Israel slams the door on Microsoft

Antitrust shock


Exclusive In a bold assertion of independence, Israel has thrown the full weight of its antitrust legislation at Microsoft.

The Israeli Ministry of Commerce has suspended all governmental contracts with Microsoft, and indicated that the ban will last throughout 2004. The de facto suspension means no upgrades for the duration, at a time when Microsoft is looking to roll out its Office 2003 upgrade; and the Ministry is said to be examining OpenOffice as an alternative.

It's a consequence of a much-anticipated legal verdict: Israeli Antitrust Authority director general Dror Strum has finally acknowledged that Microsoft is a monopoly.

Register readers play no small part in this remarkable story. Apple users in and beyond Israel have long called for an alternative to the Microsoft monopoly that supports Hebrew. Although Apple has provided operating system-level support for Arabic, Hebrew, Urdu and other right to left languages since the release of Mac OS X 10.2 last year, Apple's largest software vendor has declined to provide support in its applications. Frustrated by lack of movement from either Microsoft or Apple to redress the balance, Apple users in Israel have threatened to sue Israel's antitrust department for failing to enforce its own laws.

As a result of the outcry, The Register was the first to report on the brewing antitrust actions.

Several groups have lobbied for Microsoft to be subjected to Israel's strict antitrust legislation. But the issue was forced by the Online Freedom Foundation lobby group, whose head Oded Lavi has fought the legal battle that brings to light a hitherto unpublished agreement between Microsoft and Israel's former Antitrust Authority director David Tadmor, signed in 1999.

The agreement specified that any restrictions imposed as a consequence of the US Department of Justice's antitrust action against Microsoft would be applied in Israel. They weren't enforced, until now. A statement issued by the State Prosecutor added that Tadmor had signed the 1999 agreement in haste, failing to consider all the options. After weathering complaints that he had procrastinated Strum was left with no option but to enforce Israel's antitrust provisions.

The decision will almost certainly focus Microsoft's attentions on supporting Urdu, Hebrew and Arabic on non-Windows platforms. ®

Related Stories

Apple Israel chief calls for 'Save Hebrew' write-in
Microsoft's Mac Hebrew snub prompts Israeli AntiTrust complaint
Mac users to MS: your Right to Left defence is Upside Down
Antitrust trouble brewing for Microsoft in Israel
Google - the only archive we'll ever need?


Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022