Microsoft Studies Ways to Avoid Big EU Fine

Microsoft Corp has submitted documents required by the European Commission in an effort to avoid further fines for breaching an antitrust ruling, the European Union regulator said on Monday.

The Commission said it was studying the files and that it was too early to tell whether the world's largest software company would be subject to an additional non-compliance penalty.

"We have received technical documents from Microsoft. Our people are looking at it, including the trustee, and it's too early at this stage to give any indication of whether there will be another payment, another penalty, and if there is to be another penalty, how much it would be," Commission spokesman Michael Mann told a news briefing.

Microsoft said that it had made a final submission of 2,600 documents which "further demonstrates our ongoing commitment to reaching full compliance with the Commission's decision of March 2004."

"We are working with the trustee to ensure that all of this documentation meets his requirements and to respond promptly and fully to any further requests for information," the statement said.

Earlier this month, EU regulators fined the company 280.5 million euros ($356 million) for defying a 2004 antitrust ruling that required it to share key information on its office servers with rivals. They warned the company to comply or face bigger daily fines from next month.

The information is needed so that rivals' servers can compete on a level playing field with Microsoft's own. Microsoft must help its rivals interconnect smoothly with its Windows operating system for personal computers.

Part of the decision was based on an evaluation by an independent monitoring trustee, British Professor Neil Barrett, who was nominated by the U.S. software giant.


The non-compliance penalty imposed on July 12 was the first of its kind and came on top of a record 497 million euro fine the Commission levied in its landmark antitrust decision against Microsoft in March


That decision found that the company abused the dominance of its Windows operating system to squeeze out competitors.

Microsoft faces a further fine of up to 3 million euros a day if it is found to be still not in compliance with the ruling.

The move signaled the Commission's determination to force the software company to obey its order. Microsoft had two years to comply.

Microsoft says it has made massive efforts to comply with the Commission's ruling and had 300 people working to complete its package of interoperability information.

The company, which has appealed against every ruling the Commission has made against it, has said it will appeal against the non-compliance fine as well.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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