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Microsoft may face more fines from EU

Sat., March 19, 2005, midnight

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Union threatened Microsoft Corp. on Friday with new fines if the software company doesn’t make it easier for competitors to see the blueprints of its server software and less expensive for them to use it.

After hearing from Microsoft’s rivals, the EU’s antitrust office found that the system the company had set up to improve the interoperability between its Windows server and other software companies was insufficient.

“Based on the market tests, it doesn’t seem to be working at all,” said Jonathan Todd, the spokesman for the EU’s antitrust office.

EU antitrust regulators fined Microsoft a record 497 million euros ($665 million) when they ruled last March that Microsoft abusively wielded its Windows software monopoly and locked competitors out of the market.

They ordered remedies to give rivals better access to Windows technological information, but now say Microsoft is stalling.

Todd said competitors were having difficulty getting access to the technical information needed to make a judgment on whether to buy a license for the Windows interoperability.

Microsoft also forced its rivals to buy the full license package, he said, and did not allow companies to pick and choose what they needed. The commission also felt the cost for the license was excessive.

Furthermore, he said open-source vendors like Linux were excluded from the process.

Todd said the EU could impose prohibitive fines of up to 5 percent of the company’s annual global sales if it refused to cooperate better.

“The commission remains patient but there are limits to the patience we are prepared to show,” Todd said.

For its fiscal year ending June 30, Microsoft has said it expects revenue of about $40 billion — 5 percent of which would be about $2 billion.


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