New EC Doubts Emerge Over Microsoft

UPDATED: The European Commission (EC) is looking at another area where Microsoft may not be following orders to unbundle its operating system,
increasing the possibility the regulatory body could impose daily fines on
the software giant.

EU members are mulling whether a version of Microsoft’s Windows software
isn’t as compatible as it should be with competing products from media
software companies, because it lacks certain functionality, confirmed EU
spokesman Jonathan Todd in an interview.

Microsoft removed such features as the ability to let a user attach audio or
video clips in a Word processing document and run it. Microsoft’s main
competition in the media software space is RealNetworks, which stands to
gain the most from the unbundling and interoperability sanctions placed on
the Redmond, Wash., software giant.

“The commission has to verify the requirement that Microsoft refrain from
using any commercial, technological or contractual terms that would render
the unbundled version of Windows less attractive or less functional,” Todd

Todd also confirmed that the EU has shot down Microsoft’s request that it
have the right to veto what a bipartisan monitoring trustee might choose to
examine with regard to Microsoft’s compliance in the antitrust case. The
EU has written to Microsoft, saying that it deems the request unacceptable, Todd said.

“The commission considers Microsoft’s request an unacceptable compromise of
the trustee’s ability to provide effective monitoring of Microsoft’s
compliance with the sanctions,” Todd said.

Microsoft has 10 working days to respond to the commission.

The latest wrinkles in the case come less than a week after the EC came
hard on Microsoft, saying it has doubts that the software
company is complying with an order to enable other software providers to
work with computers that run the Windows operating system.

The commission warned that the software giant must comply with an EC
competition ruling within weeks or face a new round of multi-million-dollar

The compliance order is part of the EC’s ruling last year that fined
Microsoft a record $613 million after it found the company abused its
“virtual monopoly” with its Windows operating system and broke European
antitrust law governing competition.

The ruling is still under appeal, but Microsoft has been ordered to comply
the meantime or face additional fines. The commission is weighing whether
to begin a process that could result in fines for Microsoft of as much as $5
million a day for not cooperating with its orders.

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