Becta takes Microsoft interoperability complaint to European Commission


Becta takes Microsoft interoperability complaint to European Commission

Antony Savvas

Becta, the government's advisory body for IT in schools, has referred its interoperability complaint about Microsoft software to the European Commission.

Becta says it welcomes the European Commission's current anti-trust investigation of Microsoft concerning interoperability.

It has now referred its interoperability complaint and supporting evidence to the commission.

In October 2007, Becta complained to UK competition regulator the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), alleging anti-competitive licensing practices by Microsoft in the schools software marketplace.

It also complained about "the existence of impediments to effective interoperability in relation to Microsoft's Office 2007 product".

In January 2008, the European Commission announced that it was initiating a formal investigation in relation to Microsoft's approach to interoperability across a number of areas, including the Office suite and the introduction of a new document format - Office Open XML - which is part of that suite.

Following discussions with the OFT, Becta has now referred its interoperability complaint and related evidence to the European Commission in support of the commission's wider investigation.

At a recent meeting with the commission, Becta set out its key areas of concern and their impact on the UK education system.

Stephen Lucey, Becta's executive director of strategic technologies, said, "It is not just the interests of competitors and the wider marketplace that are damaged when barriers to effective interoperability are created. Such barriers can also damage the interests of education and training organisations, learners, teachers and parents."

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