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Microsoft fines OK'd - reports

The men from the EU say 'yes'

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Updated The vote is (unofficially, and off the record) in. Regulators from the European Union's 25 member countries have, according to reports, unanimously found Microsoft guilty of non-compliance with the commission's landmark 2004 anti-trust ruling.

The way is now clear for Microsoft to start paying a $2.51m a day fine backdated to December 15 for failing to meet the terms of the commission's ruling.

In an eerie parallel, meanwhile, Microsoft has bowed to Korean antitrust officials by agreeing to pay a somewhat smaller $35m fine for abusing its market position locally. The ruling, in February, instructed Microsft to ship a version of Windows minus Media Player and Windows Messenger and a version that carries links to Web pages that allow customers to download competitors' software.

Microsoft was instructed by European regulators to share its Windows communications protocols with competitors, and to also deliver a version of Windows for use in the EU without a bundled version of Media Player.

The news comes as Microsoft last week took steps to prepare employees for the fact the commission is, after much reporting by the press, about to level a fine.

Associate counsel with Microsoft's corporate and legal affairs department Horacio Gutierrez warned Microsoft's US and EMEA employees to prepare for the fact Microsoft will be fined billions for non-compliance. In an email published by MicrosoftWatch, Gutierrez said: "We have done everything that the commission has asked of us and more, and in our view any fines would be without justification and would impede the process [of reconciliation with the EC].

"I can assure you that we are continuing to work day and night with our 300 dedicated engineers to create documentation which is complete and accurate to satisfy the European Commission."

Microsoft has, of course, insisted it is already in complete compliance having provided adequate documentation about is Windows communications protocols - a key aspect of the 2004 ruling - for competitors.

An EC spokesman was unwilling to comment. ®

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