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Microsoft to disclose some operating system code
2007-10-22 13:24:18 Xinhua English

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- The software giant Microsoft Corp, which faces a 1 billion-dollar fine in Europe, will make some of its Windows operating system code available so developers can better design products for it, it was reported on Monday.

Microsoft will drop its appeal of a long-running and costly European antitrust case and make some of its highly guarded software code available at low prices so developers can better design products that work with the Windows operating system, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The decision came after Europe's second-highest court last month rejected Microsoft's appeal of a 2004 antitrust decision that had led to a record 703 million-dollar fine for abuse of its dominance in computer operating systems, said the paper.

On top of that fine, the European Commission in 2005 started levying a daily noncompliance fine against Microsoft that has brought the total to more than 1 billion dollars.

Running out of legal options, Microsoft agreed to abide by the 2004 decision, ending a case that began in 1998, said Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition Policy, was quoted as saying.

"Now that Microsoft has agreed to comply with the 2004 decision, the company can no longer use the market power it derived from its95 percent share of the PC operating system market and 80 percent profit margin to harm consumers by killing competition on any market it wishes," she said in a written statement quoted by the paper.

Microsoft agreed to drop its appeal and provide information to software developers to allow their products to work with Windows. Microsoft had agreed to provide the information before but at costs that European officials said were "wholly unreasonable," Kroes said.

Microsoft will lower its fee for a worldwide license to use its software code, from 5.95 percent of the requesting company's revenue to just 0.4 percent. Microsoft also dropped its demand for a royalty of 2.98 percent of the money made from software developed using Microsoft's protocols. Now, companies will have to pay only a one-time fee of 10,000 euros, or about 14,161 dollars, according to the paper.

Microsoft also will make its code available to open-source developers, such as those that design applications for the Linux operating system, under terms that allow other users of the software to copy and modify it.

"Microsoft's obligation to document its protocols is an ongoing one -- the documentation needs to be maintained as products evolve and new issues may arise once it is being used by developers," Kroes said. "But as of today, the major issues concerning compliance have been resolved."

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