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.

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