The European Commission confirmed on Friday it would debate antitrust sanctions against U.S. software giant Microsoft at a regular meeting on Wednesday.
The Commission on Wednesday should be discussing the Microsoft issue and if we have to apply sanctions for (Microsoft) not having respected decisions from March 2004, the EU executive's spokesman, Jonathan Todd, said at a news briefing on Friday.
On Thursday, Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes was asked if Microsoft would be fined at the meeting and replied: I couldn't imagine another way.
The Commission found in 2004 that Microsoft had used a quasi-monopoly in its Windows operating system for PCs to compete unfairly against other firms, including makers of so-called work group servers.
These servers connect to PCs and handle such tasks as printing and signing on to a network.
The Commission ordered Microsoft to make available interconnection information so that competitors could have the same easy connection to Windows PCs as does Microsoft's own server software.
Microsoft was supposed to deliver that information by the end of June 2004, but was late, and its product failed to meet acceptable Commission standards.
On November 10, 2005, the Commission decided that Microsoft had failed to carry out the sanctions against it and gave the world's largest software maker until December 15 to come into compliance or face a fine.
Microsoft was told to provide documentation for rivals, explain what price it intended to charge and why that price was justified. Otherwise it could face fines of up to 2 million euros ($2.6 million) a day.
When Microsoft failed to meet the deadline, the Commission started wheels turning to fine the company on the documentation question, leaving the price issue for another day.
The Commission will set a fine on Wednesday for the documentation issue, starting from December 15 and going to some time before its meeting, a source familiar with the situation said.
Since the Commission threatened the fine, Microsoft has started working quickly to come into compliance. According to an agreed-upon schedule, Microsoft is supposed to deliver the final results on July 18, a few days after the Commission meeting.
If Microsoft's work on July 18 meets Commission standards, it is unclear whether the Commission will levy an additional fine.
However, at its meeting on Wednesday the Commission may choose to set a new, higher level for future fines should Microsoft fail to meet the July 18 deadline, a source familiar with the situation said.