The U.S. government sought to influence the European Commission over
Microsoft's antitrust case, according to Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes.
Kroes said the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium, had asked her to be "nicer"
to Microsoft ahead of her decision to fine the
software giant 280 million euros (US$353 million) in July.
The commissioner criticized the approach. "This is of course an intervention
which is not possible," Kroes told Dutch newspaper Financieele Dagblad this
When asked if she was annoyed by the embassy's approach, she said: "In my
work, I cannot have a preference. I have, however, a personal opinion, but that is for Saturday night."
Kroes' representative added in an e-mail to CNET News.com's sister site ZDNet
UK on Tuesday: "We can confirm that she was lobbied and that she did not
Microsoft declined to comment on Kroes' claims, but an insider insisted that the
company had not tried to influence discussions between the U.S. government and the EC.
The U.S. Embassy had not responded to requests for comment at the time of
Microsoft was hit with the fine for failing to comply with the Commission's
landmark antitrust ruling of 2004.
The Commission had ordered the
software giant to open up its code to help rivals develop server software
that is fully compatible with Windows.
Microsoft has previously denied failing to comply with the terms of the
antitrust ruling. Two months ago, it submitted a lengthy document which it said
proved it had opened up its server interoperability protocols, as demanded by the EC.