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EU warns to take steps if Microsoft doesn't comply

EU warns to take steps if Microsoft doesn't comply

The EU's anti-trust chief met Microsoft's CEO in Brussels and warned him that the tech giant must stop abusing Windows' virtual monopoly or face action, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

European Union Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes and Steve Ballmer met at short notice late on Tuesday at Microsoft's request to discuss its failure to comply with a March 24, 2004, decision setting out steps the company must take.

"What Mrs Kroes said is that the Commission expects the decision ... to be complied with urgently and in full, and she added that unless this was the case that the Commission would be obliged to take formal steps to ensure compliance," Commission competition spokesman Jonathan Todd said.

"For the moment we are still not satisfied," he told a news briefing.

Todd declined to give any details of what Ballmer said in the meeting and a Microsoft spokesman would only say Tuesday's talks were "part of the ongoing dialogue" with the EU regulator.

Last year the Commission ruled that Microsoft abused the near-monopoly market position of the Windows operating system to crush competition.

The software giant was ordered to disclose information to rival makers of work group servers to enable their products to work interoperably.

The Commission, which polices competition in the EU, also levied a record fine of 497 million euros ($653.3 million) on Microsoft and ordered it to sell a version of Windows without its Media Player audiovisual software.

DAILY FINES

If Microsoft fails to comply with the EU's decision, the company could ultimately face daily fines of up to $5 million, which is 5 percent of its worldwide daily turnover.

The Commission has authority to rule against Microsoft since the U.S. company does significant business in the EU.

Microsoft has repeatedly said it wants to strike a deal with the Commission.

But the EU executive has each time responded that Microsoft must fully meet the conditions it has laid down.

Todd said Microsoft had still to comply on the issues of interoperability and making a fully-functional version of Windows available without the Media Player.


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