Microsoft Vs. EU: Show Me The Money

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Microsoft must open up its code or face a 2 million ($2.4 million) a day in fines from the European Commission. The feud over this has been brewing for some time and it seems to be coming to a head. They’ve given Microsoft five weeks to comply.

The Commission said the Microsoft failed to provide adequate documentation about its server programs. If, during those five weeks, Microsoft hasn’t given up the info, they have to pay in the euro.

Needless to say, Microsoft wasn’t pleased with the news. They issued a statement earlier today:

“We believe today’s Statement of Objections is unjustified. The Commission has issued this Statement regarding technical documentation we submitted last week, even though by its own admission neither it nor the Trustee have even read or reviewed these new documents.

“We revised the technical documents last week at the Commission’s request, responding to new feedback raised with us only six days before. In the interest of due process, 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.

“We are fully committed to comply with the Decision. We’ve shipped a new version of Windows, we’ve paid an historic fine, and we’ve provided unprecedented access to Microsoft technology to promote interoperability with other industry players. In total, we have now responded to more than 100 requests from the Commission. 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.

“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.

“We will continue to take new steps to address each new demand from the Commission, in order to ensure our compliance with the Commission’s March 2004 decision in a timely manner. At the same time, we will contest today’s Statement to the full extent permitted under EU law, including a full Oral Hearing on these issues.”

Obviously, this isn’t the end of the fight although, if I had to bet, I’d say Microsoft will lose this fight. They will be forced to eventually open up the code, whether they pay this round of fines or not. What will happen next remains to be seen, but it will happen soon.

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Microsoft Vs. EU: Show Me The Money
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