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Fine looms, as Microsoft sees EU settlement recede

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Much like the Vista release date, Microsoft's hopes of a speedy European antitrust case settlement are receding. The company is "some more months" away from a settlement with the European Commission, Microsoft's european president Jean-Philippe Courtois said today.

But there's one aspect of the ruling Microsoft that has tried very hard to stall - with some success - and that's a non-compliance penalty. Because it had failed to fulfill its obligations to document its server technology as requested, the Commission has pursued a daily fine, of €2m, which was due to commence on 15 December last year.

Today the EC's competition commissioner Neelie Kroes again reminded the software giant that the daily penalty would be imposed - and backdated to December - if Microsoft didn't supply adequate documentation.

"They should fill in their homework," said Kroes, before the summer break.

"They had a time-out in filling in their homework, but that doesn't mean there's a time out for fines," she said.

Microsoft will hate being patronized like an errant schoolboy, but it will hate paying the fine even more.

For enterprise IT users the importance of the EC antitrust dwarfs that of the earlier US trial, because it deals specifically with server-to-server protocols. ®

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