Microsoft attacks EC over antitrust process

The EC has rubbished claims by the software giant that it has disregarded evidence and denied it due process

Microsoft launched an attack on the European Commission on Wednesday, accusing it of disregarding evidence and denying due process.

In a response filed to the European Commission on Wednesday afternoon, the software giant explained why it believes it has complied with the antitrust ruling in 2004 and criticises the EC for the way it has handled the process. The EC confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that it had received Microsoft's submission, but questioned the accuracy of some of Microsoft's claims

In the filing, Microsoft claims that the EC had not reviewed the most recent documentation submitted by Microsoft, when the Commission warned in December that Microsoft faced penalties for not providing "complete and accurate" specifications for the server interoperability information.

"When the Commission issued its Statement of Objections on 21 December, 2005, the Commission and its experts had not even bothered to read the most recent version of those documents which Microsoft had made available on 15 December, 2005," the Microsoft filing stated.

Microsoft also claimed that is has not been given enough time to respond to the Commission's concerns and has therefore been "denied due process in defending itself".

"The Commission waited many months before informing Microsoft that it believed changes were necessary to the technical documents, and then gave Microsoft only a few weeks to make extensive revisions," the Microsoft filing states.

The EC has also been accused by Microsoft of repeatedly refusing to clearly define its requirements and concerns. The software giant claims that it has provided "clear evidence that Microsoft is in full compliance with technical documentation mandate".

The EC said that it "will consider carefully the response that Microsoft filed today", but rejected Microsoft's claim that it had not reviewed the most recent documentation when it released its most recent objections.

"In its press statement issued today, Microsoft alleges that neither the Commission nor the Monitoring Trustee had read the latest version of the technical documents 'made available' by Microsoft (in Redmond USA) on 15 December. In fact this documentation was actually supplied on 26 December to the Commission, 11 days after the 15 December deadline and 5 days after the Statement of Objection was sent," said the Commission in a statement.

It added that this new technical documentation only addressed formatting issues and was therefore not substantially different from the documents that the Commission examined in its Statement of Objections on 15 December.

The Commission also rejected the claim that Microsoft had not been given enough time to respond to the Commission's concerns.

"Following the rejection by the Court of First Instance of Microsoft's request for interim measures on 22 December, 2004, Microsoft was obliged to comply with the March 2004 Commission decision. Since then the Commission has repeatedly reminded Microsoft of the need to provide complete and accurate specifications. To cite an example, in June 2005 the Commission sent to Microsoft a first report by the Commission's experts, where very serious doubts were expressed as to the completeness and accuracy of the technical documentation," said the EC.

The EC also pointed out that, despite Microsoft's claim that it has provided clear evidence that it is in full compliance, this is a decision for the Commission itself.

"It is of course the European Commission that will decide whether Microsoft is compliant with the March 2004 Decision, and not Microsoft," it said.