In an attempt to mollify regulators in Europe and the United States, Microsoft said that it will disclose internal details about Windows, its lucrative operating system, to third-party companies.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, called the decision to license parts of the source code for Windows “a bold stroke” that should put to rest charges that the company is holding back clear and timely information from competitors. Smith also signaled a shift in the Microsoft business model, calling the decision “quite a substantial step, quite a significant change, from the steps we have made in the past.”
Speaking at a news conference in Brussels and reported by the International Herald Tribune, Smith said the move should enable the company to avoid daily fines of up to two million euros or nearly $2.5 million that the European Union has threatened to impose.
The European Union already fined Microsoft 497 million euros in March 2004 for being an abusive monopoly. The commission charged the company of hindering rivals in the market for software that plays multimedia clips and for impeding rivals seeking to use software that runs print and security functions and allows computers to communicate on a network.
The overture from Microsoft is an attempt by the company to comply with European Union requirements aimed at opening up the market for networking software, although the union has never asked Microsoft to reveal its source code.
At the same time that it fights the European Union, Microsoft also faces renewed scrutiny from the United States Justice Department, which recently complained to a judge that the software giant had provided inaccurate information and failed to meet deadlines.
Microsoft, in the meantime, has been granted an extension by the European Commission to February 15 to deal with issues involving the fine.