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Microsoft offers more concessions on EU server ruling; six issues pending
BRUSSELS (AFP) Apr 04, 2005
US software giant Microsoft Corp has offered further concessions to concerns raised by the European Commission concerning the implementation of the EU's antitrust ruling regarding the servers market, a company spokesman said Monday, adding there were six issues still unresolved.

A company spokesman told AFX News, AFP's financial news subsidiary: "There were 26 issues where the European Commission had concerns. Microsoft has made or accepted proposals on 20 of them. On the remaining six there is a need for further discussions for us to get absolute clarity."

In March last year, the company was found to have abused its dominant position in the market for servers by keeping information about its ubiquitous Windows operating system secret, thereby pushing rival server makers out of the market. The company's initial proposals to resolve this were rejected by the commission.

The commission announced that it had four areas of concern regarding the implementation by Microsoft of the server ruling. It had told Microsoft it had to give information about how its servers interoperate to rival server makers. Microsoft's offering to these rivals was inadequate, according to the commission.

It said that rivals did not have enough time to evaluate the technical documentation regarding the interoperability information and that they had to pay high fees to do so. Rivals would also have to take out a licence for everything, forcing them to pay for information they might not need.

The commission also disagreed with the royalties structure, and the fact that open-source manufacturers could not get access.

The spokesman said: "We have raised the length of the evaluation period to eight days from two, giving companies more time to look at the protocols. Also, the evaluation fees will be lower and more flexible. It has been brought down from 5,000 euros to 500 euros per day per reviewer."

Regarding the all-in-one licence, the spokesman said that with immediate effect the company is open to crafting licences tailored to the needs of the companies concerned. It will also restructure its royalties system.

On the open-source issue, the spokesman said that the company was trying to find a way to give the open-source makers access to the protocols without giving them access to the underlying source code.

There were still outstanding issues concerning the open source.

"Issues remain on the open source," said the spokesman. He refused to be drawn on the details.

Asked what impact these further concessions will have on the company, the spokesman said: "There is a full expectation at Microsoft that there would be changes."

Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd, said: "For the moment nothing is resolved. We are still discussing. We are still studying the letter about interoperability. We will take the time necessary."

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