EU hands down record $1.35 billion fine against Microsoft

It looks like Microsoft's troubles in the EU are far from over, with a $1.35 billion ($899 million euros) penalty being rendered on Wednesday. The fine follows two new cases launched in the past month against the Redmond company.

The fine is in addition to a 497 million euro ($613 million) fine first leveled against Microsoft in March 2004 for bundling Media Player into the Windows operating system, and failing to supply interoperability information to competitors.

Antitrust commissioner Neelie Kroes said on Wednesday that the additional fine was for non-compliance, which the clock had been running on until October 2007. Microsoft had already been fined 280.5 million euros in 2006 for non-compliance.

Last October, Microsoft finally gave up fighting, and the two sides worked out a deal where the technical information would be licensed for a 10,000 euro fee, and any potential fines limited to 1.5 billion euros.

In a statement on the EU's latest moves, Microsoft said it was reviewing the fine and added that it included claims for past issues that had already been resolved. It also seemed as if the company left the door open for an appeal of the decision.

Microsoft still claims that it is doing all it can to comply with the Commission's orders, but Kroes seemed to brush that aside in a news conference Wednesday. "Talk is cheap," she was reported as saying. "We don't want talk and promises. We want compliance."

Soon, Microsoft may be facing all new troubles as the EU plans to investigate two recent complaints. One will look into whether Microsoft Internet Explorer is illegally bundled into Windows, while another will see whether the company's interoperability in other programs is sufficient.

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