted, and Microsoft has 21 days to appeal. A Microsoft spokesperson says that Chimney was developed independently by the company's own developers.

Halo Effect? Apple Posts Strong iPod, Mac Sales
Apple Computer has posted record quarterly earnings and revenues thanks to strong sales of its iPod MP3 players and Macintosh hardware. Given the rampant success of the iPod in recent months, Apple's earnings aren't that surprising. What is surprising, however, is the report of Mac revenues. According to the company, Apple sold more Macs in the previous quarter than it has in any quarter since before the company launched Mac OS X back in 2001.
In the quarter ending March 31, Apple shipped 1.046 million Macintosh computers, a whopping 43 percent increase over the same quarter a year before. Most of that growth likely came from the new Mac Mini model, a $500 Mac that competes with low-end PCs.
Some analysts and Apple fans are crediting the rise in Mac sales to a so-called "halo effect" surrounding the iPod. The idea is that customers who purchase an iPod will become enamored with Apple products and will rush back to the Apple store and drop more money on a new Mac. Despite the upswing in the previous quarter, however, the halo effect is somewhat fanciful: iPods work well with PCs, but users would have to drop years of compatible hardware and software to switch to a Mac, a process that would ultimately be extremely expensive.
Regardless, one can't deny the success that Apple is currently having with both its iPod and Macs. As a long-time Mac fan, I'm happy to see this once-beleaguered system regain its footing. With a little luck and continued healthy sales, perhaps the Mac can climb out of the market-share gutter and reach a wider, more relevant audience.

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