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Gates vows Microsoft will be 'responsive' to EU

Bill Gates told reporters in Brussels that he had a "great dialogue" with European Union commissioners and that Microsoft is "very responsive" to their antitrust demands.
Microsoft Chairman Gates is welcomed by Belgian Lower House President De Croo in Brussels
Microsoft Chairman Gates is welcomed by Belgian Lower House President De Croo in BrusselsFrancois Lenoir / Reuters
/ Source: Reuters

Microsoft Corp Chairman Bill Gates will ensure the software giant is "very responsive" to the antitrust demands of the European Union, he said on Tuesday.

The EU's executive Commission believes Microsoft is dragging its feet in implementing sanctions designed to level the playing field between it and its competitors.

On Monday Commission officials held further talks with Microsoft about the requirement that it offer a version of Windows without audiovisual software, and provide information about protocols so that rival makers of servers can compete.

But Gates, the world's richest man, told reporters in Brussels Microsoft had a "great dialogue" with the Commission. 

"Anything they want us to do better, I will listen very carefully and make sure we are very responsive," Gates said after meeting members of the Belgian parliament.

The Commission has also reminded Microsoft that it could face fines that may amount to as much as $5 million a day if it failed fully to implement the sanctions.

The Commission's demands stem from a March 2004 ruling that Microsoft abused its near-monopoly in the Windows operating system and must change its business practices.

(Microsoft and NBC are partners in MSNBC.)

Asked if he were sorry not to meet the EU's antitrust chief, Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes, Gates said: "I'm definitely getting the chance to see a number of people from the Commission."

Gates said he had had dinner with Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Friday, and had met several Commissioners at the Davos get-together of the world's business leaders. He plans to meet other Commissioners in Brussels on Tuesday, he said.