Big fine looms for Microsoft over documentation shortfall

The European Commission is expected to hit Microsoft with massive fines on Wednesday in a bid to force compliance with a 2004 antitrust ruling.

The European Commission is expected to hit Microsoft with massive fines on Wednesday in a bid to force compliance with a 2004 antitrust ruling.

Two years ago, the Commission ordered Microsoft to provide a version of Windows without Media Player and to release documentation for its workgroup server protocols. The company could face a daily fine of £1.4m for failing to comply in full.

Although a version of Windows was released without Media Player, the commission is still unsatisfied with the software giant’s documentation of its workgroup protocols – the issue that now looks set to spark the imposition of heavy fines.

European Union competition commissioner Neelie Kroes told journalists last week, “I can't imagine any other way.” If people were not conforming with European regulations “then it needs to be corrected”, she said.

A committee of EU regulators from European member countries voted unanimously to back fines against Microsoft for failing to comply with the ruling last week. They are expected to vote on the size of the fine today.

The scale of the fine – set top be backdated to 15 December - will be revealed on Wednesday. It will come on top of fines of Euros 497m (£344m) imposed on Microsoft in 2004.

The software giant protests that it has been working “round the clock” to meet the commission’s deadlines.

“Microsoft has done everything that the Commission has ever asked of it,” a spokesperson said.

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