Microsoft Accepts European Commission Anti-Trust Ruling

Ending its long-standing battle with European courts, Microsoft agreed on Monday to bow to a 2004 European Commission ruling and share interoperability information with open-source software developers.

European commissioner for competition policy Nellie Kroes hailed the agreement as “a victory for consumers” and said the resulting changes would “profoundly affect the software industry”.

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US House Extends Internet Tax Moratorium – Four More Years

The US House of Representatives has voted to extend by four years the current ban on taxing Internet access, set to expire on November 1.

By an overwhelming vote of 405-2, the House passed legislation that prohibits state and local governments from taxing Internet access services until November 2011.

The bill also allows nine states that began taxing Internet access before 1998 to continue doing so.

Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), whose electorate includes a part of Silicon Valley, voted against the legislation because she strongly favors a permanent ban.

“The moratorium has served us well and the Internet is now an integral part of everyday life,” Eshoo said earlier this year. “It’s more critical now than at any time since the moratorium was established to protect the Internet from new taxes and fees. The country that invented the Internet no longer leads the world in Internet access and use.”

European Commission Shuts Windows On Microsoft

Microsoft is licking its wounds today after losing its appeal against a 2004 European Commission antitrust ruling, which found that that the software giant had illegally abused its dominant market position by refusing to share interoperability information that would allow competitors to better develop products compatible with the Microsoft Windows operating system.

NASA-Google Agreement: Net Users Will Be Over the Moon

NASA and Google have signed a historic agreement that will provide online access to interactive video from the moon and Mars, real-time weather visualization and forecasting, and real-time tracking of the International Space Station and the space shuttle.

“NASA has collected and processed more information about our planet and universe than any other entity in the history of humanity,” said Chris Kemp, director of strategic business development at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. “The vast majority of this information is scattered and difficult for non-experts to access and to understand.”

The Space Act Agreement signed by NASA Ames Research Center and Google paves the way for NASA’s wealth of datasets to be loaded into Google Earth, which will provide instant access to high-resolution images and video. Ames will also provide Google with its weather forecasting information, three-dimensional maps of the moon and Mars, and real-time tracking of the ISS and space shuttle flights.

“This agreement between NASA and Google will soon allow every American to experience a virtual flight over the surface of the moon or through the canyons of Mars,” said a NASA administrator, Michael Griffin.

Video footage from the Apollo missions to the moon has also been digitally reformatted and might be made available for viewing online.

“Partnering with NASA made perfect sense for Google, as it has a wealth of technical expertise and data that will be of great use to Google as we look to tackle many computing issues on behalf of our users,” said Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer of Google.

“The goal is to allow the public to feel they are virtually there,” said Pete Warden, director of the Ames Center. “In the next decade, we’re looking at the kind of technology that would enable people to feel the crunch of Martian soil as they move around, to feel the Martian wind on their faces. This is a step in that direction.”