Microsoft must make it easier for developers of free programs to work with Windows by June 1 or face new European antitrust charges, people...
Microsoft must make it easier for developers of free programs to work with Windows by June 1 or face new European antitrust charges, people familiar with the matter said.
The European Commission is threatening Microsoft with fines because the company’s response to a March 2004 order doesn’t go far enough, said the people, who declined to be identified. Microsoft, whose Windows operating system runs more than 90 percent of the world’s personal computers, contends the commission’s demands go beyond the original decision, they said.
“Microsoft is concerned about losing control of its intellectual property, and the fact is some of the licensing terms used by open-source software developers raise a legitimate concern,” said Neil Macehiter, a partner at Macehiter Ward-Dutton, which advises companies on information technology strategies.
Microsoft spokesman Tom Brookes said, “We are working hard with the commission to fully comply with the decision.”
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Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd in Brussels said, “We continue to have contacts with the company.”
The European Competition Commissioner in March 2004 ordered Microsoft to license some information to rivals, sell a version of Windows without a media player and pay a record fine of 497 million euros ($628 million). The company is appealing at the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg, Europe’s second-highest court.
Meanwhile, International Business Machines, Oracle and Nokia have been given permission to join the European Commission’s case against Microsoft, according to the European Court of Justice’s Web site.
The three companies and other members of an organization called the European Committee for Interoperability Systems in December asked to intervene in Microsoft’s appeal.
Businesses supporting the European Union have dwindled since the case began in 1998 with a complaint by Sun Microsystems. Sun and other longtime opponents including Novell and trade group Computer & Communications Industry Association settled with Microsoft last year.