EU slaps Microsoft with record fine

By   |  February 27, 2008

European Union regulators today slapped Microsoft with a record 899 million euro (R10bn/US$1.3bn) fine for failing to comply with a 2004 antitrust ruling. The fine, the largest ever imposed on a company by the EU, is for not fully obeying a ruling that the software giant should stop overcharging for using its patents to connect to Windows.

“I hope that today’s decision closes a dark chapter in Microsoft’s record of non-compliance,” EU commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement today.

The ruling by the EU comes just days after Microsoft announced it was ready to collaborate with competitors. The company said at the time that under its interoperabilty initiative, it would open up application programming interfaces to all software users to “increase the openness of Microsoft software”. EU regulators countered that they were unimpressed by the company’s move, saying they had seen it all before.

Bloomberg reports that “while today’s ruling ends the 2004 antitrust case, for which the company was fined the previous record 497 million euros, the EU has two new investigations under way over Microsoft’s business practices.” The fine brings the total penalty to 1.68 billion euros in the case.

In a statement Microsoft said: “These fines are about the past issues that have been resolved. As we demonstrated last week with our new interoperability principles and specific actions to increase the openness of our products, we are focusing on steps that will improve things for the future.”

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