November 15, 2006 8:21 AM PST

EU: Microsoft compliance deadline a week away

Microsoft has until November 23 to provide European antitrust regulators with the technical documentation third parties require to make their products interoperate with Microsoft software.

The European Commission announced its deadline Wednesday, noting it has yet to receive "complete documentation" for technical information requested by EC in its March 2004 antitrust order against Microsoft. Among its stipulations, the order required the software giant to share protocol information with third parties, even rivals, so that their products could be designed to work with Microsoft's software.

According to regulators, the goal of the November 23 deadline is to have Microsoft's entire set of technical documentation available to potential licensees by the end of the month for their review.

"The Commission will decide in due course whether or not the technical documentation is in full compliance with the requirements of the March 2004 decision, taking into account comments from the potential licensees and advice from the (monitoring) trustee on whether the technical documentation is operational," the Commission said in a statement.

In July, the Commission levied a fine of $357.3 million (280.5 million euros) against Microsoft for continued noncompliance with its March 2004 order. European antitrust regulators also noted that if Microsoft continued to remain out of compliance, it would face a daily fine of 3 million euros--up from the 2 million euros in daily penalties originally imposed for ongoing noncompliance.

"We have responded quickly and completely to all requests and queries on the technical documentation since the July deadline and have made very significant progress," a Microsoft spokesman said in a statement. "We stand ready to do any additional work that is required to comply with the Commission's decision."

The software giant has a group of 300 people assigned to fulfill the Commission's requirements for technical documentation.

"Microsoft is committed to full compliance with the Commission's March 2004 decision and we are working closely with the Commission and the monitoring trustee towards that goal," the spokesman said.

European regulators acknowledged some progress has been made in taking Microsoft's information and turning it into specifications that potential licensees would be able to test.

Last month, Microsoft also announced changes it made to Vista that are designed to address concerns raised by the Commission over the search, file-formatting and security features in the next-generation operating system.

Microsoft declared last week that Vista was ready to ship to PC makers. Vista is expected to hit store shelves on January 30.

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