BRUSSELS, Belgium – Microsoft Corp., under threat of $2.38 million a day in fines, on Wednesday answered European Union complaints that it had failed to comply with an antitrust ruling by outlining a list of its own accusations.
The software maker filed a 75-page response to the EU’s formal charges on the day of the deadline, citing its complaints that the European Commission had ignored key information and denied it due process in defending itself.
“The commission repeatedly refused to clearly define its requirements and concerns, despite repeated requests and accommodations by Microsoft,” the firm said.
The EU strongly denied this, saying it had repeatedly reminded Microsoft of the need to provide “complete and accurate specifications.” It said it sent Microsoft a first report from experts in June 2005, expressing “very serious doubts” about the technical documentation the company had supplied.
In March 2004, the EU levied a record $613 million fine against Microsoft, ordering the company to share technical data that would allow rivals to make their programs compatible with Microsoft. In December the EU said Microsoft was proving intransigent about complying and threatened to impose extra daily fines.
The EU said it will judge in the coming weeks if Microsoft has obeyed the antitrust order. “The Commission may then issue a decision for noncompliance … imposing a fine on Microsoft for every day between 15 December 2005 and the date of that decision,” it said in a statement.
“In the case of continued noncompliance, the Commission may then take other steps to continue the daily fine until Microsoft complies with the March 2004 decision.”
Microsoft insisted it had “complied fully with the technical documentation requirements.”
“Hundreds of Microsoft employees and contractors have worked for more than 30,000 hours to create over 12,000 pages of detailed technical documents that are available for license,” the company said in a statement.
An independent monitor had found that the documents provided by Microsoft last autumn needed a drastic overhaul.
Computer science professor Neil Barrett wrote a critical report about the company’s efforts to comply with the EU’s ruling, saying he and a colleague had been unable to use Microsoft’s instructions to make rival software work with Microsoft servers.
Microsoft said the EU had been slow to tell it about the problems and EU officials in Brussels had not bothered to read documents Microsoft made available at its U.S. headquarters days before the EU filed formal charges on Dec. 21.
The EU said this was untrue. “This documentation was actually supplied on 26 December to the Commission, 11 days after the 15 December deadline and 5 days after the statement of objection was sent,” it said. “This new technical documentation indeed addressed only ‘formatting issues.’”
The software giant claimed the European Commission had ignored important evidence in its haste to attack the company’s compliance. It said it handed regulators two independent reports by five British and German software system engineering professors claiming that Microsoft’s technical documents met complex industry standards “particularly in such a complex domain.”