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Microsoft Posts Defense Against EU Antitrust Charges Online

Microsoft Corp. took the unusual step Thursday of making public its formal response to European Union charges that it was failing to comply with a 2004 antitrust ruling.

The response, which companies usually keep confidential, was filed on Feb. 15 as the EU threatened the Redmond, Wash., software company with daily fines of $2.38 million.

Microsoft said it believed it was in full compliance with the technical documentation EU regulators had demanded in 2004 to help rival software firms develop products that worked with Windows servers.

"It also details numerous ways in which the Commission had ignored key information and denied Microsoft due process in defending itself," the company said in a statement posted on its Web site along with its 78-page response and several appendices.

The EU denied similar complaints from Microsoft earlier, saying it had repeatedly reminded Microsoft of the need to provide "complete and accurate specifications."

Microsoft said it also was publishing two reports from software engineering professors who had examined the technical documentation created by Microsoft.

In March 2004, the EU levied a record $613 million fine against Microsoft and ordered the company to share technical data that would allow rivals to make their programs compatible with Microsoft.

Last fall, an independent monitor concluded that the documents provided by Microsoft needed a drastic overhaul to make them workable. In December the EU said Microsoft was proving intransigent about complying and threatened to impose extra daily fines.

The EU said it would decide in the coming weeks if Microsoft has obeyed the antitrust order.

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