Microsoft Opens Court Docs in EU Fight

Microsoft on Thursday openly released confidential documents it used in its defense against the European Union. The documents were filed on February 15 in response to the Statement of Objections issued by the European Commission. Microsoft says the now-public evidence proves it "is in full compliance."

The December Statement of Objects threatened Microsoft with fines of 2 million euros per day for not complying with a March 2004 judgment against the company. Microsoft had been ordered to sell a version of Windows without its Media Player software, as well as divulge portions of Windows Server protocols.

A version of the operating system without Windows Media Player went on sale as Windows XP 'N' in June of last year, and the company opened up portions of the Windows Server source late last month. However, the EU said it never asked for the complete source code and Microsoft "should not consider this a solution."


The documentation posted Thursday highlights Microsoft's frustration with the process. "It also details numerous ways in which the Commission had ignored key information and denied Microsoft due process in defending itself," the company said. Microsoft made similar claims in public statements offered last week.

"When the Commission issued its Statement of Objections on December 21, 2005, the Commission and its experts had not even bothered to read the most recent version of those documents which Microsoft had made available on December 15, 2005," Microsoft said.

But the EU Commission disputed the Redmond company's version of the facts, stating, "In fact this documentation was actually supplied on 26 December to the Commission, 11 days after the 15 December deadline and 5 days after the Statement of Objection was sent."

The EU's specific objections have not been made public and the Commission says it has no plans to do so.

European Commission spokesperson Jonathan Todd says it is currently analyzing the 78-page reply from Microsoft, adding that "after they have had the opportunity to present their arguments at the oral hearing we will decide whether or not to impose a daily fine."

The date of that hearing has not yet been set, but officials have indicated it will be closed to the public.

If Microsoft is found not in compliance at that point, fines would be applied from December 15, 2005 and the date of the decision. The company could end up paying an additional 100 to 200 million euros in fines on top of the 497 million euros it was ordered to pay as part of the initial antitrust ruling.

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