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EU to Microsoft: En Garde!

The European Commission is reminding Microsoft  that it's still not entirely off the hook.

The Commission issued a statement today warning the Redmond,Wash.-based software vendor that it could incur fines of up to or 3 million Euro per day (U.S. $3.85 million), counting from July 31, 2006, if it fails to fully comply with a March 2004 verdict.

That ruling obliges Microsoft to provide interface documentation allowing full interoperability with current versions of Windows PCs and servers.

The Commission said that "as of today, the Commission has not received the complete documentation regarding all relevant protocols that is required to comply with its March 2004 decision."

"We've been waiting quite some time for them to get it 100 percent and it's still not there," European spokeswoman Linda Cain told internetnews.com.

The Commission gave Microsoft until Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2006, to come up with the final documentation.

The Commission also chided Microsoft for missing "a number of deadlines for delivering complete and accurate specifications, the last on 19th July 2006."

Tom Brookes, a Microsoft spokesman, said that the company has committed a team of 300 people to meeting the Commission's standard for the technical documentation.

"We have responded quickly and completely to all requests and queries on the technical documentation since the July deadline and have made very significant progress," Brookes told internetnews.com.

"We stand ready to do any additional work that is required to comply with the Commission's decision," he added.

This reminder comes one month after Microsoft and the European Commission seemed to have buried the hatchet on Vista.

Until that point, both sides had engaged in a public relations Battle of the Titans.

Microsoft had even hinted that it might not ship Vista to Europe at all, threatening European systems integrators and consultants with losing some $40 billion in incremental revenues.

Cain said the Commission is not trying to re-open old wounds, but wants Microsoft to meet its obligations with regards to the pre-Vista software.

"This is an ongoing saga," she said.

In March 2004, the Commission found that Microsoft abused its "virtual monopoly" with its Windows operating system and broke European antitrust law governing competition.

Then, in July of this year, the Commission imposed a $357 million fine on Microsoft for continuing to fail to comply with that earlier ruling.

Today isn't the first time that a European Commission ruling against Microsoft has fallen around the holiday season.

On December 22, 2004, the president of the Court of First Instance dismissed an application by Microsoft.

One year later to the day, the Commission issued a statement warning Microsoft of daily penalties it might incur.

Cain scoffed at the suggestion that the Commission was trying to ruin Thanksgiving for Microsoft this year.

"There is no connection between Commission statements and Thanksgiving," she said.

"I'll refrain from statements about stuffing and turkeys," she added.