Putting an end to years of litigation over the company’s business practices in Europe, Microsoft has agreed to fully comply with a 2004 court decision where the EU's antitrust watchdog ordered Microsoft to make more of its server code available to third party developers for improved interoperability, and to untie Windows from its own Media Player product.
Microsoft’s concession came after it was hit by a record $686 million fine for its abuse of market power. Though Microsoft paid the fine and released a Windows version without Media Player on the European market in 2005, it failed to supply the interoperability information, which resulted in a second fine of about $398 million in 2006.
Under the terms of the agreement, software developers will be able to access and use the interoperability information. Companies accessing this information will only have to pay a onetime €10,000 fee rather than a percentage of revenues. In addition, the royalties for a worldwide license, including patents, will be reduced from 5.95 percent to 0.4 percent. Following the deal, EU commissioner Neelie Kroes also ended the €3 million daily fines to which the company was subject, but warned the commission will remain vigilant to ensure that Microsoft does not engage in other anti-competitive behavior.