EU Extends Microsoft's Latest Deadline

Microsoft Corp. now has until April 23 to respond to charges that it fails to offer rivals a fair deal on information that helps servers work with Windows, an EU spokesman said Monday.

The European Commission originally gave Microsoft until April 3 to respond and threatened to start levying daily fines of 3 million euros ($4 million) a day after that.

Microsoft said it needed more time to address the complex issues involved.

The EU had ordered the company to share communications code with rivals as part of a 2004 antitrust order that found Microsoft broke anti-monopoly rules by denying competitors information needed to link the servers -- which organize all the computers in an office -- to desktop PCs running Windows.

EU regulators said March 1 there was "no significant innovation" in the requested information Microsoft had to provide rivals -- and therefore Microsoft did not have the right to charge high fees for licenses.

Microsoft countered by saying that the treatment it receives from the EU is unmatched around the world and hurt Europe's efforts to become a thriving high-tech economy. It then rapidly signed up the first company to its license program, three years after the EU ordered it to share code.

The company is also facing an earlier set of charges from the EU, which fined it 280.5 million euros ($371 million) last July for failing to supply the "complete and accurate" information needed to help rivals use Microsoft's communications code.

This comes on top of the record 497 million euro ($613 million) levied in 2004. The EU claimed Microsoft had used its power as the supplier of the ubiquitous Windows software to squeeze rivals in neighboring software sectors such as media and servers.

Microsoft appealed and a court decision is expected by September.


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