Microsoft to Pay $5m Daily Fine to EC as of Tomorrow

31 May 2005

The patience of the European Commission, executive arm of the European Union, runs out tomorrow, Wednesday June 1.

As of that day it will levy a daily fine of $5 million (€3.98m; £2.74m) on US-headquartered Microsoft, accusing the planet's largest computer and software company of failing to comply with the antitrust settlement reached in March 2004.

At that time, the EC found Microsoft culpable of abusing its market dominance within the EU and fined it €497m.

It also ordered MS to unbundle the Media Player program from its main Windows package and make a number of changes to the Windows software source codes - a move that would enable products from other program designers to interface more effectively with the near-ubiquitous operating software.

It is the latter requirement that Microsoft has yet to fulfil, leading to accusations from EC officials and other computer industry players of footdragging. But the EC is no longer in any mood to tolerate Microsoft's famed delaying tactics.

"The deadline is the end of this month and if it's not met then it's the end of the game," says EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes. Under EU rules the EC can fine Microsoft up to 5% of its daily global turnover for each day it fails to comply with the EC's requirements.

Hands aloft in pious indignation, Microsoft insists it has been working hard to reach agreement with the EC. Perhaps the imposition of a $5m daily fine will persuade even the cash-rich software titan to work just that teensy bit harder.

Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff