The European Union gave Microsoft Corp. until Oct. 17 to rebut the latest antitrust charges, prompting unusually strong criticism Thursday from the software giant. Microsoft had wanted more time to answer revised allegations, issued in August, that it was illegally trying to extend its dominance with Windows operating systems into markets for servers and multimedia players.
“TEN WEEKS (total) to respond in comparison to the 20 months it took them to put this file together is disappointing because there’s a lot of new information in there,” Microsoft spokeswoman Tiffany Steckler said.
If found guilty, the company faces a maximum fine of about $3 billion along with requirements to disclose more of its prized software code to rivals and change how it sells Windows software.
Written replies were due this week, but Microsoft requested an extension. Steckler refused to say how much time the company wanted.
Unlike parties in other high-profile cases, such as the ill-fated General Electric-Honeywell merger, Microsoft has generally refrained from criticism as its case has progressed. When the latest charges were unveiled Aug. 6, Steckler called them only “unfortunate.”
Then, as now, she also insisted the company was “very committed to working with Commission to figure out a way to resolve the thing.”
Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres said decisions on deadlines are made by the case’s hearing officer who, although a Commission employee, is meant to be independent.
The Commission accuses Microsoft of still trying to monopolize new markets even after settling the landmark antitrust case in the United States. EU regulators said in August they were prepared to demand their own concessions as well as impose fines for past behavior.
Microsoft argues that last year’s U.S. settlement, combined with additional steps it has taken voluntarily, answer the European complaints. Microsoft agreed then to disclose some of its software code to rivals and to allow computer makers to hide icons for some Windows applications, a move that would boost exposure of competing software.
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