European Union regulators yesterday started analyzing Microsoft's proposal to comply with an antitrust ruling involving its Windows platform...
BRUSSELS, Belgium — European Union regulators yesterday started analyzing Microsoft’s proposal to comply with an antitrust ruling involving its Windows platform.
They will seek advice from the software maker’s competitors before deciding whether to slap more fines on the Redmond company.
If the EU decides the proposal is insufficient, it might assess heavy sanctions of up to 5 percent of Microsoft’s daily global sales.
“It will probably take us a few weeks to carry out this analysis,” said EU spokesman Jonathan Todd. “We will have to cross-check it with the market participants and look at everything in depth.”
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Microsoft has to address complaints from the EU’s head office that it failed to comply fully with last year’s ruling.
The 2004 decision imposed a fine of $624 million and said the company abusively wielded its Windows software domination to lock competitors out of the market.
Both sides were in contact almost up until midnight Tuesday, the EU-imposed deadline following weeks of negotiations.
“We received all sorts of documents,” Todd said, but refused to discuss the contents of the proposal.
“We are awaiting a response from the EU Commission,” said Microsoft spokesman Tom Brookes.
Microsoft declined to talk about any aspect of the submitted papers.
Once the commission — the EU’s regulatory arm — reaches a decision, the company will have time to rebut. Then the EU’s member states will be consulted, and the full EU executive commission will decide on the case.
The process will likely last until the end of July.
During the last days of talks, negotiations centered on pricing and royalties that can be charged to allow software competitors to better dovetail their products with the Windows platform.
The orders of the European Commission require Microsoft to share its Windows server code with rivals under certain conditions so that the industry is more competitive in the European marketplace.
Last month, regulators were still not convinced the Windows version that Microsoft was required to produce without its Media Player was up to technical standards.
12 hired to help meet
U.S. settlement terms
U.S. antitrust regulators have hired 12 people in Bellevue this year to work with Microsoft on technical-information documentation the company must share with competitors.
The new hires were disclosed yesterday in a status report filed by both sides on Microsoft’s antitrust compliance. A status conference is scheduled for next week with U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington, D.C.
Under terms of its U.S. antitrust settlement, Microsoft must share this technical information.
The 12 new hires include a project manager, a development manager, an on-site technology manager and nine design engineers. A previous status report said up to 20 engineers would be hired.