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Microsoft Hands Documents Over to EU

Microsoft Corp. has given the European Union more documents in response to a 2004 antitrust order, but regulators said they do not know yet whether the company will avoid additional fines.

Microsoft Corp. has given the European Union more documents in response to a 2004 antitrust order, but regulators said they do not know yet whether the company will avoid additional fines.

The EU had threatened new penalties of $3.82 million a day beginning Monday, on top of $357 million levied July 12.

Regulators have said the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker has yet to hand over "complete and accurate technical specifications" to help rivals write software that can communicate better with computers running Microsoft's flagship Windows operating system.

EU spokesman Michael Mann said regulators and an independent monitor were analyzing the new technical documents before deciding whether there would be new fines and, if so, how much they would be.

"We've received information from Microsoft and we're looking at it," Mann said. "There is no decision as of yet whether it is what we want or not."

Microsoft said in a statement that it was committed to fully complying with the order.

The July fine followed a $613 million fine imposed on Microsoft in March 2004 when the EU found the company guilty of breaking antitrust law. The EU also ordered Microsoft to share technical information with rivals and to offer a version of Windows without Media Player software.

In imposing the July 12 penalty, EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said she had no alternative because Microsoft kept failing to comply with the antitrust order.

Its decision came after independent experts described earlier versions of the technical manual as "entirely inadequate" and in need of a drastic overhaul to make it workable.

Microsoft -- which will challenge the July fines in the European courts -- said the EU had never been clear about what it wanted until the independent trustee Neil Barrett gave a set of guidelines on how it should revise the manual.

It says some 300 staff have been working on this project, handing in new drafts in recent months. A final installment was handed to Barrett by July 18, which allowed time for revisions before Monday's deadline, Microsoft said.

"We are working with the trustee to ensure that all of this documentation meets his requirements and to respond promptly and fully to any further requests for information," the company said.

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