US rivals gang up on Microsoft
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IBM, Novell and Oracle, the software and technology groups, will tell European Union regulators on Friday that Microsoft has not done enough to comply with a 2004 antitrust ruling.
Software experts from the three companies will testify at a European Commission hearing in Brussels to examine whether Microsoft should be punished for failing to abide by the Commission’s landmark ruling.
They will take the stand a day after Microsoft had a last chance to demonstrate it has complied with a key part of that decision – the order to license technical information about the Windows operating system to rivals.
Brussels says the information is needed by other companies to develop server software compatible with the Windows system.
Both the Commission and Microsoft’s rivals say it has so far failed to draw up “complete and accurate” documentation to that effect, and the regulator is now threatening to impose fines of up €2m ($2.4m) a day. IBM, Novell and Oracle are expected to say that they have twice reviewed Microsoft’s documentation and found it inadequate. Their views are set to clash with assurances by Microsoft yesterday that its technical documentation exceeds industry standards.
The group sought to back up that claim by submitting statements from six technology companies including EMC, the data storage company. They have licensed Microsoft interoperability information similar to that mandated by the Commission ruling and said the documentation was “useful and helpful”.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, said: “We are in compliance with the Commission decision and we are committed to doing everything in our power to find a solution to this impasse.”
But a Commission spokesman dismissed Microsoft’s claims, saying: “Many companies have told us that the information provided by Microsoft is not useful.”
Microsoft yesterday played down its recent sharp criticism of the Commission’s procedures, though it emerged that the State Department had intervened to raise similar concerns.
A Brussels-based US official said the State Department letter to the Commission and EU member says: “Microsoft’s allegations that [the Commission’s] procedures have lacked transparency and fairness, if accurate, are of substantial concern to the US”.