Microsoft Corp has filed its formal response to European Commission complaints that it is not providing competitors with adequate technical documentation, and repeated its claims that the EC has denied the company due process in defending itself.
The software giant met Wednesday’s extended deadline to respond to a potential $2.4m daily antitrust fine after the Commission decided in late 2005 that its technical documentation did not enable competitors to achieve full interoperability with Windows PCs and servers.
The company complained last week that the Commission was riding roughshod over its rights by refusing Microsoft’s request for a second extension to a deadline and denying it access to more documentation related to how the Competition Commission reached its decision to threaten the daily fine.
And its response repeated claims that the Commission has denied it due process. 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, it stated in its filing.
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, it added.
Microsoft also claimed that it has fully complied with the technical documentation requirements that were imposed by the EC after it was found guilty of breaking European Union competition law in March 2004, noting that hundreds of Microsoft employees and contractors have worked for more than 30,000 hours to create over 12,000 pages of detailed technical documents that are available for license today.
The EC’s monitoring trustee, computer science expert Professor Neil Barrett, heavily criticized that technical documentation in a report delivered to the EC in December.
Any programmer or programming team seeking to use the technical documentation for a real development exercise would be wholly and completely unable to proceed on the basis of the documentation, he wrote. The technical documentation is therefore totally unfit at this stage for its intended purpose.
Microsoft disagrees with that assessment and said that it has also filed with the Commission two independent reports from unnamed expert groups that back up its position. Microsoft now has the right to an oral hearing, following which the Commission will make a definitive assessment on whether to move ahead with the daily fines.
Microsoft’s filing also noted its recently announced plan to license the relevant parts of its Windows source to developers and competitors in order to move beyond what the company’s general counsel, Brad Smith, called arcane arguments about documentation accuracy.
The EC has yet to officially respond to the source code licensing plan, although earlier this week the US Department of Justice said the program satisfied its concerns about Microsoft’s technical documentation.
Microsoft’s appeal against the Competition Commission’s wider antitrust remedies will be heard by the European Union’s Court of First Instance between April 24 and April 28 this year.