Microsoft antitrust fine upheld in Europe

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Microsoft antitrust fine upheld in Europe

To pay multimillion penalty.

A European court has dismissed Microsoft's bid to avoid a €899 million ($AU1.1 billion) penalty levied against the software giant in 2008, in the latest twist of a long-running antitrust suit surrounding the Windows Server operating system.

The General Court of the European Union largely upheld the massive fine against Microsoft for not complying with an initial 2004 ruling, which found the US company did not provide application programming interfaces (API) to third-party developers for Windows Server, effectively cutting out interoperability for competitors out of the equation.

Microsoft receive some small consolation, however, as the court recalculated the penalty to €860 million ($1.06 billion) to take into account the distribution timing of open source products.

The European Commission, which has been pursuing its case against Microsoft since 1998, initially levied a fine of €497 million ($AU615 million) in 2004 as part of the commission's initial decision.

It later slapped the company with a further penalty of €280.5 million ($AU347 million) in 2006 for non-compliance with the order.

In 2008, the commission awarded a third penalty — the record €899 million — noting Microsoft had "abused its dominant position" in the market.

The total €1.64 billion ($AU2.02 billion) in fines delivered to Microsoft make it the biggest antitrust case to date in Europe, surpassing the €1.09 billion ($AU1.35 billion) penalty levied against Intel in 2009, and excluding separate antitrust cases against Microsoft on the continent.

Commission vice-president Joaquin Almunia said in a statement that the court judgment vindicated the action taken against Microsoft to ensure it complies with its obligations.

Microsoft expressed disappointment with the court ruling, and said that it had entered into a broad understanding with the commission that resolved competition law concerns in 2009.

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