TAEUS War Stories: EC vs. Microsoft
Some years ago, TAEUS Europe Ltd. won a €9 million European Commission (EC) competitive tender for assistance with their antitrust investigation of Microsoft. The EC was responding to complaints from Microsoft competitors that believed that Microsoft was blocking them from making products compatible with its Internet Explorer™ internet browser and Microsoft Windows™ operating system.
TAEUS engineers around the world, including those in Germany, France, UK, Romania, and the USA, began analyzing both the Internet Explorer browser and the Windows operating system. These analyses required a combination of black-box testing and code analysis. Despite the agreements implied by the shrink-wrap or click-wrap license agreements required to install both the Windows operating system and Internet Explorer that prohibited the reverse engineering of those products, TAEUS was authorized via the EC to investigate, including both black-box testing and detailed line-by-line code analysis of both products. The code itself was analyzed in different sections by teams of engineers with specific expertise in those types of functions, as directed by the EC. We comprehensively understood and compared how the code worked to the instructions provided by Microsoft to developers of compatible and competitive products.
The information TAEUS provided the EC illustrated that the Microsoft instructions provided to the world for the development of compatible products were inconsistent with the way the Microsoft Internet Explorer and Windows operating system code actually worked. In other words, if a developer at that time perfectly followed the instructions provided by Microsoft, their code would still not be compatible with either Microsoft product. We did not analyze intent, but we did explain, in exhaustive detail, where the discrepancies were between the instructions and the actual code. Despite the fact that the TAEUS Europe Ltd. analysis resulted in $1.4B fine levied on Microsoft by the EC, Microsoft respected TAEUS so much that they invited TAEUS in after this action to help them with their intellectual property management.