Microsoft Threatened With €2m Daily Fine

European Antitrust Regulators have seemingly lost patience with Microsoft and have formally moved to seek fines of up to €2m a day for Microsoft's continuing failure to comply with longstanding orders to open up their software to competition.

The nub of the EU antitrust case lies in the March 2004 EU ruling relating to Microsoft's anticompetitive behaviour, a ruling which is currently being appealed by Microsoft. As a result of the ruling Microsoft was ordered to unbundle software such as Microsoft Media Player from Microsoft OS's and to publish specifications for programming protocols that would allow third party applications to better integrate with the OS and compete with Microsoft on a level playing field.

This latest development runs back to Nov. 10 when European regulators said they had sent Microsoft a "statement of objections" accusing the Redmond company of intransigence, making it clear what was expected of them and giving a Dec. 15 deadline programming information to be released. Microsoft did offer some additional information just not enough to satisfy the EU antitrust chief, Neelie Kroes. In a statement Ms. Kroes said, "I have given Microsoft every opportunity to comply with its obligations."

Microsoft is taking a similar evasionary approach to anticompetitive legislation in the U.S. where a federal judge has recently been critical of the companies compliance with the 2001 antiturst settlement with the Justice Department.

Microsoft claims it is doing its upmost to comply with the requests but that the EU is changing the goalposts and it wishes to protect it's trade secrets from competitors such as RedHat and IBM who sell versions of the Linux operating system.

Of course all this is nothing new, indeed Microsoft has been locking down features in it's products and adding propriatory features to open standards for years these cases just relate to those that authorities have picked on. It's well known that Microsoft Internet Information Systems (IIS) hosted websites operate better on Internet Explorer browsers and that Microsoft is trying to usurp the Open Document format with it's 'open' Office Open XML format. A report will follow later this week.

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