Agreement opens competition in market

European regulators announced Monday that Microsoft has complied with their demands for open competition in the software market.

This follows a ruling against the software giant in the European Court of the First Instance last month (Daily Variety, Sept. 17).

The European Commission complained in 2004 that Microsoft was limiting competition by refusing to supply interoperability information that would allow other operating systems to be developed for work group servers. The company offered to license the information to developers, but on terms the EC considered unreasonable.

“Microsoft has now made substantial changes to its provision of this information, introducing the changes that I asked for,” said competition commissioner Neelie Kroes Monday in Brussels.

Royalty demands have been drastically reduced or replaced by nominal one-off payments. There will also be legal guarantees that the information is complete.

While the question of fines demanded by the EC for Microsoft’s past behaviour still remains to be resolved, its long-running dispute with the company is essentially over. Kroes warned, however, that the court decision sets a precedent for Microsoft’s future market behaviour, and its continued compliance will be closely monitored.

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