On Wednesday, Microsoft Senior Counsel Brad Smith will hold a
press conference in Brussels where, presumably, he will address the
software giant's battle with European regulators.
Smith is point man for Microsoft's (Quote, Chart) battle with the
European Union over penalties for abusing its market dominance.
Relations have been strained between Microsoft and Neelie Kroes,
who took over as Competition Commissioner from Mario Monte early in
2005. In April 2005, Kroes told Microsoft to "urgently comply" with
the sanctions the commission had imposed.
On November 10, the EU gave Microsoft five weeks to comply, or
face a fine of approximately $2.45 million. The deadline was later
moved to February 15.
On December 22 2005, the EU adopted a Statement of Objections to
the way Microsoft had responded to the initial sanctions.
On the same day, Microsoft Senior Counsel Brad Smith issued a
statement objecting to the objections. He pointed out that neither
the commission nor Barrett had read the latest batch of technical
documentation Microsoft had submitted the week before. He said
Microsoft had responded to more than 100 requests from the
"Yet every time we make a change, we find that the Commission
moves the goal post and demands another change," the statement said.
The Commission's position is that none of the changes Microsoft
has made complies with the original directive to make sure that
competitors can create software that interoperates with Windows.
A statement published by the EU said, "The Commission understands
that Microsoft has recently prepared revised documentation
addressing only points relating to formatting (e.g. typos, missing
hyperlinks), but not the general concerns about completeness and
At issue is an order from the Commission that the internal
workings of Windows be documented and licensed. Smith said such a
move could open the door to the production of clones of parts of the
Windows operating system itself.
In the United States, a technical committee composed of three
jointly appointed computer experts monitors Microsoft's progress in
fulfilling settlement demands.
In the UK, security expert Neil Barrett has that role.
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice complained that
Microsoft had fallen behind in compliance with the 2002 settlement
of antitrust proceedings.
The struggle began in in March 2004, when the Competition
Commission ruled that the company had engaged in anti-competitive
behavior. It ordered Microsoft to pay a $613 million fine, produce a
version of Windows that didn't contain Windows Media Player and
release server protocols that would allow third-party software
vendors to create products that interoperate with Windows.