Microsoft hit with record fine

Microsoft hit with record fine

European Commission gets tough with software giant over failure to comply with legal ruling

Microsoft is being hit with yet another fine - of a further €899m (£681m) - for still failing to European Commission demands to make its software open to competition.

A 2004 order from Brussels required the company to provide information to competitors so that their software could run on its operating systems.

The latest fine takes the firm's total liability to €1.68bn (£127bn) for abusing its dominant market position.

EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "Microsoft was the first company in 50 years of EU competition policy that the European Commission has had to fine for failure to comply with an anti-trust decision."

The fine was imposed after Microsoft lost its appeal against the original European Commission decision in a European court last September.

Since 2004 Microsoft has insisted it was making efforts to comply with the order to disclose technical information to rivals.

But even after previous fines - and agreements from Microsoft to comply with the decision - the company has dragged its feet, according to Kroes.

"Talk is cheap, flouting the rules is expensive," she said. "We don't want talk and promises. We want compliance."

Today’s fine relates to the period of non-compliance between June 2006 and October 2007 - the earlier period was covered by a previous €280m (£212bn) fine.

Last week Microsoft promised to publish more critical information as it became obvious to the company that a fine was approaching.

"As we demonstrated last week with our new interoperability principles and specific actions to increase the openness of our products, we are focusing on steps that will improve things for the future," said the company in a statement.

But in January the EU executive started two new formal antitrust investi gations against Microsoft, both concerning interoperability issues.