EU: Microsoft's Behavior 'Unacceptable'

European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes hit out at Microsoft in comments to European parliamentarians today, saying it is "unacceptable" that the company continues to gain market share using tactics that were outlawed in the European Commission's 2004 antitrust ruling against the software vendor. Three years later Microsoft still hasn't complied with the main demand imposed by the European antitrust ruling: that the company share interoperability information inside Windows at a reasonable price to allow rival makers of workgroup servers to build products that work properly with PCs running Windows.

"Microsoft is constantly gaining market share and that is what is worrying in the workgroup server operating market," Kroes said, referring to server operating systems used to allow a team of people in an office to sign in, print and share files. She told the parliamentarians that Microsoft's market share in this sector has continued to rise since the 2004 antitrust ruling. When the Commission began its antitrust investigation in 1999 Microsoft held between 35 percent and 40 percent market share. By 2004 it rose to around 60 percent and now it stands at between 70 percent and 75 percent. "That's unacceptable," Kroes said.

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If Microsoft has 70% of market share in EU it should be oligopoly, because there such alternatives as Linux and Mac OS X. But they have very small market share and they just can't compete with Microsoft. Microsoft has all strings and can control almost all market. This why it's monopoly and monopoly is not perfect competition.

Microsoft should be pushed to 40-50% of market share, and the rest should be shared between other companies... And this is called fair competition... Economy...

One more thing, with Microsoft market isn't safe now...

david13lt said,
Microsoft should be pushed to 40-50% of market share, and the rest should be shared between other companies... And this is called fair competition... Economy...

no that's called forced mediocrity.

in an open market those with the products are allowed to sell them. if people want to buy them then they can and they will.

the fact that some bin lid hippy eu bureaucrat thinks its "unacceptable" that a company offers a product and lots of people buy it means jack...and MS will call the bluff.

Microsoft should be pushed to 40-50% of market share, and the rest should be shared between other companies... And this is called fair competition... Economy...

market share has nothing to do with fair competition. You can compete fairly while having 90% of the market as you can compete unfairly with 10%. Actions like price fixing, predatory pricing, book fixing ect is considred unfair. Having more marketshare isnt unfair competition.

IF Europe is to consider itself an "open market" like it does then it has to concede that its possible that companies will be able to take 80% or whatever share in their respective areas. Its how open markets work and if beurocrats dont like it perhaps they should move away from the system.

Looking in the books and "not perfect/unfair competition".

Hmm... If the industry is based on Windows OS and it would be hit my major catastrophe, the economy and industry would have a lot problems, fall.

It's something like internet, in Lithuania main provider would be TEO, but last day his routers went off and because of this, the whole country almost didn't have internet, credit cards didn't work even banks couldn't operate normal, we where talking something like the first exam and we had to re-write and etc. So this was a big hit for everyone...

Just imagine living in one world, there are only one "man" who controls lt.

I'll be honest, you've completely lost your point now. There isn't only "one man" there are other companies, but the people have spoken and the people have chosen Microsoft. Nobody forced companies to go with Microsoft, they chose to for whatever reason and now you're complaining about Microsoft? How about you start complaining to all the companies and tell them to switch, and then come back here and tell me how that goes. I'm sure they'll laugh right in your face.

david13lt said,
Looking in the books and "not perfect/unfair competition".

Hmm... If the industry is based on Windows OS and it would be hit my major catastrophe, the economy and industry would have a lot problems, fall.

Yes that isnt a good situation and yes it does happen but once again this is not a case of "unfair competition". These situations can be brought about by companies competing fairly.

If you want MS to have an even market share just say it but dont throw around terms such as fair competition that dont apply to your arguement because market share is not necessarily linked to a company competing (un)fairly.

MS is selling their products?!?!?! THOSE *******!!!!!

But see isn't it great to have a signle organization that rules a group of countries and deciding which products can and cant be bought? Long live democracy!

By 2004 it rose to around 60 percent and now it stands at between 70 percent and 75 percent. "That's unacceptable," Kroes said.

That's completely taken out of context. Good job Emil Protalinski, truth dies because of people like you.

"That's unacceptable," Kroes said.

Well, you better your butt in gear then, because that 70-75% doesn't exist just because Microsoft is an evil corporation. They just have the software and products people want. If that percentage goes down to 40% where you want it, who's going to fill the gap? You? Who? Linux? Actually, I don't know all the details of how Microsoft is breaking their antitrust laws, but I don't think they're living in the real world. Maybe they just don't like them because an American company is making so much money from EU countries.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: MS are #1 because they have smart businessmen, not smart programmers.

And since when have non-Windows servers been incompatible? Last thing I heard, it was all good.

Of course non-windows servers are compatible. They usually are, you know, well documented.

The problem mostly lies in the Windows server <-> non-windows client.

At the end of the day it comes down to the fact that Microsoft brought in over $44 billion dollars last year (got that from here http://www.winbeta.org/comments.php?shownews=6602) and will do whatever they want because they have the money to do it. You want to fine them, go ahead, pocket change to them. You want more court battles, they have almost as many lawyers as they do programmers. The EU can whine, complain, try to bully, and whatever else but Microsoft is going to keep doing what they want because they have the money to do it. Sorry, but they really do.

I like it that everyone on here is either bashing Microsoft or the EU when no one on here has a clue what they're talking about.

Microsoft says they're doing everything they can to get the information to the EC, but that when they do so, the EC takes their sweet time analyzing it, and then after a long time bashes them (publicly) for not doing it right, instead of telling them how to fix it. In additon, Microsoft says the EC's requirements are very poorly defined.

The EC seems to think that Microsoft is intentionally circumventing their ruling and dragging their feet.

I have a feeling it's somewhere in-between and there's a lot of posturing going on here on both sides that you have to get around to know the truth. Unfortunately, I doubt the truth will ever be known to us outsiders.

The one thing i will say is that i SERIOUSLY doubt that Microsoft's marketshare is rising BECAUSE it (allegedly) hasn't supplied the full documentation the EC wants. The EC is making it sound like a cause and effect thing, and I have a hard time believing that.

You would think its the opposite actually. That if MS hadnt provided adequate documentation to their OS then competitors in the server field would stick to Linux/Unix if its going to be easier to hook into the OS. I fail to see how MS having inadequate documentation would help them go from 30% to 70% market share in these years.

Smigit said,
You would think its the opposite actually. That if MS hadnt provided adequate documentation to their OS then competitors in the server field would stick to Linux/Unix if its going to be easier to hook into the OS. I fail to see how MS having inadequate documentation would help them go from 30% to 70% market share in these years.

Maybe because they became a "standard"? Because the undocumented protocols rise the switching costs? And because companies need to operate along with other companies that, chances are, already use MS products?

I've never had a problem with http://www.microsoft.com/msdn. Works perfectly fine. Download the Windows SDK if you want to work with any of the windows componets. If you want office down load the Office SDK. I see what there getting at. If the 3rd party companies can't understand whats in the SDK thats not MS fault. Maybe they need to learn how to multithread there applications Norton sure seems to have a problem with it on there retail programs (Thats a joke btw).

So uh....why is it MS is forced to release documentation to make their software more "interoperable", but Apple is allowed to prevent us from running MacOSX on our PCs, even though there is no technical reason why we can't? And what about IBM? They currently charge $3,000 a pop for a simple ODBC driver for DB2 (MS gives theirs away for free) -- how is that not deemed illegal in the eyes of the EU?

This isn't about making MS play on a "level playing field", this is about making the playing field tip in MS's competition's favor, simply because they are the company that currently holds the largest market share...

Ahh, I see you are one of the few who 'get' it.

If this was about putting Microsoft on "a level playing field" then every software vendor would be required to comply with these demands. If that was the case and Microsoft refused then the comments about Microsoft's behavior might be justified. But the reality is, the EU is just picking on Microsoft because its the most successful. The EU is on a cash grab plain and simple and making comments that are really shameful and embarrasing to the EU.

And what is the problem anyway? Anyone ever hear of Mac OS X server? It can support and provide services to Windows clients with minimal effort. In fact, when configured properly, Windows clients could log on, share files, print, send e-Mail and never realize they are talking to a Mac server and not a Windows one. Apple figured it out so obviously it is possible to make competing server software work with Windows clients. Obviously the information needed is there or Mac OS X Server couldn't do it. Perhaps the EU thinks Microsoft should offer up information to its competitors on a silver platter.

Because Apple does NOT have an effective monopoly on anything. Getting close with iTunes, but convicted of nothing. Microsoft has to play by EU's rules because if they dont everyone will have to play by microsofts rules. And thats ridiculous.

chaosblade said,
Well, Right now the EU is making a special set of rules for Microsoft. That is also ridiculous.

Name ONE company besides microsoft that has a 95% +/- marketshare.

CaKeY said,

Name ONE company besides microsoft that has a 95% +/- marketshare.

I dont see why market share should be the one deciding factor but. If your going to say its illegal for MS to not supply source code to do X Y and Z then it should be illegal for any company to do it be they the number one or number 21 company.

And since Apples been noted above what about their iPod and Apple store business. They have somewhere close to 80% of the mp3 player market and they use this device to leverage sales via iTunes while not letting competitors have access to their DRM. They claim they would loose the ability to control the integrity of format and ensure the right content had DRM applied but somehow MS seems to be able to share its DRM. Surely this must also be illegal since apple has that 80% market share and is using that to aid their online sales but I dont see the EU going after apple with billion dollar fines.

It's a money grab pure and simple. Companies have info to tap into windows if they need to. I mean can they prove that MS has inside methods for its applications that they dont know about or are they guessing that MS has somehow given itself an advantage as opposed to going via the same ways everyone else does. But yeah, to be honest I dont see why market share should be the factor here. It should be about what your doing not how big you are and if what MS is doing is illegal then perhaps other companies should also be provided to open their doors up as well.

If its because MS is the largest and it seems they are then really it sounds like a money grab to me.

chaosblade said,
Well, Right now the EU is making a special set of rules for Microsoft. That is also ridiculous.


This is not the first anti-trust case in EU, nor is it even the biggest.

Stop acting as it this was somehow special. It's not, deal with it.

The EU are known for interferring in pointless issues which no one really cares about. As such, their inane blather about Microsoft is standard policy.

reech said,
The EU are known for interferring in pointless issues which no one really cares about. As such, their inane blather about Microsoft is standard policy.

I agree. I think the EU behavior is a bit beyond acceptable. Just because they don't like capitalism, doesn't mean that it gives them the right to try to destroy it ... especially when it's in another country.

EU are an unelected body of bufoons.

They make up the rules as they go along.

Hitler tried to make a super state, I say the UK out now before the EU nazis (loosely said) take over our heart, mind and body!

leesmithg said,
EU are an unelected body of bafoons.

They make up the rules as they go along.

Hitler tried to make a super state, I say the UK out now before the EU nazis (loosely said) take over our heart, mind and body!


That's a fairly shocking comment and one that no doubt could only come from a 'bufoon'.

EU judges are not elected.[/quote]

Thanks God they are not so they are not replaced after an election or if they do not get along with what the ruling party dictate. Check CNN to see what happens in the US with our "brilliant" legal system.

beardedwonder said,

That's a fairly shocking comment and one that no doubt could only come from a 'bufoon'.

These are of course the same EU buffoons that tried to legislate what constituted a banana by measuring angles in the curve.

That's why they were choose people with business environment experience to police business. The average Joe just can't understand how the market works nor can he understand the importance of keeping the market balanced.

So the EU doesn't expect you to understand or care about their actions. Their actions are designed to benefit the market in general. That's why they aren't targeting you

How is preferring Symantec and Mcaffee's products over the rest and making Vista inherently more insecure for them is balancing the market?

Microsoft is using illegal business tactics. The EU doesn't like it. The EU governs the European market - Microsoft needs to comply with the EU in order to operate within its territory. Seems pretty simple to me. I hope that they go after Apple as well for strangling the market by refusing to licence their DRM to competitors.

People can complain all they like but I am all for the EU sticking up for the consumer. I'd rather they didn't have to take any action and Microsoft could operate fairly but that clearly isn't the case.

Illegal business tactics isn't relevent anymore. The issue at hand is the interoperability factor which the EU refuses to define.

It'd be like the EU saying you can't come into their country unless you're "more nice". Anyone can say "hey, he's a meanie!" and is the EU jumps. That's not appropriate. They may make the rules, but noone in the rest of this world takes those definitions of "legal rulings" seriously with that horrible detail.

MS even supplies full source code and still the EU doesn't think that's good enough. What do they really expect, MS to write their own competition's software for them? Uh... no?

mram said,
What do they really expect, MS to write their own competition's software for them? Uh... no?

Yes, that's obviously what they expect.

As for your main point... the EU has dictated that Microsoft must open up protocols/APIs to competitors at a reasonable price - it has obviously come to the conclusion that Microsoft hasn't done this. That seems a definable outcome in my opinion. Microsoft keeps conveniently "discovering" new APIs that is had forgotten to previously include and it is THIS behaviour that the EU has a problem with.

mram said,
Illegal business tactics isn't relevent anymore. The issue at hand is the interoperability factor which the EU refuses to define.

It'd be like the EU saying you can't come into their country unless you're "more nice". Anyone can say "hey, he's a meanie!" and is the EU jumps. That's not appropriate. They may make the rules, but noone in the rest of this world takes those definitions of "legal rulings" seriously with that horrible detail.

MS even supplies full source code and still the EU doesn't think that's good enough. What do they really expect, MS to write their own competition's software for them? Uh... no?

Illegal business and interoperability (or the lack of it) are quite tied here.

EU refusing to define what? The ruling looks quite clear to me, and even MS seems to understand what they are being asked for as they recently made some more protocols available for license. Dragging their feet as usual.

And no, source code is not the same. First, not everyone has access to it, and second, the point is integrating your software with MS stuff, not getting tied to NDAs and turning development into a walk through a minefield.

Dragging their feet as usual.

Met all the dates. I'll take it from this comment alone that you have some kind of bias.

...the point is integrating your software with MS stuff, not getting tied to NDAs and turning development into a walk through a minefield.

That's not Microsoft's problem. Seriously, what do you expect? I go back to my flippant comment -- do you really expect Microsoft to write all the software for you? You've got API documentation out the heiney on MSDN. You've got source code for anything that isn't patented at the minimum.

I don't care if you write your own OS in Sanskrit, if you publish APIs and give the code out, it's is my problem that I can't read Sanskrit.

Here's the bit that I find the most humorous (from the article in question of this post):

"Microsoft is constantly gaining market share and that is what is worrying in the workgroup server operating market," Kroes said, referring to server operating systems used to allow a team of people in an office to sign in, print and share files.

For pete's sake, someone call the Samba group! This is fuel for another US lawsuit! Evil Microsoft is cutting into the free market by (gasp) charging someone for an alternative they can get for free!

mram your comments leave me the conclusion you're not a software programmer for sure. There is LOTS of APIs in Windows, .NET, and subsequent technologies that are not documented in MSDN. Anyone who writes any realistic amount of code knows this...

The EU isn't asking MS to do anything overly complex or particularly harmful. They are simply asking MS to document the interfaces so competitor software can communicate with their software. MS would also be paid licensing fees by their competitors for using that information. Can't get any better than that...

As has been previously said, MS has the obligation to obey the EU laws. If they think they are crazy than comply and appeal in court. Otherwise, if they don't want to comply pull out of the EU market. Ignoring the laws of any jurisdiction that you are subject to is unethical and illegal. They should be punished for it.

Also, software is a lot different than other industries. It can change VERY rapidly and the full internal parts cannot be seen. After market car part makers can design parts for a car without getting data from the manufacturer because their not faced with a situation where the car can change over time (the same model year not model year to model year). In order for the software industry to flourish there has to be interoperability standards in place. Competition drives an industry...

Your understanding of both business and software programming have proven to be very limited so I'm not sure you can accurately choose a side.

frazell said,
mram your comments leave me the conclusion you're not a software programmer for sure. There is LOTS of APIs in Windows, .NET, and subsequent technologies that are not documented in MSDN. Anyone who writes any realistic amount of code knows this...

Nice assumption. Apparently you didn't read the part of the EU requirements which state that anything not patented or innovative technology must be documented. I don't care to admit that MS might be the worst API publisher in the world. However, that doesn't belittle the point that they have complied with the strict letter of the requirement, the onus is on the EU to define the vagueness.

Also, software is a lot different than other industries. It can change VERY rapidly and the full internal parts cannot be seen. After market car part makers can design parts for a car without getting data from the manufacturer because their not faced with a situation where the car can change over time (the same model year not model year to model year). In order for the software industry to flourish there has to be interoperability standards in place. Competition drives an industry...

Your understanding of both business and software programming have proven to be very limited so I'm not sure you can accurately choose a side.

As can you. Once you read the findings and how MS has complied you can decide whether the EU is just being a bully, or actually trying to play fair. In order to play fair you have to have clearly defined rules. Foul #1 was on the EU.

mram said,
However, that doesn't belittle the point that they have complied with the strict letter of the requirement, the onus is on the EU to define the vagueness.
.

How many times has MS supposedly complied? Each time the EU stated the relseased doc was not complete (not the EU itself mind you, but experts MS themselves recommended), they're accused of being greedy and not clear... and all those times MS finally comes with another little piece of documentation that was unsurprisingly missing in the previous release.

If that's not dragging your feet then wtf is it?

If MS doesn't understand they're being asked for documentation for ALL the APIs needed to interoperate with their products, if that's not clear enough for them, then they seriously need to improve their reading skills.

The EU ruling insinuates Microsoft should give away proprietary information. No other market leader has to do this. The EU wants MS to "share interoperability information" -- well gee, as it's been pointed out, MSDN is pretty damn good. The problem is (and we've seen companies threaten to do this or even do it outright) that people can abstractly claim "Microsoft isn't letting us code well on their system" and complain to the EU.

Remember PatchGuard? People are all over the fence on that one. Good, reliable, honest, hardworking coders have no problem with it. Symatec and Mcafee complained to the EU stating that Microsoft is violating agreements. What?!?

Microsoft's counter-argument has always been the subjective nature of the "agreement" they have -- it appears that whenever anyone cries to the EU, they strangle MS more and more. That's not legal either. The law is absolute, and as such, the definition of penalty must be specific. The EU has so far failed in this regard. IMHO.

mram said,
The law is absolute

That is complete nonsense. The law is as flexible as the wind. Implementation of laws is governed by precedents and they can be overturned by subsequent rulings. Some laws are actively enforced, whilst others disappear into the background and are ignored. The legal system is incredibly complicated and your gross over-simplification of it is an insult. Your point looks very nice and is well presented but it's just glossy tripe.

Glossy tripe or not, the law may change, but that's the point of laws -- to be absolute while they are in effect. It'd be like saying "Well, I suppose I can rob that store because I expect the laws on robbery to change someday." Maybe so, but right now, it's pretty black and white.

The EU told MS to do something subjective. Legally, that needs clarification, but like I said in another posting, they've gone as far as publishing full source code and it's still considered incomplete. The EU is just being categorically stupid and asinine.

mram said,
Glossy tripe or not, the law may change, but that's the point of laws -- to be absolute while they are in effect. It'd be like saying "Well, I suppose I can rob that store because I expect the laws on robbery to change someday." Maybe so, but right now, it's pretty black and white.

That's bull. If the law was so black and white, we wouldn't need to hire a good lawyer to present a case. Laws are designed to last years, if not decades, and therefore are made as vague as humanly possible as to cover all scenarios that could come up. The amount of "telephonic, telegraphic, and like services" bull-crap that comes up in law will make you sick.

These EU bureaucrats should back Linux development (with hard $$$, not just laws) instead of fantasizing that MS will ever truly comply with their demands.

Absolutely NOT!

I am a Linux user, and open source supporter, but the job of the EU isn't to finance software development. Just to ensure laws are complied with. If Microsoft gets to 99% of marketshare by following legal actions, that's perfectly fine.

It is about compliance, not an artificial marketshare target.

Kind of like Airbus as in it is being held together by the EU as some competition to America's Boeing, although they have dumped massive money in there it still doesn't look good for the company with slumping stock and bad sales. Just hope they don't try and make Boeing open up their blue prints and open up the engineering so others can just copy it like the Chinese seem to be doing everyday.

It's very hard as the E.U. is very Socialist in a majority of those countries and they don't want MS dominating the market, but there really was no competition when it comes to the desktop and Office market. Come on Open Source community quit running your mouth about how MS is so bad and produce something that we want and not some hack to take advantage of a MS product.

E.U. reminds of the U.N. in Team America
E.U.= "if you dont comply we will get very very angry and write you a letter telling you how angry we are"
America = Hey listen up you Europeans you need to suck it up and cough out the money since you love all our great material that capitalist produce.

Personally I'm glad the EU puts their foot down. America spewed out garbage and did nothing.

Edit: I find it hard to believe you guys don't know what I speak of. DOJ ring a bell?.

Mike Frett said,
Personally I'm glad the EU puts their foot down. America spewed out garbage and did nothing.

who is this "america" you speak of?

When the Commission began its antitrust investigation in 1999 Microsoft held between 35 percent and 40 percent market share. By 2004 it rose to around 60 percent and now it stands at between 70 percent and 75 percent. "That's unacceptable," Kroes said.

He making a huge assumption that it may not just be the best product out there...

-Spenser

You are making a huge assumption that being the best/worst product does actually matter here:

the company continues to gain market share using tactics that were outlawed in the European Commission's 2004 antitrust ruling

MR.T said,
Screw EU anything they want you should do the opposite. Greedy *******.

Yeah, ok buddy.

that the company share interoperability information inside Windows at a reasonable price to allow rival makers of workgroup servers to build products that work properly with PCs running Windows.

How exactly is this greedy? Microsoft stands to gain from complying, whereas now people just copy open source software such as samba instead of paying Microsoft. Read the article before just posting the same comments every time in any story regarding Microsoft/EU.

I think it's funny that Microsoft isn't bowing much to the EU. It's obviously really ****ing them off, and I'm sure what makes them even angrier is that it's an American company!
Bad Americans! >>>(whip crack)<<<
Maybe Microsoft could release a Windows Server EU Edition- something stripped of all functionality...but open source!

The difference is that the EU will follow through and ensure that MS complies. Do they look like their ready to cease any time soon? Nope. MS has share-holders to answer to at the end of the day. The EU can just keep adding fine on top of fine on top of fine.

As has been said above, it's not rocket science. You want to do business in any given area, you have to abide by their laws. MS seem to be under the illusion that the EU is like America, and that they will just bow down and let them do as they want. Not going to happen.

As for the because they're American slant, give me a break and get over yourselves. MS simply need to look at the calendar and appreciate that the business practises they were once able to get with are now no longer acceptable.

Withholding the interoperability information is an illegal competitive tactic, the Commission said in 2004. Offices full of PCs running Windows are easier to connect together using Microsoft's workgroup server, than using the server of a rival such as Sun Microsystems.

If it is better, then so what? Should MS create sub-standard software, and businesses use sub-standard software, just so Sun can have a bigger market share?

If I start up a grocers shop tomorrow, are the EU going to request that all the big supermarkets put their prices up so that I can have a bigger market share?

Ummmm.. No.

Read the statement you quoted. It stated an "illegal competitive tactic" of "withholding the interoperability information". Now, this is what your comment should have involved.

I don't know from what alternate reality you think that the subject is Microsoft should "make sub-standard software". It is about complying with the order to "share interoperability information inside Windows at a reasonable price" (incidentally, that quote is also from the article).

And, in what appears to be their "drag, drag, drag, comply" policy, they recently announced that they will make key communications protocols available for license. Delay and comply.

adversedeviant said,
its not their fault ,what is ms supposed to do tell people not to buy their software?

No, simply comply with the court's ruling. It's not rocket science. If MS wants to do business in a jurisdiction, it must comply with laws and rulings in that jurisdiction. This is typical MS legal jousting. They drag their feet long enough in hopes that the political climate will change and that they will be let off the hook. That is exactly what happened in the USDOJ case in the late 90's.

Remember that in the end, it is the consumer as well as the industry that are hurt by anti-competitive practices (hence the laws in most jurisdictions). Competition drives innovation and efficiency.

lbmouse said,

No, simply comply with the court's ruling. It's not rocket science. If MS wants to do business in a jurisdiction, it must comply with laws and rulings in that jurisdiction. This is typical MS legal jousting. They drag their feet long enough in hopes that the political climate will change and that they will be let off the hook. That is exactly what happened in the USDOJ case in the late 90's.

Remember that in the end, it is the consumer as well as the industry that are hurt by anti-competitive practices (hence the laws in most jurisdictions). Competition drives innovation and efficiency.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/

(shift4 said @ #1.2)

You are kidding, right? I remember to get some XP effects, someone had to disassemble shell32 and spend a couple of months finding the proper entry in order to make their program "XP like." MSDN hardly discloses anything except public headers.