Microsoft files more documents to avoid EU fine

Microsoft submitted new information to the EU to avoid further fines for noncomplaince with an antitrust ruling

Microsoft submitted the latest batch of technical information about its Windows operating system to the European Commission antitrust department Thursday, meeting the last in a string of deadlines imposed by the regulator over the past two years.

Microsoft called the submission "an important milestone." Final edits and technical review of information that the company submitted previously to the regulator, in July, have now also been completed, it added.

"Now the submission from Microsoft is worth testing," said Jonathan Todd, the Commission's spokesman, in a telephone interview. "Licensees will be invited to Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond to look at it."

Last week, the Commission's antitrust chief, Neelie Kroes, expressed growing impatience with Microsoft when she imposed Thursday's deadline.

She described the dossier submitted in July as incomplete and warned Microsoft that it faced daily fines of Euro 3 million (US$3.9 million), back-dated to the end of July, if it didn't hand over all the technical information about Windows that it was ordered to reveal in a March 2004 antitrust ruling against it.

Microsoft claimed Thursday that it had met its deadline. "The Trustee and Microsoft have now completed the technical review and edits to the more than 100 documents, totalling 8,500 pages, that we submitted in July of this year, in accordance with the deadline established by the Commission," it said.

It described the submission of technical documentation in July, and the revision process since then, as "an unprecedented undertaking involving over 300 engineers and technical writers at Microsoft."

In 2004 Microsoft was found guilty of abusing the dominant strength of Windows in order to muscle in on other software markets, including that of server operating systems.

The 2004 ruling ordered Microsoft to reveal enough information about Windows to allow rival server software vendors, including Sun Microsystems and Red Hat to design server products that interoperated as well with Windows PCs as does Microsoft's own Windows Server OS.

If the review of the information by licensees does not determine that it will allow rival server products to interoperate seamlessly with Windows PCs, Microsoft will face the Euro 3 million daily fine, backdated to July, Todd said.

Microsoft may get fined in any case for the period between the July deadline and Thursday's final submission of information. "We'll take a decision about this period of time in due course," Todd said.

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