RealTime IT News

Microsoft Feeling Deadline Heat

The European Union has given Microsoft until the end of the month to deliver satisfactory proposals to settle its case or else face hefty sanctions.

The European Union Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes informed Microsoft that her office expects Redmond to confirm arrangements for its full compliance with remedies imposed by the European Commission no later then the end of May 2005, EU Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said.

"After that date, the commission will assess whether the measures proposed by Microsoft are sufficient to ensure full compliance," said Todd.

The commission levied a record fine of $613 million last March and imposed other penalties against Microsoft. After ruling that Microsoft abused its monopoly position, it required the company to unbundle its Windows Media Player software from Windows in European markets.

The EU says it has the right to fine Microsoft each day it fails to comply with the decision.

"If the measures are not fully compliant, the commissioner intends to set in motion the procedures to impose daily fines of up to 5 percent of Microsoft's daily turnover worldwide until such time as Microsoft complies with the remedies to the satisfaction of the commission," Todd said.

Todd has said negotiations between antitrust regulators from the 25-nation bloc and Microsoft would continue.

Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake McCredy would only say the company "continues to work hard with the commission towards an agreement on full compliance with the decision."

In February European customers and competitors of Microsoft had 10 days to tell the European Commission how they feel about the company's latest efforts to comply with sanctions resulting from last year's EU antitrust ruling.

The commission heard from European PC makers, retailers and IT companies to determine if the software giant has moved far enough toward compliance with last year's rulings. However, it was determined there was still some distance between the two positions.

And last month, EU's regulators said they were not convinced that the Windows version the company had produced without Media Player was up to standards set by the commission. Questions remained over whether enough had been done to let competitors be interoperable with Microsoft's system.

For its part, Microsoft said in April it would lower licensing fees and making it easier for potential licensees to review software to determine if they want to purchase it.

The software maker must also address the commission's concern about the "all-in-one license," in which customers pay for applications or features they don't need, according to Todd.