Microsoft to Face EU, License Windows Source Code

Microsoft will challenge the European Union (EU)'s antitrust ruling in April, the European Court of First Instance announced yesterday. The software giant will attempt to convince the court that it broke no European laws in a court date provisionally set for April 24 and lasting four days. Additionally, Microsoft said that it will license the Windows source code to third parties in order to meet certain EU demands.

Microsoft was charged with violating EU antitrust laws in 2004 and ordered to pay a $610 million dollar fine, release a version of Windows that lacked Windows Media Player, and issue a set of technical documentation that would help competitors create solutions that interact with Microsoft server platforms. In recent months, however, the EU has become irritated with Microsoft's lack of progress on the last requirement. The EU is now threatening to fine Microsoft over $2 million a day if it does not comply.

On Wednesday, regulators at the EU's European Commission (EC) noted that recent complaints about Microsoft's lack of progress in its US antitrust case were not coincidental. As with its US counterparts in the Department of Justice (DOJ), EC regulators have become increasingly frustrated with Microsoft's inability to meet the requirements of an antitrust ruling.

In order to meet the EU's requirements, Microsoft on Wednesday said that it would simply license the Windows source code. The company had previously charged that the EU requirements would allow competitors to clone Windows. "We are announcing today that we will ... license the Windows source code itself," Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith said yesterday. Presumably, third parties will be able to use the source code to create applications and services that work better with Windows.

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