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Microsoft on Thursday claimed to have met a new Brussels deadline to hand over documents to its rivals, in a move designed to head off the threat of further anti-trust fines of up to €3m ($3.8m) a day.
The company said it had completed technical work on more than 100 documents, totalling 8,500 pages, in line with the Thanksgiving Day deadline set by Neelie Kroes, EU competition commissioner, earlier this month. Microsoft said the work had been carried out under the supervision of a trustee, Professor Neil Barrett, a computer expert suggested by Microsoft and appointed by Ms Kroes to advise the Commission on the company’s compliance with the ruling.
Ms Kroes’s department said the documents would be carefully studied to ensure they provided the required information to rivals.
“We will decide in due course whether or not Microsoft is in compliance with the obligation to provide complete and accurate technical documentation,” it said, adding that this would be likely to take months rather than weeks
Microsoft was fined €497m by the European Commission in March 2004 for abusing its monopoly position and a further €280m in July for failing to hand over complete documents to rivals.
The case relates to Microsoft’s Windows operating system, which the Commission ruled did not offer enough interoperability for other software.
Ms Kroes has become increasingly agitated by the company’s failure to fully comply with the 2004 ruling and will want to ensure the interface documention meets her requirements.
She has said she could fine Microsoft up to €3m a day if the relevant documents are not handed over, backdated to the last deadline of July 31.
Potential rivals to Microsoft can now review the documentation made available by the company to see whether it contains the necessary information to develop interoperable work group server operating system products.
Microsoft said on Thursday there had been an unprecedented effort by more than 300 engineers and technical writers to review the technical documents to meet the Brussels deadline.
“We look forward to receiving feedback from the industry,” the company said in a statement.
Ms Kroes said earlier this month that getting Microsoft to comply with the 2004 ruling was like doing a jigsaw puzzle with some of the pieces missing.
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