Microsoft Responds to EU Complaints

In a sharply worded 75-page rebuttal that was issued on the last day possible, Microsoft denied that it was not complying with the demands of its European Union (EU) antitrust case. The European Commission (EC) had previously given Microsoft until Wednesday to respond to complaints that it was moving too slowly in complying with a 2004 antitrust action against the company.


"The Commission has ignored critical evidence in its haste to attack the company's compliance," Microsoft said in a prepared statement. "Microsoft has complied fully with the technical documentation requirements." The EC had charged that Microsoft's technical documentation submission was inadequate after the ECs technical experts had reviewed it.


"Hundreds of Microsoft employees and contractors have worked for more than 30,000 hours to create over 12,000 pages of detailed technical documents that are available for license today," reads Microsoft's rebuttal. "In addition Microsoft has offered to provide licensees with 500 hours of technical support and has made its source code related to all the relevant technologies available under a reference license."


More specifically, Microsoft also addressed EC concerns about the quality of the documentation, noting that it had hired two technical experts of its own. Microsoft’s experts filed a 49-page report in which they said that Microsoft's documentation "meets current industry standards ... \[and is\] complete and accurate information, to the extent that this can be reasonably achieved, covering protocols, dependencies and implicit knowledge."


Microsoft also complained that the EC waited a long time to file its complaint about the technical documentation, alluding to its failed bid to delay the release of this week's rebuttal. "The \[European\] Commission waited many months before informing Microsoft that it believed changes were necessary to the technical documents, and then gave Microsoft only a few weeks to make extensive revisions," Microsoft’s rebuttal reads, adding that the EC and its technical experts never bothered to read the most recent version of Microsoft's technical documentation when they complained about its quality.


As you might remember, Microsoft faces fines of as much as $2 million a day if the EC finds the company guilty of not complying with its antitrust ruling. The EC says it will take a few weeks to review Microsoft's objections. "The Commission may then issue a decision for non-compliance ... imposing a fine on Microsoft for every day between 15 December 2005 and the date of that decision," an EC statement reads. "In the case of continued non-compliance, the Commission may then take other steps to continue the daily fine until Microsoft complies with the March 2004 decision."

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