The European Commission has again criticized Microsoft’s response to a 2004 antitrust ruling, opening up the possibility of additional fines for the company.
In March 2004, the commission fined Microsoft and ordered it to provide its competitors with information allowing them to develop workgroup server software interoperable with Windows desktop operating system. It then fined the company again last July for failing to provide that information on time.
The commission has sent Microsoft another statement of objections, saying the interoperability information Microsoft has offered is still incomplete, said Jonathan Todd, commission spokesman on competition issues. In addition, Microsoft is charging its competitors too much for that information; it does not justify the price tag put on it because it is not innovative, he said.
Microsoft has four weeks in which to respond to the statement of objections, after which it may face additional daily fines for noncompliance with the antitrust ruling.
Even as Microsoft and the commission dispute whether the company is in compliance with the ruling, another court is considering whether Microsoft should have to comply at all.
The European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg is still considering Microsoft’s appeal against the commission’s March 2004 ruling that Microsoft abused its monopoly in desktop operating systems to exploit markets for workgroup server and media player software.
At that time, the commission ordered Microsoft to pay a fine of 497 million euros (then about US$600 million), ship a version of Windows without media player software, and publish the server software interoperability information disputed in today’s announcement.
-Paul Meller, IDG News Service (Brussels Bureau)
(Peter Sayer in Paris contributed to this report.)
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