Microsoft Makes Deadline on EU Windows Info
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 than weeks.".
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 decision.".
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.