Court sets date for Microsoft antitrust ruling

A European court has confirmed Tuesday that it will rule on September 17 on whether software giant Microsoft broke European Union antitrust regulations.

Microsoft is appealing at the Court of First Instance against a landmark 2004 decision by the European Commission, which ordered the company to change its business practices and fined it close to half a billion euros (£337 million).

The Luxembourg-based court confirmed that the ruling will come on September 17, the final working day before the retirement of court president Bo Vesterdorf, who is presiding over the case.

The EU’s executive Commission found in 2004 that Microsoft had broken competition rules by abusing the dominance of its Windows product, muscling out competitors unable to make software that would work smoothly on the operating system.

Despite Microsoft’s appeal, it was still liable to implement the Commission’s decision, which involved giving rivals information needed to make their software work with Windows.

Three years on, the Commission has repeatedly warned Microsoft that it has failed to comply with the 2004 decision because it supplied insufficient information.

Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said the EU executive was still looking into those charges, after Microsoft prepared a set of technical documents for rivals and set fees for their use.

“We haven’t yet reached a view as to whether or not the technical documentation made available is enough, or indeed as to whether we’re happy with the fees charged for licensing. We’re still investigating that,” he told a regular briefing.

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