RealTime IT News

Microsoft And Europe Getting Closer

Microsoft said Monday it is closer to ending its fight with the antitrust division of the European Union after submitting proposals to comply with demands for server interoperability.

The concessions to the European Commission (EC) include an agreement to implement server interoperability measures on a worldwide basis that would have Microsoft share information with rival makers of servers used to run printers and retrieve files, the company said.

Redmond has also agreed to a new royalty structure for licensing its Windows protocols for use in non-Microsoft software products, the software giant said.

"I am happy that Microsoft has recognized certain principles which must underlie its implementation of the commission's decision," European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement.

However, the commission is still examining whether the software giant has made large enough strides to open its protocols to open source developers.

The commission said Microsoft's proposals and its updated licensing program will now be subjected to a market test among industry peers.

"In order to resolve some complex issues over the past few weeks, we've made some tough concessions," Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, said in a statement. "We take our responsibilities in Europe very seriously and will continue to focus on fulfilling all our obligations in every way we can."

The commission, which is part of the 25-nation European Union, fined Microsoft a record $613 million after it found the company controlled a "virtual monopoly" with its Windows operating system, breaking European antitrust law governing competition.

The company could be fined up to $5 million a day if the EC concludes that its proposals would not allow non-Microsoft work group servers to achieve full interoperability with Windows PCs and servers.

"We made important changes to address the commission's concerns," Brad Smith, Microsoft's General Counsel, said in a statement. "These interoperability measures will now apply on a worldwide basis instead of in Europe only."

Microsoft is now offering new ways for developers to distribute software code that implements its technology together with open source code, while ensuring that Microsoft technology is subject to a separate license agreement, the company said.

"We worked to be creative in enabling developers to work with our technology together with open source software, yet still protect our intellectual property. Our proposal addresses this objective," said Smith.

"While we have not reached an agreement with the commission on whether open source developers can go even farther and publish the source code that implements our technology, we are comfortable turning to the courts for guidance on this issue."

A trustee appointed by the commission will review the royalties protocol presented by Microsoft.