Microsoft Recalcitrance Causes EU to Reconsider How It Metes Out Punishments

During a visit to the United States, European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes told US antitrust regulators that Microsoft's continuing disobedience of the European Union's (EU's) 2004 antitrust order has caused European regulators to consider using much harsher punishments in the future. Kroes spoke at a panel sponsored by the American Bar Association.

"We have never, ever before encountered a company that has refused to comply with commission decisions," Kroes said, referring to Microsoft. "We learned we may have to look for a more effective remedy. We will continue to take up our responsibilities, I can assure you."

The EU charged Microsoft with various antitrust violations in March 2004. Since then, the software giant has hemmed and hawed its way through various delays and still hasn't fully complied with the EU's order. In 2006, the EU fined Microsoft for failing to comply and warned that the company would be fined again soon if it continues not to comply with the EU's antitrust order.

Microsoft says it has tried to meet the EU's demands. "We have done everything humanly possible to comply with a decision that is unfortunately very unclear and undefined, and we will continue to work with the commission in every way that we can," Microsoft said in a statement.

In defense of Microsoft, which has admittedly delayed complying with the EU's order as long as legally possible, the EU has offered little in the way of detailed instruction for much of its antitrust order. Microsoft still needs to provide the EU with a set of server-related documents to help licensees more easily integrate their products and services with Microsoft's workgroup server technologies. The EU has repeatedly described Microsoft's server-related documentation as incomplete and unacceptable and takes exception with the price of the documentation.

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