European Bureaucrat Forces Businesses to Make “a Smart Business Decision”

If open standards are always “a smart business decision” why do business managers need government bureaucrats to force that decision on them (through fining firms, like Microsoft, that sometimes favor proprietary standards)?
In fact, there are circumstances in which open standards are better for customers, and there are also circumstances in which proprietary standards are better.
To better understand these issues consult Shapiro and Varian’s Information Rules and Christensen and Raynor’s The Innovator’s Solution.

(p. C8) BRUSSELS — The European Union’s competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes, delivered an unusually blunt rebuke to Microsoft on Tuesday by recommending that businesses and governments use software based on open standards.

Ms. Kroes has fought bitterly with Microsoft over the last four years, accusing the company of defying her orders and fining it nearly 1.7 billion euros, or $2.7 billion, on the grounds of violating European competition rules. But her comments were the strongest recommendation yet by Ms. Kroes to jettison Microsoft products, which are based on proprietary standards, and to use rival operating systems to run computers.
“I know a smart business decision when I see one — choosing open standards is a very smart business decision indeed,” Ms. Kroes told a conference in Brussels. “No citizen or company should be forced or encouraged to choose a closed technology over an open one.”

For the full story, see:
JAMES KANTER. “Harsh Words for Microsoft Technology.” The New York Times (Weds., June 11, 2008): C8.

References mentioned:
Christensen, Clayton M., and Michael E. Raynor. The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2003.
Shapiro, Carl, and Hal R. Varian. Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1999.

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