Microsoft ready to do more for EU

Microsoft wants to do more to meet European Commission remedies set after a 2004 antitrust decision, the company said at the start of a hearing on whether it should be fined for not adhering to that verdict.

"Microsoft are willing to do more but cannot do this alone. Daily fines are not the solution," the software giant's top lawyer, Brad Smith, told reporters on Thursday.

Microsoft faces daily fines of up to 2 million euros ($2.4 million) for what the Commission says are delays in implementing remedies after the EU executive decided the company had abused the dominance of its Windows operating system to hurt rivals.

The two-day closed hearing will hear Microsoft's argument that it is complying with the decision, the Commission's view and opinions of third parties such as associations representing Microsoft rivals and technology pressure groups.

The information heard will then be assessed by the Commission, which will decide whether to fine Microsoft. This process is likely to take several weeks.

The fines, if imposed, will backdate to December 15, the deadline by which Microsoft was supposed to have complied with the remedies.

Microsoft denies anti-competitive behaviour and has appealed against the original decision. That case will be heard at the end of April before the Court of First Instance, Europe's second-highest court.

On Wednesday, Microsoft came under fresh antitrust pressure from the Commission. The EU executive said European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes had written to Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer to express worries about the company's new operating system, Vista.

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