Microsoft Accepts Most EU Demands

Monday, Microsoft sent a letter to European Union regulators accepting most of the Commission's demands to satisfy antitrust concerns, but asked for further dialog some matters regarding the licensing of its source code. Microsoft has accepted 20 out of the EU's 26 demands and says that it will work as quickly as possible to settle the remaining six.

Microsoft must comply with a 497 million euro judgment made against it nearly one year ago after the European Commission found that it had abused its position in the market to stifle competition. The penalty determined by the EU was for Microsoft to remove Windows Media Player from Windows XP, to allow competitors access to server source code and to provide better interoperability between platforms.

After haggling with the EU over the name of the WMP-free version of Windows XP and being threatened with fines for not cooperating to the EU's expectations, Microsoft announced last week that the product name will be Windows XP "N."

Other concessions have been to expand the evaluation period for licenses -- based upon the US MCPP license -- to allow up to eight days over the course over ten business days and to lower evaluation fees. If parties take a license, those fees are credited to their account.

The remaining stumbling block to full compliance is source code licensing.

Namely, Microsoft has sought to charge for source code access and give developers limited access with customized licenses. Last month, the EU balked at the proposed fees, claiming that they were too expensive, and once again raised the specter of fines. EU regulators also voiced concerns that Microsoft was locking open source projects out of the licensing program.

In response, a Microsoft spokesperson told BetaNews, "The Commission contends that open source vendors are excluded. This is an area that warrants further discussion with the Commission. This is an example of an issue that is nuanced and complex and these issues revolve around finding a way to strike a balance on protecting IP rights and making these technologies more broadly available."

"We are working with the Commission to try to find a way that companies can implement these technologies in code that would get distributed with open source products, but the source code wouldn't be published itself so that the confidentiality of our information is preserved," the spokesperson added.

In response, EU spokesperson Jonathan Todd told BetaNews, "The Commission is still analysing the Microsoft letter and has not reached any conclusions yet. For the moment, the Commission has not agreed to anything that Microsoft has proposed."

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