Microsoft responds to EC over anti-trust settlement claims

Microsoft is fighting its corner on anti-trust issues against the European Commission. Under the shadow of fines of up to €2 million a day for non-compliance with the original settlement, it claims to have answered – on a deadline day – the European complaints.

Microsoft was originally fined a record €497 million by the European Commission in March 2004, and was ordered to licence important parts of the source code for Windows Server to competitors. It had however, been accused of failing to comply with the ruling.

Now, the company has filed a 75-page response to the formal charges it faced, reports the Associated Press, outlining complaints of its own, that the European Commission had ignored key information.

According to the AP, the company said in the statement: ‘Microsoft has complied fully with the technical documentation requirements imposed by a 2004 European Commission decision. Hundreds of Microsoft employees and contractors have worked for more than 30,000 hours to create over 12,000 pages of detailed technical documents that are available for license.’

Microsoft apparently went on to state that the European Commission had ignored important evidence. This included two reports by experts that stated that Microsoft’s technical documents met industry standards.

Microsoft’s response was a last-day affair, after the EU had given it an extra two months to comply with certain aspects of the 2004 antitrust settlement. It had been ordered to supply additional documentation by December 15, or face backdated fines of as much as €2mn per day. That deadline, however, was extended to 15 February to give the EU more time to consider Microsoft’s argument that disclosing more information would enable competitors to ‘clone’ parts of its Windows operating system.

Back in January we reported that Microsoft had buckled under EU pressure. It seemed Microsoft had blinked first, by announcing it was to license all the Windows Server source code for the technologies covered by the European Commission’s Decision of March 2004.

The latest developments follow news from the company’s battle with US regulators, on the other side of the Atlantic. A week ago we reported ‘DoJ anti-trust settlement with Microsoft makes progress’, with the US Department of Justice saying it was finally making progress over the long running anti-trust case against Microsoft.

The latest DoJ status report says that Microsoft has made ‘a constructive proposal’ over the licence. Under the new Microsoft plan, it will offer an optional royalty-free addendum licence that will permit licensees to reference, use and sometimes directly copy Microsoft’s Windows server source code. Microsoft said it will also provide online and personal training to licensees to assist them in using the source code.

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