For the second time in as many weeks, Microsoft has given the European Commission, the European Union's (EU's) regulatory arm, a proposed list of concessions for its antitrust case. The Microsoft list represents 20 of the 26 concessions that the Commission was seeking and, according to the software giant, only six small matters remain unresolved.
"Since receiving feedback from the Commission \[last month\], we've worked basically around the clock," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "We feel we've made significant progress." The spokesperson also suggested that Microsoft is open to further concessions after the company and the Commission further clarify the remaining concerns.
The Commission says that it's now studying Microsoft's revised proposal letter to determine whether the company is meeting its requirements. A Commission spokesperson noted, however, that the clock is ticking: If Microsoft is unable to meet the Commission's requirements in a timely manner, the company can be fined millions of dollars a day for noncompliance.
As for the remaining concerns, Microsoft says that most of them involve the Commission's requirement that Microsoft license server protocols to competitors, many of which are open-source companies. "\[The Commission is\] striving to find a way to distribute the protocols with open-source products, but in a way that the source code for the protocols themselves would not be published," a Microsoft spokesperson noted. "It's a complex issue because it revolves around striking a balance between protecting intellectual property and making the \[protocols\] as broadly available as possible."
Also in question is whether the protocol licensing will affect products sold in non-European markets. For obvious reasons, Microsoft would like to restrict the licensing to companies that will sell their products only in markets that are affected by the EU ruling. The Commission would like to see Microsoft lower the cost of licensing the protocols and offer more flexible licensing terms.
Microsoft and the Commission previously agreed on names for the Windows versions that Microsoft will sell in Europe--Windows XP Home Edition N and Windows XP Professional Edition N--while, separately, Microsoft made other concessions, including agreeing to reinstitute the registry entries that media player competitors require. The EU issued its antitrust ruling against Microsoft in March 2004.