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Microsoft agreement: impact limited, says Ovum

Microsoft's decision to comply with the European Commission's ruling will have limited market impact, according to analysis firm.

Microsoft's decision to comply with the European Commission's 2004 anti-monopoly ruling will have a limited impact on market dynamics, according to analysis firm Ovum.

Microsoft said Monday it had agreed to comply with the Commission's 2004 ruling that it was engaging in anti-competitive behaviour and to take steps to provide rivals with greater access to its code for interoperability.

The move, which comes a month after the software giant lost its appeal against the ruling, brings an end to nine years of legal wrangling between the two parties.

Whilst the decision is being hailed as a victory for both Microsoft competitors and consumers, the actual impact on the market will be limited, according to Ovum.

"The market will carry on, largely unchanged, after the announcement," said David Mitchell, senior vice president IT research at Ovum in a research note. "Companies who were developing products will still continue to develop those products. Companies who had previously rejected the Microsoft-related development route will still reject it. Consumers will use products tomorrow and next year that are largely the same as the ones they used today."

It is the individual open source developer rather than the large commercial organisations that stands to benefit from Microsoft's decision, he added.

"Previous arrangements that Microsoft offered to the market were not a major obstacle for most commercial organisations," he noted, adding "the provisions for open source developers are welcome, not for the major commercial open source providers who are wealthy enough for the commercial licensing schemes, but for the hobbyist open source developer."

Microsoft agreed to allow open-source software developers access to information that will allow them to make systems interoperable with Windows, and said it will charge companies a one-off fee of $14,300 for this information.

The software giant was fined $708.9 million in 2004 for market abuse and then given a further $400.1 million fine in 2006 for failing to comply with the 2004 decision.