The European Commission gave Microsoft until last night to explain why it was charging what it considered unreasonably high prices for access to its Windows Server protocol information in an attempt to keep the competition at bay.
The EC appears to be growing tired of Microsoft’s alleged non-compliance to its directives, and may be looking at much harsher punitive measures than fines.
"In 50 years of EU antitrust policy we have never before encountered a company that has refused to comply with a Commission decision," Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes told the American Bar Association last week, reported Ars Technica.
According to a transcript seen by Reuters, she added "It could be reasonable to draw the conclusion that behavioural remedies are ineffective and that a structural remedy is warranted."
If the EC decides to impose further fines Microsoft could be charged up to €3 million a day. However some have asserted that the mentioned ‘structural remedy’ would essentially mean a break up of Microsoft’s operation.
The EC’s antitrust case was initially filed in March of 2004, when it ordered Microsoft to make its Windows Server protocols open to competitors on ‘reasonable and non-discriminatory’ terms. Microsoft claimed the technology was protected under a number of patents which justified the charges, but the EC dismissed this and said it found no significant innovation in Microsoft’s technologies that would require such a fee.