The European Union’s antitrust chief says Microsoft cannot charge licensing fees for software blueprints that it is offering to share with competitors unless it can prove the computer code is innovative.
The official, Neelie Kroes, also told European lawmakers on Tuesday that she has not yet received all information on Microsoft’s offer to share software code and comply with a 2004 EU antitrust ruling.
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Microsoft Corp. has until Feb. 15 to meet European Commission demands from December that it provide complete and accurate information on code that would allow competitors’ products to communicate smoothly with servers running Microsoft operating systesms.
EU antitrust regulators have threatened Microsoft with daily fines of 2 million euros ($2.36 million), retroactive to mid-December, if it fails to comply by the deadline.
In December, Microsoft provided EU officials with thousands of documents but an independent monitor said they were “fundamentally flawed” and required a drastic overhaul to make them workable.
Last week, Microsoft offered to let competitors examine some server source code, calling it the “ultimate documentation” which might address regulators’ concerns. Kroes said the first she heard of that offer was via a Microsoft press release.
The EU has never asked Microsoft to supply source code and backers of open source alternatives to the Redmond, Wash., company’s proprietary operating systems called last week’s offer a “poisoned apple” as the terms of access to the code were unclear.
EU officials and an independent monitor held talks Monday at Microsoft Corp.’s U.S. headquarters to discuss improvements to the technical documentation that the software company has so far supplied.