Microsoft Delivers Windows Docs to EU
EU in process of certifying whether documentation complies with anti-trust order.
European Union regulators said Microsoft Corp.
handed in on time to meet a Thursday deadline information about its Windows
operating software that should help other software companies.
The data will now be tested to confirm that the company has finally complied
with a 2004 antitrust ruling.
The European Commission, which fined Microsoft 280.5 million euros ($357
million) in July for not providing the "complete and accurate"
data to allow server software to interface with Windows, said the technical
manual can now be reviewed by "potential licensees" -- companies
who compete with Microsoft in making software for workgroup servers, such
as Sun Microsystems Inc., Novell Inc., International Business Machines
Corp. among others.
"In parallel the monitoring trustee will test the documentation
in order to verify its accuracy," it said.
"The commission will decide in due course whether or not Microsoft
is in compliance with the obligation to provide complete and accurate
technical documentation taking into account comments from the potential
licensees and advice from the trustee."
EU spokesman Jonathan Todd said this would likely take "months rather
Regulators threatened new fines of 3 million euros ($3.87 million) a
day last week if Microsoft did not patch up "the remaining omissions
and deficiencies." They said the company should have handed over
a good set of documents explaining how server protocols work by an original
July 2004 deadline.
The software maker was ordered to provide the information after the EU
found it guilty of abusing its monopoly by deliberately withholding technical
data from rivals, who alleged that Microsoft ended cooperation when it
started making its own server software.
Microsoft challenged the immediate sanctions but a judge ordered it to
comply in December 2004. It also said the commission's request was unclear
and it only received a useful set of guidelines when independent monitor
Neil Barrett set out a work program earlier this year.
The company said Thursday's decision was an important milestone.
"The trustee and Microsoft have now completed the technical review
and edits to the more than 100 documents, totaling 8,500 pages, that we
submitted in July of this year, in accordance with the deadline established
by the commission," it said in a statement.
"We will continue to work closely with the commission and the trustee
to ensure that we are in full compliance with every aspect of the commission's
The EU fined Microsoft a record 497 million euros ($613 million) in March
2004 and told it both to share interoperability information with rivals
and put on sale a copy of Windows without Media Player software.
These conditions will apply to all future versions of Windows -- including
the upcoming Vista operating system.
Regulators also highlighted other possible antitrust problems with Vista's
wide range of functions, fueled by comments from other information technology
companies, warning that Microsoft must take care not to abuse its dominant
position by muscling into other markets.