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back to article Stop the Microsoft, Skype wedding, screams enraged Cisco in court

Cisco and Italian ISP Messagenet will try to convince a European court today that it should overturn the EU's approval of Microsoft's acquisition of VoIP biz Skype. The firms will attempt to get the Euro beaks to reverse the European Commission's clearance of the $8.5bn gobble in 2011 without any concessions. Networking giant …

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Hopefully the court will fine Cisco for wasting everyone's time.

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Meh

.. Because Cisco have never written a proprietary protocol ...

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Pint

They still do

But they have customers such as us going "We want to use this <product> and link it to this <Cisco product>".

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Anonymous Coward

I'd rather have messenger than Skype :(

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I'd rather have an open messaging protocol that all providers used...

Sure Google+ is great with its hangouts & chat...

Sure MSN messenger WAS great for the time, but got bloated

ICQ was great back in the day...

IRC still lives...

Skype was the great option when it came out....

See the problem? multiple systems, we need a single system, so one email address/account name can be contacted by everyone on any client...

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http://xkcd.com/927/

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Good luck

There are a few big players who are not at all interested in sharing their users with the other guys. Without even saying that all these systems add subtly different features in order to differentiate their offer from the others, which makes it difficult to interoperate. For instance, the new Hangouts thing from Google had to mostly drop XMPP support, because it could not handle half of the extra features.

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Re: Good luck

"There are a few big players who are not at all interested in sharing their users with the other guys"

Gee, that sounds just like email, up to about 1994-6

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Unhappy

Single system...

You have to understand the practicality of trying to get everybody onto one system. Its not going to work.

A better system would be that networks have to be open to 3rd parties. The MSN protocol was published. XMPP was published. IRC is a standard. Plus ICQ really wasn't as good as you remember, it was full of spammers, thats why everybody left.

Multi-protocol IM applications should solve the problems, its just big business doesn't like that approach.

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re: xkcd.com/927/ Tom Wood

I get the feeling that 'VoIP' standardisation will get a little like office document standardisation. So rather than use the standard (H.323) and enhance it to support new functionality, user organisations will adopt the MS/Skype defacto standard then wake up in 10 plus years to the problems they've created for themselves...

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Re: Single system...

>You have to understand the practicality of trying to get everybody onto one system. Its not going to work.

It worked very well for the PSTN. Although I would agree the telco's have been very slow at positioning themselves as end-to-end VoIP service providers who can offer a QoS that the traditional Internet operators will find hard to match.

>A better system would be that networks have to be open to 3rd parties.

I think you'll find that if you implement H.323 you'll be able to connect to most telco networks.

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Re: Good luck

"Gee, that sounds just like email, up to about 1994-6"

And SMS up until about 1999

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Facepalm

1994-6??

You mean when AOL finally decided to join the Internet?

Many of us on El Reg have been using Internet email since the mid-80s, and adherence to RFC 822 et alii has made delivery across the network very dependable -- until the past few years, when companies like *erm* Microsoft have begun to Balkanise email as they introduce proprietary barriers to open delivery to the email systems they control.

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JDX
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Where is there a legal requirement for open standards?

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@JDX

"Where is there a legal requirement for open standards?"

It's only where common sense prevail.

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hmm

>Where is there a legal requirement for open standards?

There is a legal requirement that all major M&A activity is approved by the appropriate authorities. Often a condition placed will be on opening things up. Why this wasn't done during the initial review of the merger is the issue.

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only two complaining?

Just Cisco and this Italian ISP...

Does that mean that all the other ISPs in Europe are happy, or don't think it worth the fight? Or is it that Cisco needed some European headquartered business to file the complaint?

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Holmes

Amazing, Holmes

“Microsoft’s plans to integrate Skype exclusively with its Lync Enterprise Communications Platform could lock in businesses who want to reach Skype’s 700 million account holders to a Microsoft-only platform.”

I would never have guessed.

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Childcatcher

Re: Amazing, Holmes

If these people don't leave, the B-Ark is gonna be mighty big.

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Re: Amazing, Holmes

Skype also works on OSX, iOS, Android and others, and shows no signs of going away.

My biggest worry about this is that they'll kill off Lync like they killed Messenger and force Skype - with it's far less capable IM features and bloated UI - in to take it's place. While I wasn't a fan of the whole Hangouts thing I find myself using it more simply because I dislike Skype so much as an unobtrusive IM client

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Anonymous Coward

What business wants to use a Microsoft / Skype solution where you have to have the camera pointed at your crotch to work.

Every time, I take a Skype call there's a 70% chance of bollocks.

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Microsoft have already broken backwards compatibility.

Anything later than 6.1 will not do video to older versions, such a 2.8 (the latest version for PPC Macs).

Fortunately 6.1 is still available, from this slightly misleading page: https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA12252/why-can-t-i-make-video-calls-on-the-latest-version-of-skype-for-windows-desktop

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Facepalm

Re: Microsoft have already broken backwards compatibility.

My Mac has version 6.0 plus the latest so I can use either one. Why do people install the latest and throw the earlier ones out? Hmm.

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Xbox One as Video Conference tool?

Perhaps they're worried that SMEs could buy an Xbox One for Skype group calls rather than fork out for expensive video conferencing equipment from Cisco.

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Anything with 80+% market share

should be forced to fully document the protocol and (for our unfortunate cousins in the USA) release all claim of patents for use with the protocol.

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Meh

Re: Anything with 80+% market share

Why should they be required to do that? That is a business philosophy decision. Perhaps the management sees wisdom in openness perhaps they do not, but if something has achieved 80% market share with a closed system it seems to argue against open...

Not that I think it is 'right' I'm just saying you're proposing they do the opposite of what got the product successful.

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Re: Anything with 80+% market share

No.

"Release all claims of patent" is the minimum that should be imposed. No antitrust shenanigans but you don't get to stay the king of the hill via the government's guns and badges. Do it via competition.

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Re: Anything with 80+% market share

No. A patent is a government sanctioned temporary monopoly given in exchange for contributing to the public knowledge base. Why should they have to give up the benefit of the patent because it is working?

Whether or not the patent should have been granted is another discussion but as it stands your proposal is punishing success using the tools the market makes available.

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FAIL

Re: Anything with 80+% market share

"A patent is a government sanctioned temporary monopoly given in exchange for contributing to the public knowledge base."

In other words, a privilege. And if the patent is worded correctly, you allocate quite a bit of the idea space and give nothing away.

Do you want champagne and nose ajax with that?

The proposal is not "punishing success". It is giving air to further developments.

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FAIL

Re: Anything with 80+% market share

It is an exchange. A market. The other option is the 'trade secret', which results in zero contribution to the public knowledge.

In either case your argument is proposing government intervention. Is that your desired goal? If left to a 'free' market, patents and exclusivity are a logical conclusion. If left to a government to determine who is successful, which seems to be what you are proposing, then things are going to go even more downhill, faster.

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Re: Anything with 80+% market share

If you've got 80% market share with something that's given away for free you should be forced to sell the patents for what you get for them now - jack.

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WTF?

Re: Anything with 80+% market share

Would that mean you get to take your contribution to the knowledge base back? Every argument posted so far argues strongly in favor of closed, proprietary systems and trade secrets. Using the 80% logic it seems that there is no financial advantage to contributing and as we are discussing business, tell me; Why should anyone even bother.

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Re: Anything with 80+% market share

> Why should they be required to do that?

I assume he means because once they've reached 80% market share, it's a de-facto standard, and as such should be documented, and available for others to implement.

The motivations for such a requirement would share the same roots as the motivation for competition/antitrust law. Actually if such a requirement were to be set, it would probably be as part of competition law.

> if something has achieved 80% market share with a closed system it seems to argue against open

How so? Competition law isn't there to protect people with monopolies. It's there to protect everyone else.

Personally I agree with the fully documented part, but I think that the patents should be forceably licenced under FRAND terms, and that such FRAND terms including that a royalty shall not exceed the price of the product ( so £0 for free / open source software ).

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Devil

Re: Anything with 80+% market share

such FRAND terms including that a royalty shall not exceed the price of the product ( so £0 for free / open source software ).

So you get to give away a product, based on my research, ensuring I can get nothing from it. There is nothing fair, reasonable or non-discriminatory about that. That ensures the failure of every commercial entity doing any significant amount of research.

When you are in charge, I, for one, will keep all of my devices as trade secrets.

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Re: Anything with 80+% market share

> When you are in charge, I, for one, will keep all of my devices as trade secrets.

And that's fine. If you come up with some new revolutionary product, you can keep the necessary details(except those needed for interoperability) secret. On the contrary if you come up with an obvious extension of existing art, someone else can independently come up with the same thing without having to worry about your salami patent.

When we reach the stage of engineers not understanding their own patents, the original benign goals of sharing knowledge et al go out the window.

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Microsoft Lock-In.

Hm. I run Skype on Linux, Skype on Android. This sounds like bad news. (Already I'm struggling for Video services due to the Silverlight lock-in).

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Re: Microsoft Lock-In.

I get the feeling that Microsoft is trying to ignore Skype on Linux until it starves to death. It certainly feels like a neglected red-headed step child compared to the Windows version, what with the far clunkier interface. It's not missing any features yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't get any new ones that are added to the Windows version.

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Anonymous Coward

And Skype for asterisk?

Discontinued within days of takeover.

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Re: Microsoft Lock-In.

as a linux user who has used skype daily for the past 3 years now(if it wasn't for work requirements I wouldn't use it at all, most of my work comms go through skype chat) I have to say I like the UI on the linux skype. The old linux skype(using 2.2 beta). When skype released an updated client(for linux) about a year ago now ? I downgraded immediately.

The windows UI I think is much more cluttered and busy, linux UI is simple(at least 2.2, I don't remember what the newer one looked like it was installed for only a couple of minutes I think it was much closer to the look and feel of the windows version). I dedicate a virtual desktop(one of 12-16 that I use) to nothing but skype - each chat in it's own window(normally no more than 3 on the screen at any given time), easy to follow.

99% of my skype time is text chat, with maybe 0.8% on voice chat and 0.2% on video chat (I did actually use the desktop sharing thing to help a co-worker out for a few minutes - first and only time I have used it).

I think skype is handy since it is available on so many platforms, even on my walking dead WebOS devices (though I rarely use skype on them)

but I'm probably the only one in the world with that opinion.

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Linux

Re: Microsoft Lock-In.

I'm still waiting for Cisco to release a Linux version of their Webex Connect client...

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Re: Microsoft Lock-In.

I've moved to SIP on Linux, SIP on Android. SIP on older phones. It works, quite nicely even. Now I only have to educate my friends & family and cut through the blank stare I get when trying to explain..

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Re: Microsoft Lock-In.

"I've moved to SIP... I only have to educate my friends & family"

This precisely the situation that needs to be addressed, Different countries POTS are not 100% compatible, likewise mobile service. But they have interoperabilty gateways so that anyone with a landline or mobile phone can call anyone else with a landline or mobile.

The problem with software companies is that they only see their own little (or not so little) empire and can't or won't see the bigger picture.

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Stop

Cisco video

Cisco have had far far longer than most to get on this one. They missed the boat so now they want the big guns to round up the flotilla and moor it up for them so they can sink it at their leisure by developing something that should have been an RFC/IEEE for at least a decade and no doubt making it a licenced proprietary protocol CVP.

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Happy

Isn't it satisfying ...

to watch corporate a*seholes excoriate each other?

Particularly when Americans come to Europe to do it,

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Anonymous Coward

Anti-Competitive? Is there anything to discuss there?

If it's Microsoft, of course it's anti-competitive. That is their business model.

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Re: Anti-Competitive? Is there anything to discuss there?

Not just Microsoft, almost any company with shareholders. A company's board of directors is obliged to maximize profit for the shareholders. That means getting away with as much as possible (as big a monopoly as is possible, the lowest amount of tax, the hardest deals with suppliers, the cheapest wages in the cheapest manufacturing facility, etc).

If a board of directors comes across all lovey-dovey towards their competitors their company will get torn to shreds and they'll get sued to bits by their shareholders. If you want things to improve you'll have to get your government to intervene in the market and pass a few laws. Good luck with that in the US.

Yet such government intervention does work. In the US the mobile phone standards were left up to companies to decide, hence CDMA and CDMA2000 and the almost complete inability to put a handset from one network operator on another network, never mind using it in another country. In Europe the laws said otherwise; its GSM or UMTS or nothing, and the result is a world wide adoption of GSM and UMTS. It's worked so well that even the US has decided to go along with LTE for 4G.

So if we the consumers want a standard we have to persuade the politicians to act. Thing is i reckon most people don't give a damn. Google is 'free', so is Skype, Outlook.com, iCloud. No one complains if something is free (until they discover that they're locked in, and then it seems most people just shrug their shoulders and get back to worrying where the next wage packet is coming from). Plus a lot of people seem to actively enjoy the tribalism of being an iPhone or Android user (bit like being a Spurs or Arsenal supporter), so I don't anticipate a mass protest just yet.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: obliged to maximize profit

Of course. No business, whether it is a single person or a multi-national, is in it for charity. The purpose is to make profit, and, as I'm not particularly opposed to the basics of capitalism, I don't have any problem with that at all.

Competition is a fact of life for those businesses too, and they do have a choice how they deal with and react to that. The best companies are stimulated to provide better services or products, and/or provide them at better prices. The not-so-good companies deal with it by ruthlessly and viciously seeking to eliminate the competition. I don't expect business men to be angels, but I'd put MS firmly in the latter category.

I don't think that that is a healthy way of doing business.

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hmm

Normally I would say yeah good luck with that, too late, etc but Microsoft is one of the few convicted monopolists on the planet so they may not be able to safely ignore this.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: hmm

You could also argue that a government that allows a monopoly to build up in the first place isn't doing its job properly. The US government broke up Standard Oil and Bell, and nearly broke up IBM, etc etc. What is it with technology that makes them so blind to the same sorts of situation recurring?

Personally I think that it is because politicians in general are technologically illiterate. Sure, they can understand oil and telephone bills. But how many of them have the imagination to see the benefits of a standardised VOIP system, or of interoperable VAVOIP, or universal Cloud interchangability? Until they do they won't lift a finger or spend a dollar to bring it about.

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