"Regulators said [Microsoft] has not yet handed over 'complete and accurate technical specifications' to developers to help them make software for computers running Windows, printers and other devices on a network to talk to each other." (See related link.)
There are two issues at stake here. Firstly, Microsoft owes the EU a fine in the amount of '497 million. Secondly, Microsoft owes the EU complete and accurate documentation relating to their communication protocols, specifically SMB.
Now I will tackle each of these issues in the same order. Bear in mind that I made a suggestion two years ago on how to resolve this matter, and if anyone had bothered to listen, this wouldn't be a problem today.
1) Microsoft should put their $50 billion cash into an interest bearing account that earns enough money to pay the EU fine in one year of interest, and use legal delays for that period. Using an EXTREMELY conservative rate of just 1% per annum, they will make $500 million. Last time I checked, South African banks are paying a little more than 1% on a positive bank balance. First problem solved.
2) The reason Microsoft did not sue the guy who wrote Samba is because Microsoft lost the documentation for SMB a long time ago, and quite possibly the source code too. Well, this is my opinion. I might be wrong. In any event, SMB is crap. It breaks. It's insecure. If Mr Samba could sniff the SMB network traffic and reverse engineer it to write Samba, then where's the problem with the documentation? All the EU needs to do is read the source code for Samba, surely? I've heard rumours that Microsoft engineers use the Samba source code when they get confused. It sounds good enough to be true.
As an aside, as a programmer myself, the Windows API has been notoriously badly documented for as long as I can remember. When I wrote ShutOff 2000, I had to refer to existing source code to help me out with the API calls. It's just the way it is. Considering the amount of man hours that have gone into writing Windows, it's a wonder they got Windows 2000 to compile, and we're already coming into Vista territory nearly eight years later. The Secure Computing Initiative from Uncle Bill was a super idea, allowing Microsoft to revisit their own code and fix bad programming. The behemoth that is the Windows operating system can only be "fixed" and "documented" if they write it from scratch, a la Windows NT 3.1.
So, here's my proposal:
Microsoft should use their $250 million stake in Apple Computer, and use the BSD microkernel that Steve Jobs already uses in OS X. They should then emulate the Windows interface (yes, *just* the interface), in exactly the same way that Mac OS is a pretty skin on the stable BSD platform. That's it. That's all they have to do. Everything they need is already there. As for gaming platforms, it's called the X-Box 360. Cope, bitches. Gamers are NOT the biggest Windows audience. Microsoft Office, the biggest income generator for Microsoft, is ALREADY on the Mac. It's a win-win situation. You can then buy a Mac with either the Windows or Macintosh interface.
This idea is mine. If you want to use it, be sure to acknowledge me.