A European Commission official who was used as a sounding board by competitors making complaints about Microsoft has a new job: he’s gone to work for Microsoft!
A group of anti-Microsoft vendors said they provided confidential arguments and evidence for the EC’s antitrust case against Microsoft to Detlef Eckert, who was head of analysis and policy planning in the commission's Information Society department.
But they have been shocked by the announcement that he is to take a three-year leave of absence to work for Microsoft.
Eckert, who will join the company Monday, will be responsible for the "trustworthy computing" initiative at Microsoft aimed at developing more secure computer platforms. He will also act as a mediator between Microsoft in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and product developers in Redmond to ensure product compatibility with local requirements.
Eckert has told the EC that he will will "fully comply" with conflict-of-interest rules not to reveal confidential commission information to Microsoft and said that he would not carry out EU-related work or lobby the commission for Microsoft. Eckert is entitled to make the move under EC rules that permit officials to leave the commission for up to three years.
But rival vendors are still alarmed at the prospect of someone they confided in going over to the enemy camp. "I and others working with me as interveners in the case shared with him our full range of views and inside information on our objectives and strategy," said Ed Black, president of Computer & Communications Industry Association, whose members include Intel Corp., Oracle Inc. and Yahoo! Inc.
He said Eckert had appeared "sympathetic to our arguments.” "What we would like is a letter from Microsoft, describing in some detail what Eckert will and will not be able to work on," he added.
The commission is expected to rule on the anti-trust case early next year.