Microsoft Concedes to European Union

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has withdrawn the last two challenges to a European Union (EU) antitrust order, closing the books on its past legal fights and instead focusing on avoiding future trouble with European regulators.

The lengthy, brutal war between Microsoft and the European Commission has cost hundreds of millions of dollars in fines.  Exhausted, Microsoft has reportedly yielded and pledged to comply with key parts of a 2004 antitrust decision upheld by an appeals court last month.

Microsoft dropped a challenge to the 280.5 million euros ($357 million) fine imposed by regulators in July 2006 for not complying with an earlier demand to share technical information with rivals and withdrew a second appeal asking the EU's Court of First Instance to annul the commission's order that Microsoft license its intellectual property to open source systems like Linux.

Microsoft filed a series of appeals as the company fought what it called an 'unclear and unfair' EU order aimed at helping rivals such as IBM, Novell, Oracle and Sun Microsystems (who triggered the original investigation 9 years ago), make software for server computers that would work smoothly with Microsoft's desktop operating system found on about 95 per cent of all personal computers.

Previously, Microsoft had claimed the server protocols were trade secrets too valuable to be given away and agreed under duress to license them. The EU said the fees Microsoft wanted to charge were exorbitant and has threatened to levy new fines.

Before the July 2006 fine Microsoft paid a 497 million euro ($613 million) penalty when the Commission found the company guilty of abusing its powerful position by refusing to supply necessary data to server rivals and trying to squeeze out media player competitors.

Microsoft appears to be trying to smooth relations with European regulatory authorities, given its latest position.

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