Microsoft Fires Back At EC

    December 23, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

The brinkmanship being played between Microsoft and the European Commission escalated as the world’s largest tech company responded to a Statement of Objections from the EC.

Microsoft’s general counsel and senior VP Brad Smith issued a statement in answer to the threats of fines made by the EC. Smith referred to technical documentation submitted to the EC, and said the EC had not even “read or reviewed these new documents.”

“We think it would have been reasonable for the Commission and the Trustee at least to read and review these new documents before criticizing them as being insufficient,” Smith said in the statement.

That alleged insufficiency could lead to the EC fining Microsoft over $2 million per day, an outcome Microsoft said it wants to avoid and has been trying to do so. “We continue working quickly to meet the Commission’s new and changing demands. Yet every time we make a change, we find that the Commission moves the goal post and demands another change.”

Smith cited the persistent concern that Microsoft has regarding the opening of its code to third parties:

Of particular concern is the Commission’s latest demand that the internal workings of Windows be documented and licensed, which can open the door to the production of clones of parts of the Windows operating system. During the September 3, 2004 hearing with President Vesterdorf, the Commission clearly stated this was not within the scope of its decision. Yet the Commission confuses disclosure of the source code with disclosure of the internals and insists that it will fine the company if it fails to address this.

Microsoft plans to appeal the latest developments in the case to the European Union’s legal system. The code disclosure issue alone could keep the case going well into 2006, when Microsoft releases the Vista operating system, if the EC continues to demand more documentation.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.