mjasay writes "At the Mobile World Congress, Steve Ballmer took aim at Apple's closed iPhone ecosystem with an ironic plea for openness: 'Openness is central because it's the foundation of choice.' Ballmer has apparently forgotten his company's own efforts to vertically integrate hardware and software (Zune, XBox), its history of vertically integrating software (tying SharePoint into Office, IE, SQL Server, Active Directory, etc.), as well as years of illegally tying Windows to Internet Explorer that only the US Justice Department could undo. Indeed, Microsoft's effect on the browser market has pushed Mozilla to get involved in a recent European Commission action against the software giant, with Mozilla's Mitchell Baker recently declaring that 'A number of illegal activities were also involved in creating IE's market dominance,' now requiring government intervention to open up the browser market to fair competition. Putting aside Microsoft's own tainted reputation in the field of openness, is Ballmer right? Should Apple open up its iPhone platform to outside competition, both in terms of hardware and software?"