BRUSSELS: "I know a smart business decision when I see one: choosing open standards is a very smart business decision indeed," European Union competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes (pictured) told a conference in Brussels hosted by OpenForum Europe.

But Kroes' listeners had little difficulty in decoding her drift. She was none-too-subtly recommending that businesses and governments use software based on internationally accepted open standards.

A benchmark in which the planet's dominant software company does not figure.

Microsoft and Kroes are old enemies. She has relentlessly harried the software titan over the past four years in an attempt to force it to comply with European Union competition law – during which time the EC has fined the Redmond recalcitrant nearly €1.7 billion ($2.63bn; £1.35bn).

Althought Microsoft was not mentioned by name, attendees' intuition was not stretched when Kroes spoke of "the only company in EU antitrust enforcement history that has been fined for refusing to comply with European Commission orders".

 Among the members of OpenForum Europe are major global companies such as IBM, Oracle, Sun Microsystems and, er, Microsoft. 

Data sourced from International Herald-Tribune; additional content by WARC staff