European regulators have imposed a fine of €280 million ($350 million) on Microsoft Corporation for breaching its 2004 antitrust order to share programme code with rivals. The EC also threatened to impose additional penalties in case of non-compliance, bringing a new turn in the protracted legal battle between the European Commission and the software giant.
The new fine would take effect if the company continues to deny 'complete and accurate' technical information to software developers using its Windows operating system.
Neelie Kroes, EU competition commissioner, said the group had come 'not even close' to complying with the EU's demand for complete and accurate information enabling inter-operability between its Windows operating system and rivals' work-group servers.
Microsoft said the company does not believe in any fine although it respects the Commission and the regulatory process. However, it said the Commission's decision lacked clarity and it would approach European courts to defend its stance.
The fine comes on top of the record €497 million ($629 million) levied in March 2004 for Microsoft's abuse of its dominant position in the market. The EC had imposed daily fines of €1.5 million ($1.91 million) from December 15 to June 20 when it decided that Microsoft was still violating EU's competition laws. The competition commissioner Mario Monti had also ordered Microsoft to sell a version of Windows without a video and music player. Microsoft is appealing Monti's ruling to the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg.
Microsoft's Windows software runs on about 95 per cent of the world's personal computers.