The head of a new trade association representing European software vendors denied Thursday that the group is a “Trojan horse” organization for Microsoft Corp.
It’s unfair to say that the European Software Association (ESA) is a Trojan horse for Microsoft, according to the group’s chairman, Jeremy Roche. However, the group, which involves 26 software companies, first met at the instigation of Microsoft and they had lunch with Bill Gates, he said. But, he insisted, the decision to launch the association was taken by the chief executive officers of the companies involved.
The aim of the association is to provide a “voice for the European software industry which we have never been able to achieve because we are so fragmented as an industry,” Roche said at a press conference in Brussels. While there are other IT industry associations, they had never been able to properly represent the interests of software vendors, said Roche, who is also chief executive officer of Coda PLC, a financial services software company.
While open source software is “key” to the companies in developing their products, the ESA is not focused on a single platform, Roche said.
Roche said that the companies concerned had identified the need to establish the association after discussions with representatives of the European Commission, which had alerted them to projects and initiatives they did not know about. Among the association’s priorities will be the Commission’s i2010 initiative, to develop the E.U.’s IT sector and adapt the regulatory framework for increasing technology convergence. ESA also hopes to become a member of the Networked European Software and Services Initiative (NESSI), which aims to develop the next generation of middleware for the provision of digital services. Currently, 13 companies are involved in NESSI including Atos Origin SA, BT Group PLC, IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP), Nokia Corp., Siemens AG and Thales SA.
Asked where ESA might take different positions on regulatory issues to existing IT associations, Roche could not give a specific example. On the controversial issue of software patents, for example, Roche said that the companies involved were aware that they did not know as much about the implications of patent law as they should, given its importance to their businesses. ESA would therefore have an educational role to play in ensuring its members were properly informed. He added that ESA was setting up a public policy working group to discuss its position on key issues.
The association’s membership includes Microsoft Corp., SAP AG, LogicaCMG PLC and Business Objects SA, and also a range of small and medium-size companies like Coda and Mamut AS.