Microsoft meets EC deadline to avoids fine

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BRUSSELS -- Microsoft met the European Commission's deadline Thursday to provide it with key interface information, filing documentation that could save the software giant fines of up to €3 million ($3.9 million) a day.

The EC -- the European Union's antitrust authority -- had ordered Microsoft to reveal the secret protocols for its Windows operating system so that rival software makers can ensure greater interoperability between servers.

The EC said it will invite businesses to review Microsoft's latest effort "to evaluate whether it contains the necessary information to allow the development of interoperable work group server operating system products."

If the information fails to meet the EC's demands, Microsoft would face the daily fines, which would be back-dated to July 31, and could total €350 million ($448 million). However, the EC warned that it would be weeks -- or even months -- before it is clear whether the information is adequate to avoid the fines.

In a statement, Microsoft called the submission of documents a "milestone," and said it had submitted a total of 100 documents to the EC, numbering 8,500 pages.

The issue revolves around a March 2004 EU antitrust ruling which fined Microsoft a record €497 million ($637 million) and required the company to reveal Windows protocol codes. The March 2004 decision also found Microsoft had abused its position to muscle out rivals in film and music-playing software by "bundling" Windows Media Player in its ubiquitous operating system.

Last month, Microsoft resolved a separate issue with the EC when it agreed to change its new Vista operating system to enable rival firms to develop ancillary software.
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