EU Slaps Record Fine On Microsoft, Orders Changes

By Agence France-Presse European regulators on March 24 imposed a record fine of 497 million euros (US$611 million) on software giant Microsoft Corp. for stifling competitors, and ordered product changes. The European Union's competition commissioner, Mario Monti, announced at the end of a five-year investigation that he was fining the world's biggest software company for abusing its dominant market position. The Italian commissioner also ordered Microsoft to offer a European version of its Windows operating system without the Media Player program within 90 days. And Microsoft was ordered to disclose "complete and accurate" data to enable rival companies to offer low-end servers that can work with Windows within 120 days. The financial penalty is the highest ever levied by the EU executive against a company. The Redmond, Wash.-based company, denying that it abuses its overwhelming dominance to illegally crush competitors, has already vowed to appeal the verdict at the European Court of Justice. Monti said the sanctions laid down a clear marker for the future conduct of Microsoft. "Dominant companies have a special responsibility to ensure that the way they do business doesn't prevent competition on the merits and does nor harm consumers and innovation," he said in a statement. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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