Microsoft prepares legal tack to control Windows API in Europe

Rohit Khare (
Wed, 31 Jan 96 15:17:38 -0500

This is a good line:

> "The API-W will not provide any value for our customers
> or the industry," said Hugo Lunardelli, open systems and
> standards manager at Microsoft Europe in Paris.


By Torsten Busse
InfoWorld Electric

Posted at 11:13 AM PT, Jan 31, 1996

MUNICH -- A European effort to establish a Windows programming interface
specification as an international standard not controlled by Microsoft Corp.
is temporarily on hold.

But not for long.

The Geneva-based European Computer Manufacturing Association (ECMA) is giving
Microsoft until the end of next month to submit evidence that the planned
publication of the Windows specification would violate Microsoft's
intellectual property rights, an ECMA official said.

ECMA members in December agreed to submit its Applications Programming
Interface for Windows (API-W) specifications to the International Standards
Organization (ISO) for fast-track approval.

But although the specifications are finished and the move has been approved,
ECMA will wait to hear the legal arguments Microsoft is preparing before
initiating the formal ISO approval process, said Jan van den Beld, ECMA
secretary general.

"We've been asking Microsoft for over a year now for the evidence that the
API-W would violate any patents or intellectual property rights," van den Beld
said. "But we haven't seen any evidence so far," he said.

Although Microsoft made a last-minute appeal to the ECMA assembly last
December, it failed to present any evidence, van den Beld said.

Microsoft is in the process of preparing a legal statement but the company
would not elaborate on the content or the evidence it will present.

If ratified by ISO, future changes and additions to the Windows API would be
made through an open, public process and no longer reside in the hands of
Microsoft, Van den Beld said.

Having a public Windows API standard will make it easier for programs written
to the Windows interface to run on Unix, OS/2 or the MacOS, ECMA said.

"Structures and interfaces need to be defined in publicly available and
controlled documents such as the API-W standard," Van den Beld said.

Microsoft is fighting ECMA's effort, describing it as an competitor-driven
attempt to take control of its technology and as potentially confusing for
customers, such as U.S. federal agencies, which are required to purchase
ISO-approved products.

Microsoft also says its APIs are available for public comment as part of the
company's open design process.

"The API-W will not provide any value for our customers or the industry,"
said Hugo Lunardelli, open systems and standards manager at Microsoft Europe
in Paris.

"The [ECMA] specifications are useless because they have already existed for
a long time," Lunardelli said, adding that Microsoft's existing Windows
software development kit documents every Windows API.

Microsoft is concerned that ECMA is trying to take control of technology that
it owns.

"If you look at the technical committee that drafted the API-W specifications
you find a bunch of companies which are not known to be our allies,"
Lunardelli said.

"Companies such as Sun [Microsystems Inc.], Novell [Inc.] and IBM working for
the good of the industry on the Win API? It's somewhat hard to believe they
are just driven by customers' interests," he said.

ECMA said if by the end of February Microsoft fails to present concrete
evidence that the API-W infringes its intellectual property rights, the
organization will approach ISO and submit the specifications.

ISO member organizations will then vote on the proposal, a process which will
take six months.

If it comes to that point Microsoft intents to lobby ISO not to approve the
specifications, Lunardelli said.

Tortsen Busse is a correspondent for the IDG News Service, an InfoWorld affiliate.

Copyright ( 1996 InfoWorld Publishing Company